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Full text of "Life of William Capers, D. D., One of the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South"

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^ 





THB NEW YORK PUBUG UBRARY 

RBPBRBNCB DEPARTMENT 



This book is under no cirenmsUuioes to be 
taken from the Building 



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form 41* 








LIFE 



or 



WILLIAM CAPERS, D.D., 



OHB or THE BISHOPS Or 



THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH j 



INCLUDING AN 



jDt0H0grap|g. 



BY 

WILLIAM M.^GHTMAN, D.D. 

PREEODENT OF WOFFOBD COLLKOI. 



Nashvillb, Tenn. : 

PuBLXSHiNQ House op the M. E. Church, South. 

Barbee & Smith, Aqents. 

1902. 



^^ 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

34350 1 

tILKN FOUNOATIONt. 
1005 



r 



Contents. 



I, 



I 



m 



PasFAOi ^ • ^ 4 ...••• is 

AUTOBIOO&APHT •••« 11 

CHAPTER I. 

Value of autobiography — ^Mr. Gapers appointed Superintendent of a 
Mission to the Creek Indians — Stationed at MilledgeTiUe, Ga.. 281 

CHAPTEB II. 

Stationed in Charleston — Editor of the Wesleyan Journal — Appointed 
Presiding Elder — Defence of Bishop Soule's Sermon — ^Elected Dele- 
gate to the British Conference ..m.... 248 

CHAPTER III. 

Embarks in the John Jay — ^Voyage — Reception in England — Estimate 
of the leading Wesleyan preachers — Resolutions of the British 
Conference — Visits Dr. Adam Clarke at Hay don Hall — Return 
▼oyage 264 

CHAPTER IV. 

Invitation to go to Baltimore— Missions to the blacks established- 
Results of these Missions 288 

CHAPTER V. 

Elected to a Professorship in Franklin College, 0a. — His own humble 
appreciation of his scholastic abilities — Seyere illness — Castile Sel- 
by — Stationed in Columbia — Correspondence with Dr. Cooper.- 803 

^ CHAPTER VI. 

yL Miss Jane A. Faust — Miss Maxwell — An awakening sermon — Rhymes 

— Dr. Capers removes to Charleston — General Conference of 18W 

f^ --Is offered tiie Presidency of LaGrange College 817 

^ (iiij 



vr CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Hospitality — Rev. John Hutchinson — The little mail-carrier and 
the overcoat — Outlay of benevolence speedily returned, and 
doubled *. 832 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Troubles in the Church in Charleston — Transferred to the Georgia 
Conference, and stationed at Savannah — Lewis Myers — Delivers a 
eulogy on Lafayette 839 

CHAPTER IX. 

Removal to Columbia — Accepts the Professorship of Moral and Intel- 
lectual Philosophy in the South Carolina College — Reasons for an 
early resignation — Denominational education 852 

CHAPTER X. 

Lays the corner-stone of the Cokesbury School — George HoUoway — 
Visits Georgia — Stationed in Charleston — Congregational singing — 
Appointed Editor of the Southern Christian Advocate — Great fire 
in Charleston — Collections for rebuilding the churches — Centenary 
of Methodism 862 

CHAPTER XI. 

General Conference of 1840 — Conversion of his son William — Ap- 
pointed Missionary Secretary for the South — Preaches the funeral 
sermon of Mrs. Andrew 871 

CHAPTER XII. 

Removes from Oxford to Charleston — Makes the tour of the South- 
western Conferences — ^Visits his aunt in Kentucky — Incidents of 
travel — Maum Rachel 888 

CHAPTER XIII. 

General Conference at New Tork — Debate on Finley's resolntioii^ 
Incipient measures for a division of the Church 898 



CONTENTS. 

OHAPTBB XIY. 

Bleoted and ordained Bishop— First tour of Episcopal Tisitfttto] 
TraTels through the border territory of the Virginia Confer- 
enoe •• • •••• • 418 

CHAPTER XV. 

Second tour of visitations — The far West — Trayels through the 
Indian Territory, Arkansas, and Texas 426 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Dr. Bascom visits South Carolina — His mind and manners — ^Meeting 
of the Bishops and Commissioners of the Church suit called by 
Bishop Soule — ^Bishop Capers's third and fourth tours of visita- 
tions 489 

CHAPTER XVII. 

General Conference at St Louis — Fifth tour of visitations — ^Writes 
his Autobiography — Illness at Augusta — Sixth tour — Correspond- 
ence 451 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

The Methodist itinerant system — Its suitableness to the expanding 
population of the country — Statistics — Seventh tour of visita- 
tions 469 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Eighth tour of visitations — Failing health — General Conference at 
Columbus, Ga. — Last tour — Illness and death 482 

CHAPTER XX. 

Personnel of Bishop Capers — ^Intellectual character — Conversational 
powers — Religious experience^Style of preaching— Theology of 
the John Wesley school — Administrative capacity — Family feelings 
— ^Belief in a special Providence — Disinterestedness — Results of 
his ministry 492 



preface* 



Thb writer of the following memoir deems it 
proper to state that shortly after the death of bis 
honored and lamented friend, the Rev. Bishop 
Capers, an application was made to him by the 
family of the deceased to undertake the prepara- 
tion of a biography. This application, although it 
furnished a touching proof of personal attachment 
and regard, he was at the time constrained to de- 
cline, under the conviction that the pressure of 
engagements in a new and important field of labor 
would not allow him the time and leisure demanded 
by such an undertaking. The lapse of a couple of 
years having supplied no biographer, he yielded to 
a renewed application, and consented to make the 
attempt. He was encouraged by the consideration 
that his venerable friend had left a minute account 
of the early years of his active and varied life, bring- 
ing the narrative nearly to the point of time at 
which the writer was favored to form a personal 

(vii) 



Vlll PREFACE. 

acquaintance with him, to enjoy his friendship, 
and to possess many opportunities, in the in- 
timacy of daily intercourse, to study the develop- 
ments of his mind and character. His aim has 
been to draw the portrait of his friend just as the 
vivid recollections of thirty years presented him to 
the mental vision ; aiming at simple exactness and 
fidelity to truth in the picture. The lessons taught 
by the life of this eminent, useful, and beloved 
minister of Christ are of great value to the Church, 
and should not be lost or forgotten. May this 
volume, which presents the memorabilia of that life, 
be the means of perpetuating in the world not only 
the impression of its excellences, but the living 
spirit of grace in Christ Jesus, which was the source 
of all its sanctity and usefulness. 

WoFFCAD College, S. G. 



LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS, 1).D. 



Iluolhctions of Spelf 



IN MY PAST LIFE. 



f WAS born January 26, 1790, at my father's 
winter residence, (his plantation,) on Bull-Head 
Swamp, in the Prrish of St. Thomas, South Caro- 
lina, some twenty miles from Charleston : a place 
which at the present time might be accounted no 
place ; though it was then valuable, and had served 
to make my forefathers comfortable, and to keep them 
so for several generations. Indeed, it could have 
been no mean place at the time of my birth ; for 
when, some four years afterwards, my father re- 
moved to Georgetown District, it was with the pro- 
ceeds of the sale of this Bull-Head plantation, as 
I have heard him say, that he purchased a planta- 
tion on the island just by Georgetown, than which 
there are now no lands in the State more valuable. 
It is fair to say, however, that the change was then 
only beginning which transferred the culture of rice 
from the inland swamps, with their reservoirs of 
water, to the tide-lands ; where only, for the last 

(11) 



12 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

half century, this grain has been produced for 
market. 

Our name, Capers, I suppose to be derived from 
France, and the first of the name in South Caro- 
lina were Huguenots. Of this, however, I am not 
certain, nor is it of any consequence. I remember 
to have heard no more from my father about it than 
that he had never seen the name in any English 
catalogue of names. Those of the name in Beau- 
fort District, South Carolina, who are descended 
from the same original stock with us, say that the 
name is French, and that our ancestor was of the 
Huguenots ; and I dare say they are right. 

My father's name was William ; and that of his 
father and grandfather, Kichard. Of my father's 
father, I know little more than that he died in 
middle life, leaving two sons, George Sinclair and 
William, and no daughter. After his death, his 
widow, my grandmother, having contracted an un- 
happy marriage, my father's uncle. Major Gabriel 
Capers, of Christ Church Parish, became his foster- 
father, and did nobly for him. He had five (or 
more) daughters, but no son, and my father became 
his son in all possible respects. My great-grand- 
father survived his son many years : a large healthy 
fat man of peculiar manners ; dressing in osnaburgs 
and plains, (a kind of coarse woollen,) at home, 
and in broadcloth and silks, stiffened with excess 
of gold lace and a powdered wig, when he went 
abroad. A different kind of man was my father, 
whose name I cannot mention without emotion, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 18 

after thirty-eight years since I saw him buried. 
I have studied his character with intense interest, 
and honor his memory in every feature of it with 
my whole soul. A chivalrous soldier of the Revo- 
lution was he, whose ardent patriotism cooled not 
to the last of life ; and yet, after a few years in the 
Legislature following the establishment of peace, 
he held no civil office whatever, and was seldom 
seen on public occasions, except in his office as 
Major of Brigade, to muster the troops. He was a 
military man — the war of the Revolution had made 
him so — and to muster a brigade seemed his high- 
est recreation. But no one I ever knew was more 
a man of peace than my father was. Social and 
unselfish, generous, kind, and gentle, he loved not 
war. I dare say his nature was impulsive, but it 
was the opposite of passionate. Benevolence sup- 
plied his strongest incentives, and the serving of 
others seemed to be his favorite mode of serving 
himself. I never knew him to be involved in a per- 
sonal difficulty but once ; and then it was on ac- 
count of a wrong done by an unreasonable neigh- 
bor to one of his negroes. His education had been 
interrupted by the Revolutionary war, and was 
therefore imperfect ; but he had a clear and strong 
understanding, was fond of Natural Philosophy 
and Mechanics, wrote with ease aiid perspicuity, 
and in conversation was eminently engaging. He 
was born October 13, 1768; just at the right 
time, he was fond to saj'', that he might have a full 
share in the war of his country's independence. 



14 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

And yet, with the Butlers, of South Carolina, (eoni 
of a worthy sire who did his country good service,) 
I have to complain that my father's name does not 
appear in any history of the American Revolution. 
There is, indeed, a small volume, by the late Chan- 
cellor James, in which his name is mentioned, and 
we are told of his giving several thousand dollars* 
(I think it was) for a blanket, and several hundred 
for a penknife; and some passing compliment is 
paid to his courage and devotion to the country ; 
and besides this I have seen nothing more. And 
yet I am bound to claim for him that he fought with 
the bravest and best, first as a lieutenant in the 
second regiment, when General Moultrie was 
Colonel, Marion Lieutenant-Colonel, and Horry a 
Captain ; and afterwards, till the close of the war, 
as one of General Marion's captains, and his inti- 
mate friend. 

He was one of the defenders of Charleston in 
the battle of Fort Sullivan, (Fort Moultrie ;) was in 
the battle of Eutaw; was at the siege of Savannah, 
where Pulaski fell, and not far from him at that fatal 
moment; and was at the battle of Rugelj^'s Mills, 
which happened after his escape from imprison- 
ment in Charleston, and before he had rejoined 
Marion. Indeed, he was there in search of Marion, 
whom he expected to find with General Gates, but 
found not, as he had gone on an expedition to Fort 

* Such was Uie depreciation of what was called ** Continental 
oMwey." 



AUTOBIOGBAPHT. 1£ 

Motte. At Stono, where the lamented Laurens 
fell^ he was present and fought like himself; at the 
siege of Charleston he was one of its defenders, 
and one of those who accompanied Major Huger 
on the service, which on their return proved fatal 
to that gallant officer, by a false alarm, through the 
inadvertence of a sentinel, whereby many lost their 
lives by the fire of their own countrymen from 
their own lines of defence; besides numerous 
skirmishes which have never found a record in the 
books, though they contributed no mean quota to 
the defence of the country. 

The silence of the books to the contrary notwith- 
standing, I might adduce something like proof of 
Marion's friendship for him, from a conversation 
with Mrs, Marion herself, the General's widow, in 
the winter of 1806-7, when in obedience to my 
father's commands I called at her house, on my 
way to Charleston, to make his respects and inquire 
after her health. I might tell how the announce- 
ment of my name to the servant in waiting brought 
her venerable person to the door ; how eagerly she 
asked if I was the son of her valued friend ; how 
she seized my hand in both of hers with a hearty 
shake, and " God bless your father !** and how late 
it was that night before I was dismissed to bed 
from tales of my father's chivalry and noble heart. 
And many a time in the course of my earlier life 
was I honored on my father's account ; and never 
Mave I met with officer or soldier of Marion's com- 
nm>ud who was not my friend for my facer's sake 



16 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

But with respect to his connection with the 
second regiment, early in the war. If I mistake 
not, there were two regiments (possibly more) 
raised by the State of South Carolina at the be- 
ginning of the war, for the general cause of the 
Revolution, and not for service within the State 
only ; and for this reason they were called QmUnen' 
tal regiments. This one of them, as I have just 
said, was commanded at first by Moultrie, with 
Marion and Horry for Lieutenant- Colonel and 
Major. And it was while these oflicers com- 
manded, that my father, though not of age, held a 
commission in it. In proof of this, besides having 
heard it affirmed repeatedly by both my father and 
uncle, I happen to have in my possession a note 
from General Horry to my father in the year 1802, 
which I deem conclusive. The occasion of the note 
seems to have been some diflference of opinion on 
a point of tactics between my father, then Brigade 
Major, and his General of Brigade, Conway, which 
had been referred to General Horry; who, after 
giving his opinion, concludes the note with these 
express words : ^^If my memory do not fail me, / thiiik 
mch zoos the itsc^e, or custom, in the second regiment, to 
which we both belonged in June of our Oontinenial war." 
Here, then, is explicit testimony from the best pos- 
sible authority, as to the fact that he belonged to 
the second regiment; in what capacity is not 
stated, but it must have been as an officer, for it 
would have been ridiculous in the General to make 
iuch an allusion with respect to a private, and we 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. ll 

claim for him no higher rank in that regiment than 
that of Lieutenant. But the Qenerars note serves 
me for another point. It appears that he and my 
father both belonged to the second regiment, " m 
June of our Continental war/' What June must that 
have been ? The phraseology is peculiar, and can 
make sense only on the supposition that there was 
one June unmistakably distinguished from the 
rest, for there were several Junes during "our Con- 
tinental war.'* It could have been no other than 
June, 1776, distinguished above all others of the 
Revolution, especially to officers of the second 
regiment, by the battle of Port Moultrie. There 
was no June for the second regiment before that, 
for it had not been organized and in service, and 
that was its first great achievement. Nor could 
there have been any June after it of which General 
Horry might say that he and my father did then 
belong to the second regiment ; for shortly after the 
battle of Fort Moultrie, Marion becoming a parti- 
san General, both Horry and my father left that 
regiment and joined him — one as colonel and the 
other as captain. 

I have been thus particular because of that mor- 
tifying silence of the books; and because I have 
even seen a printed list purporting to give the 
names of all the persons who were engaged in the 
battle of Fort Moultrie, from which my father's 
name was omitted. This surprises me more than 
any thing else, for as to the period of his service as 

one of Marion's captains, the peculiar modeof war- 
2 



18 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

fare adopted by the General made it extremely dif- 
ficult to gather information of numerous important 
actions, whilst his army was so often to be found 
in detachments only, here and there, from the 
Combahee to the Pee-Dee river. Indeed, I believe 
that after the fall of Charleston there was a con- 
siderable period of time in which it was seldom 
embodied in any great force. And yet there was 
always ^ galling impracticable foe, hard to be 
found, and still harder to be got rid of, by British 
or Tory, It was some one of Marion's captains, 
trained and qualified by that great commander to 
play the General on a smaller scale. Much of such 
service fell to my father's share, and many a thrill- 
ing incident of his scouting-parties have I heard 
related by him, which I would like to give, but 
that, at this distance of time, they are not distinct 
enough in detail to my recollection to be narrated 
with accuracy. They appear indistinctly, or, rather, 
confusedly, so that I cannot be sure that I have all 
the parts of any event in order, or that parts of one 
do not belong to another. But I can state with 
certainty the facts respecting his being once taken 
prisoner by the Tories ; and of his escape from the 
prison in Charleston not many weeks afterwards. 
These are not the incidents I would choose to 
select, if my memory served me as well for the 
rest; nevertheless, you may think them worth pre* 
serving; or, if not, blot them out. 

My uncle and father were on furlough for a 
abort time, and had reached my uncle's residence, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 19 

while the Tories were in force in the neighbor- 
hood. My uncle's wife was at the point of death, 
and he would not leave her for the night, notwith- 
standing the imminent danger of remaining in the 
house with the Tories so near him. My father 
would not leave his brother alone in so much 
danger. They barricaded the house as well as 
they could, and awaited the issue. As they had 
feared, the Tories were upon them before it was 
lights- a full company surrounding the house. 
Flight was impossible; they must be taken; and 
they would make terms ; but how ? They affected 
to be a company themselves^ muttering a mimicry 
of many voices, moving rapidly about, and by 
every artifice in their power seeming to be a house- 
full, and not two persons only. The stratagem suc- 
ceeded, and the craven foe formally demanded a 
surrender. They were not quick to answer the 
demand, but kept up their bustling with all their 
might. The demand to surrender was repeated; 
and in answer to it they inquired how many of the 
assailants there were. A parley ensued, and thej 
finally surrendered on condition that, on sacred 
honor, the men should be treated as prisoners of 
war, and the house should not be molested. This 
being done with due formality, they marched out, 
two men of them, to the extreme mortification of 
the valiant Tory and his command. They were 
taken to Charleston, delivered to the Commandant, 
Colonel Balfour, and put in prison. Their apart- 
ment was in the third story of the jail, with somo 



20 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

eight or ten other prisoners. It happened that 
among the gentlemen of the city and surrounding 
country, who had taken the protection offered by 
the British after the fall of Charleston, (and of 
which they afterwards had so much cause to com- 
plain,) there was a Mr. Fogartie, an acquaintance 
of my father and uncle, and of others of the pri- 
soners, who visited them almost daily, and procui'ed 
them many comforts. And after some weeks of 
their imprisonment had passed, this gentleman, who 
was ever kindly interested for them, brought the 
appalling tidings of its having been determined to 
convey them away from the city to the West 
Indies. He had overheard an order to the effect 
that a vessel should be got ready for this purpose 
forthwith, and should sail by the next fair wind. 
Nothing could have been more abhorrent to them 
than this information. Their very souls were sick 
of the accounts they had heard of the prison-ships 
in that quarter to which they were to be sent^ — 
their crowded condition, want of food, excessive 
^. heat, stench, and vermin, worse than death. What 
possible attempt might enable if but half of them 
to escape at the sacrifice of the rest ? And it was 
presently concluded that Mr. Fogartie should pro- 
cure a boat and hands to be in readiness at the 
market wharf that evening, and, if possible, arms 
and animunition for their use ; and that they would 
seize the moment when the turnkey came at dusk 
to see that all was well, to rush forth together, and 
seizing the arms of the sentry at their door, pro- 



AUTOBIOGEAPHY. 21 

cipitate themselves on the next and the next along 
the stairs, killing or being killed, till they had 
made their way to the street, and thence by flight 
to the boat. Could half of them hope to survive 
so desperate an attempt ? Perhaps not, but death 
on the spot, rather than a West India prison-ship, 
was their unanimous voice. 

This being their determination, the faithful 
Fogartie left them, to arrange for his part in the 
plot — the procurement of arms and a boat at the 
water-side. There were not many hours for reflec- 
tion before the fearful point of time when liberation 
or the bayonet had been fixed on ; and it is not 
surprising that with the chances so terribly against 
them, one and another, as the evening came on, 
showed symptoms of a love of life. The first for 
the plot were the first to abandon it. For several 
hours the majority stood firm ; but the minority 
could not be reclaimed, but finally overcame the 
majority, who concluded that the chances for escape 
must be diminished by as much as their number 
was reduced, and the plot had better be abandoned. 
N"ot so with my father, whose resolution had been 
taken too firmly to be reconsidered. His last hope 
was in his brother ; who, though he would gladly 
have been one with the rest in the plot, deemed it 
mad for two only to attempt to escape by such 
means, and strove earnestly to dissuade him from 
his avowed purpose of going by himself alone if 
no one would go with him. The remonstrances of 
the rest he answered indifferently, or with a gibe, 



22 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

but his brother's importunities cost him some 
trouble ; till almost at the point of the time he 
turned sharply on him, and said, "Brother, I never 
thought myself a braver man than you. Now I 
know it. Make me not a coward." But the time 
was come. The steps of the turnkey were heard at 
the door. It was dusk, and w^as growing dark on 
the stairs. If the turnkey could be deceived, might 
not the desperate man escape ? They had in the 
room a great bowl out of which they drank their 
punch ; and there was a little punch at the bottom 
of the bowl. This my uncle took, and placing 
himself next to the door, was ready, the moment 
it should be opened, to offer it to the willing turur 
key. It was done. The great bowl hid every 
thing from him except the punch in the bottom of 
it, and my father instantly was gone. I learned 
from my uncle that it was not difficult to engage 
the attention of the turnkey, who loved punch 
dearly, long enough to afford my father ample time 
for his escape. But that escape. Whether in the 
dusk the sentry at the head of the stairs took him 
for a visitor, or for the turnkey himself, my father 
knew not; but they had no dream of his being a 
prisoner making his escape, and so suffered him to 
pass without molestation. Just passed them, and 
having begun to descend the stairs, his foot slipped, 
and he tumbled down the whole flight of steps to 
the platform at their turning, where the next 
sentrj^ was posted. A laugh and sneer from the 
sentinel, who probably took him to be drunk, was 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 28 

all that came of it. This furnished a hint which 
he improved ; and after the same seemingly drunken 
manner he descended to the lower floor, and made 
his way out of the house. His friend was waiting 
at the appointed place, but had failed of procuring 
a boat, on account of extreme bad weather. Not a 
moment could be lost ; but taking a pistol and a 
hasty adieu, he was in a trice at the Fish-Market 
landing. There, luckil}^ he found a negro fisher- 
man bailing a boat ; and leaping into it and pre- 
senting his pistol, he ordered him to his paddle and 
off for Haddreirs Point. The affrighted fisherman 
promptly obeyed^ only exclaiming that they must 
be lost : the boat could not possibly live in such a 
storm. He paddled stoutly — as they well know 
how to do — and my father found it necessary to be- 
take himself, for his part, to bailing the boat of the 
water which dashed in over her bows. But there 
was another danger impending which he dreaded 
even more than the agitated waters. The British 
galleys were lying in the stream, and it was impos- 
sible to escape their watchfulness. They must see 
him, would hail him, and what should he do? 
The best expedient he could think of, and pro- 
bably the only one which could have availed him, 
was suggested by the lucky mistake of the sentry 
on the staircase, taking him to be drunk ; and so 
he summoned his utmost powers to act the part of 
a drunken sailor. Long before the expected hail 
of "What boat's that?" he began singing and 
huzzaing lustily, now a stanza of some vulgar 



21 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

song, then "God save great George our king;" ming- 
ling it to suit, and interlarding it with all sorts of 
drunken rhapsody. He was hailed, and returned 
it by giving himself some common name, claiming 
to belong to one of the galleys, and stoutly pro- 
testing he was too drunk and the water too rough ; 
huzzaing for the king, for the commandant, and 
almost any British officer whose name he knew; 
professing to be as brave and true as any of them, 
but that he had got drunk among the "gals" on 
shore, and would not come to. Of course, then, 
he had to pass. He was not worth shooting at, 
and the next day would bring ^him to condign 
punishment. And now the jail, the storm, the 
galleys, all were passed in safety ; and landing at 
Haddreirs Point, and giving a guinea to the negro 
whose boat and paddle had been so serviceable to 
him, he was once more one of Marion's men. 

But my honored* father was a Christian. It was 
on the first introduction of the Methodist ministry 
into South Carolina that, under the preaching of 
Henry Willis, of blessed memory, in the year 1786, 
he was awakened and converted, and became a 
soldier of the Prince of Peace. His name, and that 
of my maternal grandfather, John Singeltary, may 
be seen in the original conveyances for the first 
two Methodist churches built in Charleston, (Cum- 
berland Street and Trinity,) of which they were 
trustees. After his removal to Georgetown, in 
1794, he became ^ strong pillar of the infant church 
in that place, serving as trustee, steward, and 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 2^ 

leader. A later removal to Waccamaw Neck proved 
unfavorable to his spirituality, and it was not till 
1808, in Sumter District, that he recovered all that 
he had lost of the life of faith. Thenceforward 
till his final removal to the life above, December 
12, 1812, he was a pattern of piety, an example of 
pure and undefiled religion, such as for consist- 
ency, simplicity, and power I have never known 
excelled. His death was surpassingly triumphant. 
I witnessed it, and was with him day and night for 
several months whilst he was passing down into 
the valley of Jordan. AH was peace, and power, 
and exultant hope. There was no moment of dark- 
ness in his final sickness, no thorn in the pillow of 
his repose, no distrust of the Saviour, no lack of 
confidence in God, but gloriously the reverse. His 
light was that of the perfect day, his peace was as 
a river, he believed with all his heart, and at the 
time of his extremest pain he would say, with 
Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in 
Him." 

My mother was Mary, daughter of John and 
Sarah Singeltary, of Cain Hoy, in the same Parish 
of St. Thomas, aforesaid: another place of the 
olden time, when South Carolina was peopled 
mainly in the low country, and Wando river, of 
whose banks Cain Hoy was the most notable place, 
shared with Ashley river. Cooper river, and Goose 
creek, in a high reputation for society, hospitality, 
and all that ; times gone by with the generations 
whose very tombs are now in ruins. But by on© 
2 



26 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBR8. 

conversant with those times, (the late Captain 
Ilibben, of Haddrell's Point,) I have heard my 
grandfather spoken of as " the patriarch of Cain 
Hoy." And such I dare say he w^s, albeit a re- 
cent visitor might entertain some doubt whether 
the place had ever produced a man. But truly 
there used to be men, who were men every inch of 
them, not only on Wando river, but along creeks 
and swamps not a few, where now a ruined canal, 
and heaps of crumbling bricks, and clumps or rows 
of ornamental trees, tell mournfully of death and a 
blight upon the land. 

I have always felt it a pain that I never knew 
my mother. She died when I was barely over two 
years old. Often and eagerly have I inquired 
about her: her person, her spirit, her piety, her 
general bearing ; any thing that might help to raise 
an image of her in my mind. In this way I have 
learned that she was rather below the medium 
height of women, delicately formed, of fair com- 
plexion and light hair, with soft laughing blue 
eyes, gentle but sprightly, affectionate and confid- 
ing, a favorite with her friends, and my father's 
idol ; and that her sweet spirit was ennobled by a 
true Christian faith and purity of heart. I am in 
possession of a letter from my father to my aunt, 
the late Mrs. Bennett, of Haddrell's Point, in which 
are related incidents of her final hours thrilling to 
contemplate. She died when young, and rich in 
blessings precious to the heart ; but she was more 
than ready to obey the summons, "to be absent 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 27 

from the body and present with the Lord.*' Her 
last moments, radiant with the light of heaven 
before her, were mostly taken up with soothing ex- 
hortations to her husband, and prayers and bless- 
ings, for her children. These were four: Sarah, 
my beloved sister, who was the eldest, Gabriel the 
second, myself the third, and John Singeltary, 
(whose birth occasioned her death,) the fourth. 
She had had a second daughter, Mary Singeltary, 
who died some time before her. 

My second mother, whose name also was Mary, 
was a daughter of Samuel Wragg, Esq., of George- 
town ; the same who was the original proprietor of 
that part of Charleston called Wraggsboro' ; and 
after whose daughters, Judith, Elizabeth, Ann, 
Charlotte, Mary, and Henrietta, the streets bearing 
those names were called. He had also two sons, 
John and Samuel. My aunts (for my aunts they 
were) Judith and Elizabeth lived to old age, 
maiden ladies of uncommon understanding, (parti- 
cularly Judith,) and distinguished to a high degree 
for ardent piety and active benevolence. They 
were Christian ladies, and Methodists of the very 
first model. Ann married a wealthy gentleman of 
the name of Ferguson, and lived in Charleston, 
with their estate on Cooper river. They were 
Episcopalians ; and she was for many years First 
Lady Commissioner of the Orphan House, which 
noble institutian was much indebted to her, and 
has. becomingly acknowledged it. Charlotte must 
have died when young, as I have no recollection of 



28 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPJIRS. 

her. Henrietta, the youngest of the daughters, 
married Erasmus Rothmahler, Esq., of an old and 
honorable family, and a lawyer of high respects, 
but (unfortunately) an eccentric man. Of all my 
near friends in childhood and youth, after my 
father and mother, I loved my Aunt Henrietta best : 
and to this day I remember her with strong affec- 
tion, and I might say admiration, a& a pattern of 
all social excellence. And she too was a thorough 
Methodist. 

In what follows I will be understood always to 
mean my father's second wife, my second mother, 
by the appellative mother. I knew no other mother, 
and I should offend the heart that throbs in my 
bosom were I to call her stepmother. She was my 
mother, and in heaven, in the presence of the 
sainted one who bore me, I will call her mother. 
Pity on those poor children who, by their father's 
marriage, have stepmothers only. My early recol- 
lections mingle sweet images of my mother's love 
and sympathy with all that concerned me. I was 
liable to attacks of croup on any exposure to damp 
weather ; and so on rainv davs I became her house- 
keeper, carrying a bunch of keys at my side, giving 
from the pantry breakfast, dinner, and supper, with 
free use of the barrel of sugar and molasses-candy 
for my pains — the indulgence, by the way, being 
itself remedial. By a thousand arts of kind en- 
dearment she attached me to her so closely, that I 
scarcely felt it a privation to be shut up with her in 
the house, while my brothers were pursuing their 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 29 

sports in the fields. Those days were invaluable to 
me. Converse with my mother was communion 
with my guardian angel, while my good sister's 
blithesome spirit (for she was always by) contri- 
buted no little to my happiness. 

My father's second marriage was in 1793, and 
shortly afterwards he disposed of his estate in St. 
Thomas's Parish, purchased a plantation on the is- 
land between Waccamaw and Black rivers, and re- 
moved his residence to Georgetown. While his win- 
ter residence had been on Bull Head, in St. Thomas's, 
he passed his summers at a place which he called 
Capernaum, on the seashore, nearly opposite Ca- 
pers's Island, in Christ Church Parish. He now 
desired to find such a seashore place on Waccamaw 
Neck ; and as he did not like to live in town, and 
his island plantation was a deep mud-swamp, un- 
suitable for his residence, he was inclined to locate 
himself permanently on the Waccamaw seashore. 
A summer or two were passed at a rented place 
called La Bruce's, while for the winter and spring 
he resided in town ; and then he purchased a place 
some twenty miles from Georgetown, which he called 
Belle Vue, and at which we lived during the years 
1796, '97, and '98. It was beautifully open to the 
ocean, having the prospect pleasantly dotted with 
clumps of trees in the marshes, (called hammocks,) 
and points of uncleared woods on the main land. 
My recollections go back to the year 1795, at La 
Bruce's seashore, where I killed a glass snake, the 
image of which is still fresh to my mind ; and how, 



30 LIFE OB* WILLIAM CAPERS. 

as I broke it to pieces with a small stick, the pieceS| 
when broken square oft', wormed themselves about 
as if alive. There, too, I myself had like to have 
been killed by a vicious horse; and there we had 
the sport of smoking off* the sand-flies. Do not 
laugh. Prince Albert's boys never had a merrier 
play. But Belle Vue was my childhood's darling 
home. Here were those spacious old fields, over- 
grown with dog-fennel, which my brother John and 
myself used to course with such exquisite glee, 
mounted on cornstalk horses, with bows and ar- 
rows, when the dog-fennel served for woods, and a 
cock-sparrow might be an old buck. Here stood 
by the side of a purling branch, that grove of tall 
trees where we found the grape-vine, by which we 
used to swing so pleasantly. Here we had our 
traps for catching birds, and caught them plenti- 
fully; and the damp days found me with my mother 
and sister and the little ones, all so happy. And 
here I got that masterly book for little boys, " Sand- 
ford and Merton;" which, in my mother's hand, 
proved invaluable to me. .Ai^d, like Harry and 
Tommy, my brothers and I would build little houses 
wattled of clapboards and small poles, and exult 
in our fancied manliness and capacity for independ- 
ence. But we were sure to have a stronger arm 
and better understanding than our own in all these 
achievements of ours ; and without which it might 
have been more than doubtful whether, after all, 
we should have proved so competent to our under- 
takings. Bless my father! Blessed be God that 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 81 

he was my father ! What should Belle Vue, with 
all its play-places, have been without his super- 
intendence, who seemed to enter into the spirit of 
our childish entertainments as if he had been a 
child himself, while still he never seemed below the 
stature of the noblest man ? 

But I must tell an anecdote or two of these early 
years which savor less of simple, amiable child- 
hood. My father was exceeding fond of gardens, 
and had a large one; and we, his sons, fond of 
doing like him, must also have our gardens. A 
bed was appropriated to each one of us, (Gabriel, 
myself, and John,) which we subdivided into tiny 
beds, with narrow walks between, for the cultiva- 
tion of just any thing we pleased. Radishes were 
our favorite vegetable. I had them in my garden 
full grown, while John's were but lately up. We 
were together in our gardens, which touched each 
other, and John wanted one of my radishes. Un- 
luckily, I was out of humor, and refused him. 
Unused to this, for generally we were fond to serve 
each other, he heeded not my refusal, but plucked a 
radish. This was an invasion of my rights, which, 
in the mood I happened to be in, I would not per- 
mit ; and so, instead of laughing at it, as at another 
time I might have done, I plucked a handful of his 
little ones in retaliation — reckoning the equivalent 
(if I reckoned at all) by bulk. This angered him, 
and he avenged himself by pulling up a quantity 
of mine, as if reckoning by number for his oom- 
jilement. A few minutes, and the radishes were 



-fp 



82 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

destroyed, both mine and his, and we were greatly 
enraged against each other. At that moment our 
father, who had been observing us from another 
part of the garden, interfered ; and, as I was the 
older, addressed himself first to me. The fault, I 
insisted, was altogether John's, who had no right 
to pluck my radishes against my will. He (my 
father) would let no man serve him so ; and had 
fought the British for no worse offence. But my 
logic could not answer. "I must whip you,** said 
he; "and take your jacket off.'* "Whip m6, sir, 
for JbAn'5 fault?" "Foryourown fault, not John's." 
"I declare. Pa, 'tis all John's fault; and I'll pull 
off my shirt too, if you say so." "Off with it," was 
the brief rejoinder; and oft' it came, when a smart 
stroke of a switch across my naked shoulders, (the 
first I had ever felt,) brought me as by magic to my 
senses. It was the only stroke of punishment ever 
inflicted on me bv that honored hand. 

My recollection of incidents of this period of my 
childhood is vivid enough as to facts, but the order 
of them as to time I cannot so well remember. I 
date about a year later than the affair of the rad- 
ishes the following story of the top. Both belong 
to Belle Vue, and must have happened between the 
years 1796 and 1799. My brothers and myself had 
each obtained a top, which neither of us could 
spin ; and a thought seized me to practice by my- 
seiiqfi, spinning my top, which, as other boys could 
do it, 1 niight learri, and by learning it sooner than 
my br(fl!hers, 'might win some wager of them ; (foi 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 88 

each of us had something for his own of almost 
every kind of property on the place.) In a short 
time I had spun the top, and, elated with my suc- 
cess, ran eagerlj'' to find my brothers, that I might 
make a bet. But they were abroad somewhere in 
the fields, and a wager must be ventured with my 
father, (if possibly he might be induced to make 
one,) or my betting must be postponed to another 
time. Too eager to allow of postponement, the 
venture was made in an off-hand manner on the 
spot. The stake was my heifer against his saddle- 
horse that I could spin my top. "Done," said my 
father, and I spun the top. Fantom was mine, and 
I capered about the room, and would have run to 
the stable to admire and caress him, but my father 
sternly stopped me. " Honor even among rogues," 
said he, " and if you turn gambler, you must do it 
as they say, honorably. You are not to leave off 
without giving me a chance to win my horse back." 
Another trial, and I lost the horse. Another, and 
another, and yet others ; and bursting into tears 
I ran out of the room, having lost every thing I 
called my own except a favorite white pullet. For 
three days I bewailed my folly with all the bitter- 
ness of utter bankruptcy; while my brothers were 
unsparing of their gibes, and my father seemed 
coolly indifferent to it all. At last, finding me sit- 
ting moodily alone, he approached with his usual 
good-humor, and said he wanted to make a bargain 
with me. "A bargain, sir!" said I, "what have I 
to bargain with ? You have got all I had from rae 
3 



34 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBBS. 

And if I had spoken all that I felt, I might have 
added, that he knew it was wrong to bet, and ought 
to have whipped me for offering him a wager, and 
not to have done as he had done. But he insisted 
that I was quite able to make the bargain he de- 
sired; and when he had constrained me to ask 
what it was, he told me that all he had won should 
be restored to me, and should be mine again just 
as it formerly was, if I would pledge myself never 
again to bet the value of a pin ; and on the further 
condition, that if ever I did bet, I should forfeit to 
him whatever should be mine at the time of bet- 
ting. Never was a proposition more eagerly em- 
braced ; and the final result of this strange inci- 
dent was, that I became so thoroughly averse from 
betting as never afterwards to be induced to bet. 
Long after all fear of the forfeit originally pledged 
had passed from my mind, and until a better gua- 
ranty was furnished me in the grace of God, I not 
only hated betting so as never to lay a wager, but 
hated it to such a degree that I would break off 
from any company I chanced to be in, the moment 
it was proposed to play at any game for money. 

But it is time for me to take leave of Belle Vue, 
When my father, purchased it, he did so with an 
expectation of its proving healthy. It was incon- 
veniently distant from his plantation, and we had 
so few neighbors that to get a school he was obliged 
to employ a teacher at his own expense. Neverthe- 
less, for the sake of a pleasant and healthy resi- 
dence, with the treasures of the sea at hand, these 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 86 

inconveniences were not deemed considerable. 
But the fall of the year 1798 proved extremely 
sickly to us, and my precious little sister Judith 
died. On this account, mainly, Belle Vue was 
given up, and for the year 1799 we resided in 
Georgetown. Not that this change could have 
promised exemption from disease, but that in case 
of sickness we should there have medical aid. 
Belle Vue had proved sickly; Georgetown might 
not be more so ; and the latter place brought my 
father near to his business, my mother near her sis- 
ters, and all of us near the physician. But we were 
not to suffer less by this removal ; for the autumn of 
1799 was more fatal to our family than the previous 
one had been. All of us were sick; another 
younger sister (Elizabeth) died ; I myself escaped 
death as by miracle ; and the fatal blow was struck 
which deprived my father of one of the best of 
wives, and me of my incomparable mother. The 
following winter my widowed father dismissed his 
overseer, and the plantation became our home. Dur- 
ing the year 1800 1 was daily put across the river in a 
small boat with my brothers, and went to Mr. 
Harnett's school in Georgetown. We dined with our 
good aunts, the Misses Wragg, and returned home in 
the evening as we had come in the morning, a servant 
always having the boat in readiness for us at the 
river-bank, in sight of town. My father seldom 
went to town, nor, indeed, anywhere else ; and yet 
my young heart knew not that he was unhappy. 
The next spring (1801) I was sent, with my brother 



36 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

Gabriel, to school on Pee-Dee, some thirty miles 
from Georgetown, where a Mr. Collins was the 
teacher; but, for some sufficient cause, he suddenly 
left his charge, and after a month or two we re- 
turned home. 

This period, when the island rice-swamp was my 
home, introduced me to the use of a gun. It was 
before the Northern lakes had been much settled, 
on which bred so many myriads of ducks and wild 
geese ; and these migrated to our low country rivers 
and rice-fields for the winters, in prodigious num- 
bers. From my father's river-bank on the Wacca- 
maw on one side, or the Black river on the other, 
innumerable flocks of them might at any time be 
seen ; and better-flavored birds than several varie- 
ties of the ducks were, after they had grown fat on 
the waste rice, I know not. My father taught me 
the use of the gun with great care : how to handle 
it, to load it, to shoot with a true aim, and to keep 
it in good order ; so that before I was twelve years 
old I believe I was as safe in the use of this dan- 
gerous implement as I have since been, and nearly 
or quite as good a marksman. I generally shot 
ducks in the river ; observing from a distance at what 
particular points they were nearest to the land, and 
then creeping after them behind the river-bank, 
(that is, the embankment raised along the margin 
of the river for the purpose of keeping off the 
water at the flood-tide.) A well- trained dog kept 
close behind me, creeping when he saw me creep, 
or stopping at a motion of my hand, and instantly 



AtlTOBIOGRAPHY. 87 

on the firing of the gun springing into the water 
and fetching out the game. So abundant were 
they, and easy to be shot, that I would not fire at 
inferior kinds, but only at the large gray duck, the 
mallard or English duck, the bullneck, or the deli- 
cious little teal ; which last was the least common, 
and was most esteemed, though not more than a 
third as large as the black or gray duck, or half as 
large as the mallard. 

But farewell to the island and its game, after 
only one incident of imminent peril to me. It was 
some time in the summer of 1800 that, as we were 
sitting in the piazza overlooking the fields, we were 
startled at seeing the whole gang of negroes, men 
and women, running as for life towards the house. 
My father, my brother Gabriel and myself ran out 
to know the cause, and thought we heard the fore- 
most ones crying out, "A deer, a deer!" My father 
took his gun in haste, thinking that a deer chased 
by hunters on the Waccamaw side of the river 
had swum across it, and was making for the un- 
cleared swamp just in our rear, and that he would 
run probably on the western side of the settlement, 
where he might get a shot at him. On the eastern 
side was the barnyard, and mill for pounding rice ; 
and to prevent his going that way, and to increase 
the chances for a shot on the other, he bade my 
brother and me to run in that direction with the 
dogs. Now, for the special security of the barnyard, 
there was a much higher embankment thrown up 



38 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

around it than around other parts of the settlement^ 
80 that we could not see over it what might be run- 
ning in the fields beyond. With the dogs, then, we 
made all speed to the barnyard, entered it, were 
running across it, and at the very point of rising 
on the farther bank, there met us on the top of it, 
and just opposite the point we had reached, a great 
bear. Petrified with horror, we could not, at first, 
move a peg. The dogs had better command of their 
legs, and, except Dash, (the dog that fetched the 
ducks,) they ran away at the top of their speed. 
0, that frightful bear! He growled, raised his 
bristles, champed with his teeth, bent his body like 
a bow, all before we could do any thing more than 
stare at him. But Dash delivered us. Quick as 
was the retreat of the rest, was his advance upon 
the frightful foe ; and it seemed to be his bark that 
relaxed our nerves and enabled us to run. We had 
not so much as a stick in our hands. Dash seized 
the bear just by the tail, and obliged him to give 
him his attention. Bruin shook him off* and made 
at us ; but again Dash had him by the hinder parts. 
And thus it was between them several minutes, till 
my father, learning his mistake, came running, and 
the whole plantation with him, to the rescue. 
Negroes are famous for their noisiness when ex- 
cited ; but did ever the same number make such a 
noise as those then did, as entering the barnyard 
they saw the danger we were in? At any rate, 
they scared that bear no less than they gave as 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 89 

courage, and he made away as fast as he could, and 
hid himself under the mill. He was made bacon 
of afterwards, and I ate some of it. 

In September, 1801, my brother Gabriel and my- 
self were sent to Dr. Roberts's academy, near 
Statesburg, in Sumter District, and were boarded 
with a Mrs. Jefferson. And this I reckon an im- 
portant epoch in my life. Hitherto, whether in 
Georgetown, at Belle Vue, or at the island planta- 
tion, I had been accustomed to all the endearments 
of home, sweet home ; a home where all my wants 
were anticipated, and not only every comfort was 
at hand, but the ministries of tender love were ever 
active for my happiness. The death of my mother 
was a sore affliction ; but my sister (then just 
grown) became to me sister and mother both, and 
what was there lacking to me? Truly, nothing. 
But how different was it with me now, boarding a 
hundred miles away with Mrs. Jefferson. To what 
purpose had my heart been cultivated, when there 
was no one to sympathize with me, and whom I 
might love? That I slept on a mattress on the 
floor, with sheets of osnaburgs, and that my fare 
consisted of middling bacon and corn-bread, was 
a secondary matter. I felt a burden of want of 
another kind, though this also seemed severe. 
True, my brother Gabriel was with me, but where 
were my father, my sister, my brother John, and 
my younger brother and sisters, Samuel, Mary, and 
Henrietta ? Could my one brother be all these to 
me? Of necessity I sought to be loved by my 



40 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

hostess, and plied every art in my power to induce 
it, but to no purpose. Nor could I love her any 
more than I could make her love me. She did, 
indeed, once compliment me as the best of her 
boarders ; but the very term boarders^ in the cold, 
long-drawn utterance she gave it, told me that she 
(lid not love me. And then when she picked the 
thorn out of my foot with a coarse needle, she did 
it so roughly, never pitying me nor seeming to 
know that she was putting me to pain, though the 
blood trickled from the wound. The case was 
hopeless, and I was forced to retire within myself 
to supply as I might the want, the broad waste 
want of home. And yet she was a very good 
woman. 

But every day was improving my bodily health 
and strength. And though I fed on little else than 
corn-bread, (for I could not brook the middling 
bacon,) I was far more active and growing faster 
than ever before. Mv boardinff-house stood on the 
main road between Statesburg and Camden, just 
three miles from the former place, and touching 
the road. The academy was a mile and a half 
from it, on the summit of a hill ; and this distance 
was my daily walk to and from school. The mid- 
day recess was passed at the schoolhouse, to which 
we carried our dinner of corn-bread and bacon in 
a large tin bucket. And for dinner, my usual 
practice was to throw away the bacon, and repair 
to a neighboring spring of cold pure water, with a 
pone of bread, and there substituting my hand or 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 41 

a hickory^ leaf for a cup, make my meal, right 
frugally at least. At first I could not possibly 
make the walk to school without resting by the 
way; and even to ascend the hill on which the 
schoolhouse stood put me out of breath; but it 
was not long before I could even run the whole 
distance. The truth was, that up to this period I 
had been but a puny child ; frequently sick, some- 
times extremely ill ; and but for this great change 
must probably have grown up, if at all, too delicate 
of constitution for laborious life. I am so fully of 
this persuasion, as to regard it providential that 
my father's business would not allow of his accom- 
panying us on our way up, and we were committed 
to the care of a onesided friend of his to be entered 
at the academy and suitably boarded. Mr. Camp- 
bell could, but our father could not have subjected 
us to the extreme privations of such a boarding- 
house as ours, and the exposure of so long a 
walk in all kinds of weather: privations and ex- 
posures, nevertheless, for which I have long since 
known no regret, but, on the contrary, have felt 
thankful. 

And here both nature and gratitude require me 
to introduce the name of my father's only brother, 
Captain George Sinclair Capers, my most kind and 
truly honored uncle. Some years previously to 
this time he had removed from St. James's, San tee, 
to Sumter District, and located himself in what 
was called Rembert's Settlement, some eight or 
nine miles from our academy ; and our Saturdays 



12 LlPE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

and Sundays were usually passed with him. Hia 
practice was to send horses for us every Friday 
evening, and send us back again on Monday morn- 
ing. Nature, how true is nature ! and a child's 
heart is nature's own. I could love nothing be- 
longing to my boarding-house, and had no play- 
places there; no, not one; unless a wide-spreading 
oak should be called a play-place, to which I used 
to withdraw myself and sit among the boughs for 
hours together in moody reveries of home. But I 
loved the very horse that carried me to my uncle's 
door ; and there every thing interested me. I was 
loved, and was so far happy. 

About the close of the year 1801, my father ex- 
changed his island plantation for one on Wacca- 
maw river, adjoining the estate of John Tucker, 
Esq. ; tired, I suppose, of living in a swamp, 
where his very dwelling-house had to be protected 
from the overflowing tides by embankments. 
Home was thus again transferred to Waccamaw, 
though it was not long to be continued so. The 
Christmas holidays of 1802, 1803, and 1804, were all 
I enjoyed of it; the first with boundless satisfac- 
tion ; and the second and third only less so because 
of the absence of my sister, now married in Sum- 
ter District: if I might not also suppose that with 
less of innocency there is usually less of the pure 
zest of pleasure at fourteen than eleven. 

I have gone over, thus hastily, that period of my 
life which of all others interests me most. Can it 
be peculiar to myself that at my time of life I 



AtJTOBlOQRAPHY. 48 

should delight greatly in recollections of my child- 
hood ; reenacting, as it were, the scenes and pas- 
times of the little boy — my own childhood's fond 
amusements — for th6 entertainment of my gray 
hairs ? A few years ago I found a habit of indulg- 
ing such fancies growing on me to such a degree 
that I thought it proper to restrain myself; and 
yet to some extent it may not prove amiss, but 
even wholesome. I love my childhood for its inno- 
cence, its harmless gayety, its simple gladsome 
pastimes, its gushing sympathies, its treasures of 
affection, its unsuspecting confidence, its joyous- 
ness, its happy world of home. I love it because 
it was artless and without guile or guilt, free from 
the curse and blight of carking care, uncorrupted, 
trustful, self-satisfied. In a word, I love it for its 
naturalness, and because I was happy in it. Bless- 
ings on the memory of my honored parents that it 
was so ! And I say now, let the children be 
children. Let them have their plays in their own 
way, and choose them for themselves. We only 
spoil it by interfering. And I say more : away 
with all sickly sentimentalism, and the cruelty of 
unnatural constraint. What a deprivation it would 
have been to me at Belle Vue to have been refused 
my traps because it was cruel to catch the birds ! 
But I had my traps, and never dreamed of any 
cruelty in the matter. My father made the first 
one for me, and taught me how to make them, and 
how to set them, and to choose proper places for 
them. But he never made a cage for me, nor did 



44 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. • 

I ever want him to make one. God had given me 
the birds to eat, if I could catch them ; but not to 
shut them up in cages where they could do me no 
good. No artificial cases of conscience were made 
for me. I loved the birds. I loved to see their 
pretty feathers, and to hear them sing ; but I loved 
to taste of their flesh still better. And I might do 
so as inoflfensively as a cat, for any thing I was 
taught. The use gave the measure of right in the 
case. Such as I could not eat I would not catch. 
And I hate this day the mawkish philosophy which 
gives to the birds the sympathy due to the child- 
ren. Let the children be free and active. Let 
them have a mind and will. And let them have 
a parent's gentle, faithful guidance : neither the ill- 
judging weakness which is ever teasing them with 
interjections that mean nothing; nor the false re- 
finement which, while it must have the birds go 
free to carol in the groves, makes caged birds of the 
little children ; nor the tyranny of constraining 
them out of all their simple gleeful nature to be- 
have like old people. 

My father married a third wife early in the year 
1803, and began to spend his summers in the 
neighborhood of Bradford's Springs, in Sumter 
District. Some time before this, my boarding- 
house at school had been changed from the place 
before mentioned to that of my preceptor, hard by 
the academy. This was a decided improvement; 
for Mr. Roberts not only furnished better fare, but 
was himself a man for one to love and honor. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 46 

The summers of 1808, 1804, and 1805, were passed 
pleasantly enough, while the Saturdays and Sun- 
days were spent at our new summer home, with 
delightful visits to my honored uncle and beloved 
sister, then Mrs. Guerry. A summer residence 
near Bradford's Springs was well enough ; but my 
father was too active to be content at such a dis- 
tance from his plantation, and without any positive 
employment to occupy his time. This change for 
the summer, therefore, led to a much more im- 
portant one, which, as things turned out, proved 
highly detrimental on the score of property. In 
1805 he was induced to sell his plantation on 
Waccamaw river, and purchase a cotton plantation 
on the Wateree, near Statesburg. He sold also 
his summer place the following year, and pur- 
chased a seat for permanent residence on the Hills, 
some five or six miles from the Wateree plantation, 
and just three and a half miles from Statesburg, on 
the road to Darlington. I do not remember the 
price, and cannot judge of its sufficiency, for the 
Waccamaw place ; but the price given for the place 
purchased in its stead was certainly low enough. 
He gave for it six thousand dollars. And this 
must have been low; for when five years after- 
wards he judged it prudent to sell it, and remove 
to a less valuable place in the Black river portion 
of the District, it brought him eleven thousand 
dollars. And when the payment of the last instal- 
ment of this sum was refused, on the pretext that 
gome particular portion of the land deemed bettor 



46 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

than the rest had fallen short of the quantity sup- 
posed, Mr. McLauchlan, the next neighbor, and a 
responsible man, said on his oath in court that he 
believed it to be worth twenty thousand dollars. 
This was after the close of the war, and the price 
of cotton had risen very much ; but eleven thou- 
sand dollars was the price stipulated during the 
war, when the price of cotton was at its lowest. 
And yet my father made a sad bargain in purchas- 
ing it for that much smaller sum of six thousand 
dollars, as this purchase involved the sale of his 
rice lands, and the transfer of his planting interest 
from rice to cotton, just at the point of time when 
the value of a rice crop was to be doubled, and that 
of a cotton crop reduced to almost nothing. Never- 
theless, God's hand was in it for good. My mother's 
dying prayers had not yet been answered; nor 
might they have been on Waccamaw without a 
miracle. Her daughter was now a mother, and her 
sons were fast growing up without knowing her 
God in the light of her faith, or being concerned 
so to know Him. 

I was continued with Dr. Roberts till Decem- 
ber, 1805, when I was admitted into the South 
Carolina College. This Dr. John M. Roberts was 
a minister of the Baptist Church ; a most estim- 
able man and a good scholar, but an imperfect 
teacher. In Latin his text-books were Corderius, 
Erasmus, Cornelius Nepos, Caesar, Sallust, Virgil, 
Cicero's Orations, and Horace's Odes and Art of 
Poetry. These I had read, and could translate 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 47 

after a fashion, but had little knowledge of the 
analysis of what was translated. In recitation, our 
too easy instructor seemed to be more apprehen- 
sive of detecting the deficiency of his pupils, than 
we were of being exposed. His manner was that 
of one who might not expect us to know what we 
ought to have known; and asking us only ques- 
tions as to points of obvious construction, he 
reserved to himself the parsing of all difficult pas- 
sages. Of Greek, I had read the Gospel by St. 
John, and one or two of the Epistles, and perhaps 
a third part of Xenophon's Cyropedia. And* with 
only this exceeding lame preparation, I was to 
enter the Sophomore class. It was little better than 
preposterous ; and yet so did I rely on my teacher's 
judgment, and so did Dr. Maxcy, the President of 
the college, rely on it, or on his representations of 
me, that w^ith no higher pretensions I actually was 
admitted Sophomore. Dr. Maxcy did indeed tell 
me that my examination had not been satisfactory, 
and did not justify my admission, and that he would 
prefer to have me enter college as Freshman. 
But I was out for Sophomore ; and Sophomore it 
was, sadly to my cost. For to say nothing of 
geometry, and other studies, in which my class- 
mates were ahead of me; and even overlooking 
my deficiency in Latin, of which I knew little 
more than barely to turn it into English, what pos- 
sibly might I do with the Greek ? Homer was the 
text-book, when I knew not much of the grammar 
of the language ; and that little only as it was 



48 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERS. 

required for St. John and Xenophon ; and when 
I had not the remotest idea of the change of form 
wrought by the dialects in the language of Homer; 
and the class having read the book once, and some 
of them twice through, a hundred lines were given 
us for a lesson; and when, above all, I was so 
proud of heart as to be fully determined to hide 
if possible my ignorance, and ask instruction of 
no one. The very difficulties in my way were hid- 
den from me, so that it sometimes cost me an hour's 
diligent search to find the indicative present of a 
single verb, changed, I knew not how, nor from 
what, by some unknown dialect. Pride is always 
folly, and in this instance it was madness. But I 
reasoned thus: Though I cannot get the present 
lesson, yet the getting of what I can will contri- 
bute something towards the next, and that towards 
the next, until I shall have got able to accomplish 
all that is required of me. But the madness of 
my folly was the obstinacy with which I exacted 
of myself, in such circumstances, the labor of 
plodding through my task, if at all, without assist- 
ance. This I would not have, because I could not 
get it without a betrayal of my ignorance. My 
whole time, and much more than my whole time, 
was therefore devoted to study; which I relaxed 
not for any fatigue from the hour of three o'clock 
in the morning to eleven at night — allowing my- 
self but four hours in bed, and not a moment for 
any recreation. At three in the morning I sat 
down to Homer, Schrevelius, and the Greek gram- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 49 

mar, till prayers at six; after which came the 
dreaded recitation. My other studies employed 
me till five P. M., bating only meals and recita- 
tions. At five o'clock prayers and supper inter- 
rupted me ; and then till eleven, when I went to 
bed, I resumed the heartless task of Homer and his 
dialects. Twenty hours out of twenty-four spent 
in this manner soon worked mischief to my nerves. 
The little time I was in bed, I could not sleep for 
nightmare; I grew pale and tremulous, had in- 
cessant headache, and should probably have driven 
myself to death, but for an incident which brought 
my great and good friend, Dr. Maxcy, to my rescue. 
I told him all, and his noble nature seemed to yearn 
over me. I must desist from study ; return home 
for the summer ; (it was then May, 1806 ;) and re- 
turning in November, join the class which he at 
first recommended for me. I felt both the wisdom 
of his advice and the goodness which dictated it, 
and acted accordingly. But extreme was the mor- 
tification I experienced in having to abandon the 
achievement I had undertaken of equalling my 
superiors, and give up the struggle for a standing 
in the class of which Harper, Evans, Miller, Reed, 
and others like them, were members. 

I purpose in these recollections to give you what 
I remember of myself faithfully, though some 
things, and especially at this period, may not now 
have my approval. It was early summer in 1806. 
1 was at home; at the place called Woodland, late- 
ly purchased for a residence, on the Hills above 
4 



60 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERS. 

Statesburg. And interdicted close study, I was to 
recover strength and spirits by free exercise of any 
kind. And a scheme struck me for improving this 
time towards my advancement in future life. Sum- 
ter District then, as now, was divided into two elec- 
tion districts, Cleremont and Clarendon. Clere- 
mont was mine : of which the population for the 
most part belonged to Salem and Black river, and 
were at that period averse from the people of the 
Hills, as being too aristocratic. At Bradford's 
Springs, I would have been on the stronger side, 
but our present residence put me in the minority 
portion of the district; and the scheme referred to 
was for the purpose of overcoming this disadvan- 
tage. For already T was looking with downright 
ambition (perhaps I should say vanity) to enter 
the Legislature as soon as I should be of age ; and 
if I might accomplish this^ I would deem it an 
equivalent for being retarded in my progress 
through college. My plan was this : There was a 
popular academy kept at that time on Black river 
by a brother of my late preceptor ; and while I had 
reason to believe that I was favorably known to 
him, many of his larger pupils had become ac- 
quainted with me during my visits to my uncle, 
and attending church in that quarter. Now, then, 
I proposed to visit this academy, and to make 
friends of those youngsters, and of their friends 
through them. I would propose instituting a de- 
bating society, to meet once a month, or oftener, 
with honorary meml)ers of the men of influence in 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 51 

that quarter ; taking care to provide for an oration 
on the 4th of July by one of the members. It was 
successfully managed. An election to the presi- 
dency of the society was declined, for the alleged 
reason that the office ought to be held in connec- 
tion with the school, and I was rather young to be 
a president ; but more, in fact, because I preferred 
figuring as a debater, and deemed it politic to ap- 
pear deferential. But no modesty of youth, or 
deference to older boys, was suflfered to prevent my 
acceptance of the appointment as orator for the 4th 
of July, which I would endeavor to sustain to the 
best of my poor abilities, and hoping for all due 
allowance for my youth. I know not how long the 
society lasted ; but I know that I counted that 4th 
of July for a day. The oration was long enough, 
and sufficiently spiced with youthful patriotism, 
the Black river boys, the pride of the country, and 
all that. And besides having the whole country 
around to hear me, there was a great dinner; and 
at the dinner just such a sort of toast as it tickled 
my vanity to hear. 

Another story of very different import, and yet 
somewhat connected in its origin with the preced- 
ing, belongs to this summer of 1806. Towards the 
latter end of the summer, a camp-meeting was held 
in liembert's settlement, where the people were 
mostly Methodists; and my uncle and family at- 
tending it, made it convenient for me also to attend. 
Of course this would be agreeable ; for although I 
was not prepared to use it for the proper spiritual 



52 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

purposes of such a meeting, and yet had too high 
a spnse of propriety to go to such a place for the 
purpose of electioneering, still, as my youth must 
protect me from any imputation of bad motives, it 
might be well enough to go just as a friend among 
friends, and to make more friends. Of this camp- 
meeting my recollections are about as distinct as 
of most I have attended of later years. The num- 
ber of people occupying tents was much greater 
than it had been at two previous meetings of the 
same kind, in 1802 and 1803, in that neighborhood ; 
both of which I had attended with my uncle's fami- 
ly, and at which wagons and awnings made of 
coverlets and blankets were mostly relied on, in 
place of tents. The tents too, (of this meeting in 
1806,) though much smaller and less commodious 
than in later years, were larger and better than at 
the former meetings. But still, at the tents as well 
as at the wagons of the camp, there was very little 
cooking done, but every one fed on cold provisions, 
or at least cold meats. Compared to those first 
two camp-meetings, this one differed also in the 
more important respects of management and the 
phases of the work of God. At the first one, 
(1802,) particularly, (which was held on McGirt's 
branch, below the point where the Statesburg and 
Darlington road crosses it,) I recollect little that 
looked like management. There were two stands 
for preaching, at a distance of about two hundred 
jrards apart; and sometimes there was preaching at 
one. sometimes at the other, and sometimes at both 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 58 

mmnltaneouslj. This was evidently a bad arrange* 
ment; fori remember seeing the people running 
hastily from one place to the other, as some sudden 
gush of feeling venting itself aloud, and perhaps 
with strange bodily exercises, called their attention 
off. As to the times of preaching, I think there 
were not any stated hours, but it was left to cir- 
cumstances; sometimes oftener, sometimes more 
seldom. The whole camp was called up, by blow- 
ing a horn, at the break of day ; before sunrise it 
was blown again; and I doubt if after that there 
were any regular hours for the services of the 
meeting. But what was most remarkable both at 
this camp-meeting and the following one, a year 
afterwards, (1803,) as distinguishing them from the 
present meeting of 1806, and much more from later 
camp-meetings, was the strange and unaccountable 
bodily exercises which prevailed there. In some 
instances, persons who were not before known to 
be at all religious, or under any particular concern 
about it, would suddenly fall to the ground, and 
become strangely convulsed with what was called 
the jerks; the head and neck, and sometimes the 
body also, moving backwards and forwards with 
spasmodic violence, and so rapidly that the plaited 
hair of a woman's head might be heard to crack. 
This exercise was not peculiar to feeble persons, 
nor to either sex, but, on the contrary, was most 
frequent to the strong and athletic, whether man 
or woman. I never knew it among children, nor 



54 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

very old persons. In other cases, persons falling 
down would appear senseless, and almost lifeless, 
for hours together; lying motionless at full length 
on the ground, and almost as pale as corpses. And 
then there was the jumping exercise, which some- 
times approximated dancing; in which several 
persons might be seen standing perfectly erect, and 
springing upward without seeming to bend a joint 
of their bodies. Such exercises were scarcely, if at 
all, present among the same people at the camp- 
meeting of 1806. And yet this camp-meeting was 
not less remarkable than the former ones, and very 
much more so than any I have attended in later 
years, for the suddenness with which sinners of 
every description were awakened, and the over- 
whelming force of their convictions ; bearing them 
instantly down to their knees, if not to the ground, 
crying for mercy. At this meeting I became clear- 
ly convinced that there was an actual, veritable 
power of God*s grace in persons then before me, 
and who were known to me, by which they were 
brought to repentance and a new life; and that 
with respect to the latter, (a state of regeneration 
and grace,) the evidence of their possessing it was 
as full and satisfactory as it was that they had been 
brought to feel the guilt and condemnation of their 
sins. I did not fall at any time, as I saw others do ; 
but with the conviction clear to my apprehension 
as to what was the true character of the work be- 
fore me, that it was of God, while I feared greatly, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 55 

I could not but desire that I might become a par- 
taker of the benefit. Still I kept myself aloof, I 
knew not why. 

The meeting over, I stopped for a day or two at 
my uncle's. The day that I left it, as I dwelt on 
its scenes, with the sounds belonging to those scenes 
still lingering on my ear, and my spirit confidently 
approving, I felt a lively satisfaction in the contem- 
plation of what appeared to me to be the greatest 
possible discovery, which was, that a sinner could 
be forgiven his sins ; could be reconciled to God ; 
could have peace with God, witnessed by the Holy 
Spirit, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet 
I was conscious of no painful conviction of sin ; no 
working of a godly sorrow ; no extraordinary sense 
of guilt; no action of repentance. Indeed, my feel- 
ings seemed absorbed in this sense of satisfaction 
that beyond all doubt I had learned so great a les- 
son. For though I had not experienced it in my 
own soul, I was satisfied of the verity of it by the 
consent of my consciousness as to what I had wit- 
nessed in others ; something which I myself had 
also felt serving to demonstrate the truth of the 
whole, as piece and part of that whole. But as I 
was going to bed that night, I found myself strong- 
ly arrested with the thought of my responsibility for 
the use I should make of the light afforded me. 
Ought I not instantly to pray? I was a sinner, and 
repentance and forgiveness of sins was offered 
me. Must it not turn fearfully to my condemnation 
If T did not forthwith seek it ? I fell on my knees 



56 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

and continued all night in prayer to God. Returning 
home, I occupied myself, for several weeks, with noth- 
ing else but devotion. My whole time was giv^n to 
reading the Scriptures, meditation, and prayer. And 
yet while I never distrusted the certainty of the 
great truths just stated, and although my purpose 
to pursue after them knew no abatement, there was 
no one point of time at which I was enabled to re- 
alize their fulfilment in my own case, so as to be 
assured that I myself had passed from death to life 
by the blood of Josus. I still felt, at the best, that 
I was but a servant, not a son. Thus it was with 
me when, on one of my fast-days, having taken my 
Bible with me into the woods with a purpose of 
spending the day there in devotion, and having 
continued a long time on my knees, I became so 
much exhausted as to fall asleep. I cannot describe 
— it can scarcely be imagined — in what terror I 
awoke. Asleep at prayer! Fasting and praying 
with the Bible open before me, and asleep ! I seemed 
to myself a monster of profanity, who had mocked 
God to his face, and must surely have committed 
the unpardonable sin. What was I to do ? And 
there appeared nothing, nothing ! And I was ready 
to condemn myself as a trifler from the beginning, 
whose want of reverence had thus betrayed itself in 
what seemed to be the most presumptuous form of 
sinning. Alas for me, a darkness as of death 
shrouded my spirit ; and how I might penetrate it, 
I knew not. 

The Hills in the neighborhood of Statesburg fur- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 57 

iiish beautiful seats for residence ; and in my youth, 
and more recently, (if not at the present time,) there 
was no part of South Carolina more remarkable 
than that neighborhood for elegance and fashion. 
At the time of our date, (1806,) we had within a 
compass of a few miles, Judge Waties, the May- 
rants, General and Colonel Sumter, Mr. (afterwards 
«Judge) Richardson, Dr. Brown field, and others, who 
were permanent residents, besides still others of the 
elite of the low country, who passed their summers 
there. Balls were frequent; and the season for 
them was just commencing at the time of the un- 
happy incident just mentioned. And as if the 
malice and subtlety of my mortal foe had been con- 
centrated on that fatal hour, there met me, as I 
returned to the house from that melancholy scene 
of the wood, a well-known card, " To tea, and spend 
THE EVENING.'* It was an invitation to a ball. The 
bare coincidence of such an invitation at such a 
moment seemed to tell me that I was doomed, and 
there was nothing better left for me. But could I 
so suddenly give up all hope of the better things 
I had been seeking ? Was it impossible for me to 
become a spiritual Christian ? And was tlie world 
my only heritage ; and must I return to it in de- 
spair of ever inheriting the better world above? 
Wliat an hour was that ! First, there was the incu- 
bus of an undefined condemnation for the monstros- 
ity of falling asleep on my knees. Then, I was 
not a Methodist ; and now, probably, never could 
be. My religious feelings had been known to no 



58 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

one out of my immediate faijiily ; and in the pro- 
sent state of things had better not become known, 
as I could not hope to be a Christian. True, I could 
no longer find any enjoyment in the pleasures of 
the gay world; but situated as I was, it would be 
useless to give offence, and break with my formei 
associates. 

Surely no one ever went to meet associates in a 
ballroom in so sad a mood. I was going to a ball 
as to an antechamber of the pit below ; and yet I 
^as going. I felt a loathing of it, as of a cup 
which had intoxicated me in time past, but which 
was now presented with its wine turned into gall, 
and yet I was going to taste of that loathsome cup. 
On the way I would have turned back and gone 
home ; but no, the invitation had been accepted, 
and must be complied with. If I did not go, what 
should I answer when I might be asked for the 
reason of it ? And might it not even serve as a 
rebuke of dancing for me to go and then decline 
dancing, of which I had been known to be exceed- 
ing fond? But enough of this unpleasant story. 
I went. And having gone, I danced. The hour 
was late when I got home and to bed — to bed 
without prayer! But the flurry of my spirits and 
bodily fatigue, after such a day and so much of 
such a night, made it easier for me to go to bed 
without prayer than I was to find it in the morning 
to go away from my bed without praj^er. Then I 
was calm and recollected ; and may God save you 
from ever suflfering any thing like the sinking of 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 59 

heart, and that hopelessness with which, that morn - 
ing, I left that bedside without daring so much as 
to bow my knees. I felt as one wandering along 
some dark labyrinthian way, who had been given 
a light and had extinguished it. First, the scene 
of the wood the day before, and then the ball at 
night, and my light was out. No mitigating cir- 
cumstances could avail to comfort me, and I gave 
up all for lost. 

But there was one thing which I could not be 
tempted to give up. It was graven as with the 
point of a diamond on the tablet of my heart, and 
planted as with the finger of God deep and abiding 
in the consciousness of my nature. I would never 
give up the recollection of the past few weeks. • 
And that recollection, mournful as it was, proved 
invaluable to me. It fixed and riveted in my 
mind a conviction of the truth of the gospel and 
spiritual religion so firmly, that no plausibility of 
infidel reasoning could ever afterwards shake it. 
And when, (as you shall see,) after so long a time, 
the phantasm of the unpardonable iniquity of the 
incident just recited had been dispelled, and I was 
again to be found calling upon God, no temptation 
ever prevailed to beat me oft' from the sinner's 
only hope, the cross of Christ and prayer. 

In the winter I returned to college, fully equal 
to my studies as they then were, and in no great 
danger of excessive diligence. Still, I had a pride 
of associating with those whom I had so vainly 
striven to overtake, and to rank above my years in 



60 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERH. 

the society hall if I might not in the class-FOom, 
Among the seniors of that year (1807) were Wil- 
liam T. Brantly, the late lamented President of the 
college at Charleston, John Murphy, late Governor 
of the State of Alabama, and James Gregg, who 
has been for many years an honor to the bar of 
South Carolina, and one of her ablest senators. 
Of the juniors I have already mentioned William 
Harper, since Chancellor and a senator of the 
United States, Josiah J. Evans, one of the judges 
of South Carolina, Stephen D. Miller, late Governor 
of that State, and others. To my own class, as it 
now was, belonged William J. Grayson, since col- 
lector of the port of Charleston, Col. Wade Hamp- 
ton, and others, who, if not as eminently distin- 
guished in after-life, were nevertheless worthy. 

Mr. Brantly was already a preacher, and Mr. 
Murphy and Mr. Gregg were patterns of pure 
morals and gentlemanly bearing. To these gentle- 
men I owed the kindest obligations, and it was 
probably owing, in a great measure, to their influ- 
ence over me, that my indiscretions this year, what- 
ever they may have been, partook not of the na- 
ture of gross immorality. But there was another 
influence which kept me, without the intervention 
of means of any kind, from a still more dangerous 
exposure. This exposure was the prevalence oi 
Deism, against which I carried in myself an evi- 
dence too strong and conchisive to admit for a 
moment its half-reasoning unbelief. I had proved 
Christianity to be true in a way that Deism could 



AUTOBTOORAPHY. 61 

aot reach ; and as well might it have been under- 
taken to reason away from me my consciousness of 
being, as my conviction of its truth. This might 
be called (as it often was called) superstition, in- 
fatuation, or what not, but it made no difference to 
me, my consciousness was still victor, and I gloried 
in the truth of Christianity. "Gentlemen,'* 1 
would say, (when pressed to read Tom Paine, or 
Hume, or any other such author,) "gentlemen, I 
am as you are ; I am not a Christian, but a sinner; 
but sinner as I am, I dare not seek to evade respon- 
sibility by denying what I know to be truth. I 
know in myself that I am a sinner, and I know in 
the siame manner that the Bible is the word of God, 
and Jesus Christ is his Son. Call not him by vile 
epithets whom I know to be the Son of God as 
certainly as I know that the light shines or the 
wind blows. Unbelief may make us worse, but 
can make us no better.*' But I was a paradox to 
myself. Naturally gay and vivacious, I engaged 
freely in the pastimes of the hours for recreation ; 
and in company with those of like dispositions 
seemed as happy as the rest. But behind all this 
there slumbered a feeling of remorse, which would 
sometimes be aroused into a loathing of myself, 
and extreme sadness — a secret wound, hidden from 
the light of day, which the solitude of night re- 
vealed as a running sore. Yes, I might be merry 
in the day, when the night was to be dark witli 
self-reproach. Alas, what is light without love? 
This was the consciousness which made me argue 



62 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPBRS. 

for the Christian faith, while it had no power to 
make me a Christian. It seemed impossible foi 
me to maintain the watchfulness proper to a serious 
self-restraint when all was gay about me; and 
equally so for me to pass the night without calling 
painfully to mind my sinful wanderings from God. 
And yet I was restrained from grosser immorali- 
ties. Why not more, may be told in a word : I did 
not pray. Solitude at night shut me up to the con- 
templation of a scene in which the incidents of the 
previous summer seemed pencilled before me : how 
I had had the truth of spiritual religion demon- 
strated to me ; had been graciously drawn to seek 
it ; and had (as still it appeared to me) profanely 
cast it all away. But it was that last spectacle ot 
the scene which held me back as by a spell from 
prayer, though I would have given any thing to feel 
myself at liberty to pray. And so fully had this 
spectral idea got possession of my mind, that I was 
shut out from prayer, that I seemed incapable of so 
much as even to call it in question. 

You will wonder, perhaps, at my dwelling so 
long on this unwelcome theme, but I cannot dis- 
miss it hastily, for I deem it to have been of no 
little consequence. I mean not that it was benefi- 
cial for me to have fallen asleep at prayer, nor to 
have fallen under the tormenting misconceptions 
of the character of that act, which prevented me 
from attempting to pray afterwards, and in despair 
of becoming a Christian induced my return to 
former associations. And much less do I mean 



AUTOBIOaRAPHT. 68 

Qiat it was well for me to have gone to the ball 
that night, and to continue in habits of pleasurable 
amusement, and to live after the gay and giddy 
manner that I did, against my conscience, awak« 
ened as it had been to the discovery of spiritual 
truth. Nothing of the sort. But I mean that 
my wretchedness taught me understanding; and 
although I had not the knowledge which should 
have inspired courage to pray, I saw an infinite 
value in the privilege of access to God through the 
great Mediator ; and by as much as I was hopeless 
of any good without it, and felt that the pleasures 
of sin were but apples of Sodom, by so much was 
I still held to the belief of spiritual truth as demon- 
strated in my present consciousness no loss than in 
my former better experience. The present com- 
pared to the past involved a sense of destitution, 
not only implying a consciousness of want, but 
that the thing wanted had been possessed. A 
smoking wick compared to the lighted candle 
might be its emblem. And the thing wanted was 
that influence of the all-quickening Spirit which 
should renew the flame. To be a sinner under 
condemnation for his sins, but calling upon God in 
expectation of forgiveness through the blood of 
the cross, seemed a hopeful and desirable condition 
in comparison to mine, in which the great pain and 
plague was that I feared to pray, deeming it pre- 
sumptuous for me to do so, and therefore not at- 
tempting it. Such a hag may a mistaken coil' 
science be. 



64 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

But why did I not correct my error by the Scrip- 
tures ? Ah, why did I not ! Why, unhappily, be- 
cause, having left oft' to pray, I had left off also the 
reading of the Scriptures, as not being likely to 
profit me without prayer; whereas, if I had 
searched the Scriptures with proper care, it would 
probably have been blessed both to the correction 
of my error, and my recovery from this snare of 
the devil. It was not long before I came to the 
conclusion that I could not get better as things 
were ; and that the only hope for me was in some 
such extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit as 
that which moved me so mightily on the evening 
after the camp-meeting; which only could assure 
me that I might pray with acceptance, and, with 
the encouragement to pray, enable me to live as 
a Christian ought ; and that until I should be 
thus favored, if ever, it was needless for me to 
afllict myself for what I could not help ; but that 
I would keep myself from any thing grossly im- 
moral, and maintain steadfastly my belief in the 
truth of Christianity, if haply the needful visita- 
tion might be afforded me : another hurtful error. 
With regard to matters of the college, things went 
with me in the usual way, and I went with them 
after the same manner. There was nothing worthy 
of remark. The vacation was spent at home ; 
(Woodland, on the Hills, in Sumter District;) and 
of this also I have little to say. Its incidents were 
not remarkable. Usually my mornings were occu- 
pied with some sort of reading, and my evenings 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 65 

with the ladies ; of whom there were not a few in 
our neighborhood, nor a few belles among them. 
Once or twice a week I spent a day with my 
brother Gabriel at the plantation; but I was not 
fond of hunting deer or of fishing ; and a week at a 
time might be spent on a visit to my excellent 
brother and sister Guerry, and my much-loved 
uncle, who still seemed a sort of second father to 
me. But there was one circumstance which per- 
haps [ should advert to, as it had some influence 
subsequently on my conduct. My worthy brother- 
in-law was very sick, and was so for a long time, 
30 that his life was thought to be in danger; and 
this sickness was made the means of his awaken- 
ing and conversion. I was much with him to- 
wards the latter part of the vacation ; and if I 
could have had any misgivings before as to the 
truth of a spiritual religion, they must have been 
dissipated by what I saw in him. I said his sick- 
ness was the means of his conversion, not meaning 
that he was already converted in an evangelical 
sense of that word, but that he was awakened, and 
it led to his conversion. He conversed freely with 
me, as I also did with him ; and in one of these 
conversations, speaking of my feelings a year be- 
fore, he expressed the opinion that if I had joined 
the Church I would not have suflfered the loss 
which I was then deploring. I had long been 
of the same opinion, and expressed, in reply to what 
he said, a settled purpose to do so whenever I 
should feel again as I had then felt the quickening 



66 LIFE OF WILI.IAM CAFSES. 

power of the Holy Spirit. I mention this heE% -- 
tm I nhall have occasion to adrert to it hereafter. 

Xotwith«tanding this year (1807) was barren of 
incidents of any note, its secret history was strwigly 
influential on my future course of life. It began^ 
as the last had closed^ with intense agitation : the 
buoyancy of young life bearisg me away with my 
associates to an extreme of levity by- day, and my 
tronbled conscience lashing meas with ^whips of 
fire by night. It had passed to its seventh month, ^ 
with only the change of a sort of compromise: with , 
conscience ; by which I should allow myself just . 
any* thing that circumstances made coni^enient,< . 
Hhort of gross immorality^ and a disbelief, of the 
Hcriptures and. spiritual reli^on ; and I was, .more* < 
over, to> be ev'er forward to- avow and< defetid the 
truth of Qod's word; which lastitem.in the^truoe- 
with conscience cost me. some little tre^uble.. But 
during the vacation, I was not only withdrawn « 
from thenstrife -of tongues, but. also from ..thein 
cxcitemont of college . recreations.. My recreations y 
now wore of a difterent sort. Indeed,. I took none, 
and desired none, except the evronings. in female - 
Hocietyi This was not exciting, but soothing y, not » 
a whirligig* of giddy '-passions,* but .a refining,/ 
elevating entertainments ( Such, out of the bail»n 
**oom, I had always found female? society to .be ;l , 
for, thank 'God^ I never associated withtan5' ivhom ^v 
I did: not h(hior as ladies indeed* In^a wordy theQ,'V 
my mind was becoming more; settled-i-less frrrol- • 
\xw,< and • losi delponding ; and^ though^ ^I had* no^«.« 



AUT'OBIOGRAPiHYi. 67Ju 

courage, to 1 betake- myself to prayer or avow a re*-.*^ 
ligious life, the hoped-fbr visitation whi6b should.' 
give jne confidence began to be looked to not only • 
as deeirable. but very possible; and the resolution 
was fully formed which should make such a visita- ' 
tion the occasion of an instant public avowal 4>n my ^ 
part, by joining the Church. 

In this state of mind my return to college in 
October was^not anticipated with pl^sure, but 
rather as an undesirable necessity. There was an-* 
other consideration also which began to gain some 
importance with me. My profession was fixed fi^r 
the law; and at that time the statute required three 
years* study with a lawyer, in order to admission at 
the bar. I was ambitious of attaining to thia poei^ 
tion at the earliest allowable age ; and the securing. . 
of it would not admit of my continuing in college 
to the time of graduation. Perhaps it was unfor- . 
tunate for me that, with a sanguine temperament 
which might incline me to overreach myself in any • 
circumstances, I had grown up rapidly »in* the- 
last five years, and was already at my fulLheight^« 
five feet, eight and a half inches* Nor can I dei>y» ^ 
that I was ambitious, and. that « my vanity was tat »- 
least equ^.to my understanding. I had frequ^nt 
conversations, with my.father. as .to? the prppa^iety'/ 
of 'gi]i?ing up. my text-books..at. college, in»favo^of . 
Blaekstene; in which I undervalued tha^tudicfitof ■■* 
the,«eB4or. year, as being mainly a review ' of Mthc, 
pr^eeding, ^and- was inclined .to. the » ©pinion tha^^f 
after the middle of my next term,J[ had. ^beMievv 



68 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

commence the study of law. My father was re- 
luctant, and preferred that I should graduate, but 
waived a decision for the present time. 

I should deem it most unfortunate that I had 
gotten this kink into my head about leaving col- 
lege and commencing the study of law, were it 
not for the state of my mind with respect to 
religion. In view only of the present life aud dis- 
tinction at the bar, it was a great error ; for so far 
from its being true that any portion of a college 
course might be dispensed with by one seeking a 
pi'ofession, it is to be regretted that this so fre- 
quent haste of the boys to become men before the 
time, should find the allowance which it does in 
the present too brief course of studies, which had 
better be extended. But in view of the whole case 
from the present point of time, with the lights of 
experience to guide me, I believe that this also 
was of God. My situation in college was, to say 
the least, very trying, and I felt it to be so. That 
compromise still appeared to be the best in my 
power there; and I was any thing but what I 
would choose to be in the midst of my associates, 
not a few of whom mocked at religion as a super- 
stition, though in other respects they were high- 
minded, estimable young men. It was a hazardous 
experiment to be intimate with them in all their 
pastimes, on the principle of maintaining that 
one might be as gay and believe the Bible as he 
could be in the disbelief of it ; and my nature was 
social^ to a fault. 



Autobiography. 69 

But the vacation over, I returned to college, and 
resumed my studies with considerable spirit; which 
was not diminished by the growing purpose I in- 
dulged of making that my last term. In other 
respects, I know not that any thing transpired 
worthy of remark. 

Early the next year, (1808,) my father having 
yielded his consent, I took a final leave of the 
college, and entered myself a student at law in the 
office of that estimable man and eminent jurist, 
Mr. John S, Richardson ; afterwards, for a long 
course of years, a judge of the courts of law of 
South Carolina. Mr. Richardson's office was in 
Statesburg; and it was agreed that my studies 
should be pursued for the most part at home ; only 
arranging for so much time to be spent in the office 
as might be deemed desirable from time to time. 
Woodland was now home, emphatically, as I lived 
there ; but I was no longer a child. A study was 
built for me at a pleasant spot, and I set zealously 
at work to make myself a lawyer. A horse was 
appropriated to my use, though I seldom rode ex- 
cept to the office, to church on Sundays, and occa- 
sionally to spend an .evening with the ladies, which 
I was always fond to do. And now that phantom, 
the honor that cometh of man only, appeared in 
glory, as a thing ta be worshipped, the chief idol 
of all, whose service should be honored with a high 
reward. What a mistake ! And how common it 
is with other ardent young men, who no more sus- 
pect it than I myself did. Those succeed in the 



*'*70 LIFB 0^ WlLLOtAM CAPBRS. 

-racfe for distinction who are in. love with tto. means 
*' of 'success-^the mastery of their profession j; and 
•'not those who, too eager of the- goal, ./have> not 
• -patience to approach it step by. step. . I was not, 
•♦after all, in love with the few, but enamored: only 
of the charms of a fancied glorification to be 
♦ 'obtained as a lawyer. The law itself was mere 
• ' labor — 'dry, plodding study ; and that I did not love 
it for its own sake, an anecdote ;of the early 
' summer will suffice to show. General Sumter had 
just returned home from Congress, when I was one 
day surprised by an invitation to dine with him; 
'* with the words written at the bottom of the note, 
' "None but gentlemen are invited." Arriving at 
'.hia mansion, I found the interpretation of these 
enigmatic words, in the fact that the company con- 
- sisted of some twenty bachelors, of whoni I was 
*' the youngest. And as soon as the cloth was re- 
moved, atid Mrs. Sumter had withdrawn, the object 
of this unusual collection of young men to dine 
' with the old veteran was made known in a long 
tiddress^ in which he told us all about our difficult 
•'ties with England; the certainty. of a war, and 
• -of its being a long one ; the occasion it musrtjjfur- 
r'nish for glorious deeds <and immortal hooor; the 
"•great 'advantages for promotion to those who took 
' 'bfficein that first enlistment which Congress had 
-Ordered; and that he wasiauthoriaed -^by^the Pre- 
*'sident to promise commissions to any of«u8.thoD 
present; whose fortune8"mustv»be.in:ade'.by accept- 
ing them. And what "Wad* become oifimyilovero^' 



. AUTOBIOGRAPHY. ,71 

•"f^th^^law whe» we rose from that table? - My idol 
>'«was i^ratksferred; ta • another temple, a^d not as a 
' lawyer, bu4 a chivalrous soldier, rising rapidly to 
. eminence { and feme, was I to seek my destiny. 
'.'But how were my young wings clipped^ and my 
? fancied certainty of a noble elevation by deeds to 
•^ deserve it brought to the ground! * My father 
' would not hear to it; and when I expressed sur- 
prise,* and alluded to his own services, in the Re- 
' volutionary war as justifying, the step Is proposed, 
he really seemed almost angry. " What !" said he, 
^'^^did I ever fight for -myself? 'Was it not for the 
' = liberties of my country ? But you would fight for 
pay, aiid ta> make yourself a name.' Our liberties 
are not in danger^ atid the government' is strong 
enoiigh to take care of' itself And so I had 
to* smooth down my feathers, and return to Black- 
stone. 

Early in July of this year (1808) there was another 
camp-meeting in Rembert's settlement. But I did 
tiot attend itj having an engagement of business 
for my father in ' Georgetown at the time of its 
' ^ being held. • My brother-in-law,' Major Guerry, and 
my sister attended it, and with the happiest eonse- 
' quenees. I have mentiotfed his illness the previous 
. autumn, and that it had been blessed to the awaken- 
ing of both 'of them to a deep concern for th^ir 
" fealvation. They had now joined the Church, and 
'at this camp^meeting were converted. On my re- 
turn home it affected me to hear it; and I was 
'*- nifeditating a visit to them, whett they eame -to see 



72 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

US. I used to admire my brother-in-law for a bear- 
ing of personal dignity which distinguished him 
above other well-bred men of my acquaintance, 
and which, together with his being a very large 
man, rendered his presence peculiarly imposing. 
He was unexceptionably kind and amiable, but his 
look would inspire reverence more than love ; it 
was rather austere than gentle. So I had been 
accustomed to see him. But there now stood 
before me that same noble form, with a countenance 
as soft as love itself, and a bearing that might seem 
the very expression of meekness. Several times 
during the afternoon and early evening I saw a tear 
in the eye which I had not thought capable of a 
tear, and a suffusion on the cheek which might not 
have been suspected of any thing so tender. As 
to my sister, her dear bright eyes would laugh in 
tears, and she seemed the happiest of mortals. 
And for myself, I had in me the interpretation of 
it all. Here was the religion of the Spirit of grace, 
which I had contemplated before in faces as truth- 
ful, but not so dear to me as those of the present 
witnesses. How poor might the world be to pur- 
chase it ! What should the world be to mortal 
man in comparison to it ? This it was which more 
than twenty months before I had been so earnestly 
seeking, the consciousness of which had preserved 
me since from Deism ; but which, whether or not I 
might ever hope to obtain it, was, alas, how fear- 
fully uncertain ! 

It grew night; supper was over; it was warm, 



AtIl:OBIOGRAPnY. TS 

and we were sitting in a piazza open to the south- 
west breeze which fans our summer evenings. My 
sister was singing with a soft, clear voice some of 
the songs of the camp-meeting ; and as she paused, 
my father touched my shoulder with his hand and 
slowly walked away. I followed him till he had 
reached the farthest end of the piazza on another 
side of the house, when turning to me he expressed 
himself in a few brief words, to the eftect that he 
felt himself to have been for a long time in a back- 
slidden state, and that he must forthwith acknow- 
ledge the grace of God in bis children, or perish. 
His words were few, but they were enough, and 
strong enough. I sank to my knees and burst into 
tears at the utterance of them, while for a moment 
he stood trembling by me, and then bade me get 
the books. The Bible was put on the table ; the 
family came together; he read the 103d Psalm, 
and then he kneeled down and prayed as if he felt 
indeed that life or death, heaven or hell, depended 
on the issue. That was the hour of grace and 
mercy — grace restored to my father as in times of 
my infancy, and mercy to me in breaking the snare 
of the fowler that my soul might escape. That 
most truly solemn and overwhelming service of the 
family over, I took occasion to remind my brother- 
in-law of our conversation the year before, when I 
had expressed a purpose of joining the Church 
without delay if ever I should be favored to feel 
again as I had formerly felt. This great visitation 
I was now conscious had been granted me, and I 



'74 LIFE .OF WILLIAM C A FEES. 

I. iwistied under the inflmeiice of it to bind myself to 

'1. the. fulfilment of that purpose, which I. promised to 

' do the next time the circuit-preacher came to Rem- 

bert's meeting-house. 

I did not consider my feelings on this occasion 

: >to imply conversion, any more than those of the 

. night after the camp^meeting in 1806. My fiaith 

V ^embraced not so much. But I knew them to-be 

iiifrom God^ as I bad. known it om that former ooca- 

• sion^ and this alone was half a world to me. I 
'\ wient to- bed, and bowed my knees to the God and 

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with a heart suf- 
fused with adoring gratitude. The next morning, 

' as I awoke Calm and refreshed from sleep, it was 
suggested to my mind that I may have beeii hasty 

« in the promise I had made. What if I should not 
find those strong emotions under which I made it 
renewed again? What if possibly all that had 
transpired should prove to be a mere matter of 

' sympathy^ and not of God at all ? I trembled at 
the bare suggestion^ but a moment on my knees 
taught me whence it came, and reassured my eon- 
fidence. ' God had visited me indeed. The flinty 

• rock had been smitten, and gave forth water ; and 
' I, even I, had access to a throne of mercy for- the 

Redeemer's sake. Blackstone was Idid aside, and 

' the Bible became again my one book. ^ And now 

I longed with intense desire for the time to arrive 

•when, by joining the Church, I should formally 

I brtefc with the world, and -identify- myself- with 

» 'those '»who, (at least then-, and in= that part ' of the 



. AUTOBIO^EA^HY. '^'76 

vMeountry,)fQr being.the most spiiritual and k&st world- 

1 ly, were regarded the most, enthusiltstic and least 

rational of all the sects of Christians. * My great.want 

* was to know- God as they knew him, in. the for- 

: igiveness of sins, and to serve him as they served him, 

< not. as servants only, but as sons, having.the>8pirit 

.»! of adoption, crying^ Abba, Father. (Rom. viii, 15.) 

;i It.wasione.oft the Sabbath days between. thB^first 

'. . . and middle of the month > of . August that : this 

. event. of my joining the Methodist Church took 

: place. And < to ishow the. unqualified simplicity? and 

I .hearty confidence with which it was done, I will 

give an anecdote, which, of itself, should not seem 

worth relating : . The meeting oveir, I accompanied 

my brother-in-law and sister to the house of i an old 

•Methodist gentleman, (a very prototype of true 

Christian simplicity,) with whom they were to dine 

outheir way home. I was dressed with more than 

usual care: my clothes ini the point of the. fashion, 

with a deep frill of linen cambric and a full-sized 

breastpin, at my bosom; (bad tswte certainly, for 

one's dress should be agreeable to one's company.) 

And as we sat at table, my old? friend said to me : 

"•Well, yo lit. have joined the i Methodists, and now 

' you must lay aside your breastpin and ruffles." 

*.' Why ; should I,, sir?" I asked ; ,<andt ^he only 

, ain&wered, '^If you? don't pull them bfi^, youxmust 

; 'button your waistcoat over tkem and hide^them; 

% you mustn't let the preacher see them." ■ And there 

♦ : ended the colloquy. But it was food for thought. 

*' HHide them !"i He. said. that eva8ivelv;«hejdid aot 



76 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

mean for me to hide them, but that I should take 
them off. But for what possible reason should I 
take them off? And I could think of none. I 
had heard of none, and was profoundly puzzled. 
Still there must be some reason for it ; and what 
could it be ? Why, the reason he had told me. I 
had joined the Methodists, and that was the reason. 
The Methodists did not wear superfluous orna- 
ments, did they ? And I could not call to mind 
one of them who did. Well then, thought I, the 
question is settled. When did I ever change the 
fashion of my dress for any better reason than that 
the fashion had changed, and I must be in the 
fashion ? Henceforth the Methodist fashion shall 
be mine ; and done as I am with the world, I will 
follow the lead of this godly people in every thing. 
Arrived at my brother-in-law's, my first act was to 
rip off the frill from my bosom, which my sister 
kept, as a memorial of those simple-hearted times, 
for many years. 

That day I consider the most eventful of my life — 
the pivot of the rest. In the evening, that most 
godly man and best of ministers, the Rev. William 
Qassaway, favored us with his company, and passed 
the night, (having an appointment for the next day 
at Clark's meeting-house, a few miles below my 
brother-in-law's residence, which we purposed at- 
tending;) and fresh to my heart is the remembrance 
of that evening. After considerable conversation 
and prayer, with myself alone in his chamber, he 
proposed to me to meet him at Camden, some three 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 77 

weeks to come, and accompany him around on his 
circuit. Brother Kennedy, his junior colleague, 
would he with him for part of the round, and he 
thought I would find it both pleasant and profita- 
ble. I thought so too, and gladly accepted his pro- 
posal if my father should have no objection to it. 
The meeting the next day was one to be remem- 
bered ; and what with that, the godly counsel of my 
reverend friend, and the cheering influence of the 
joyful faith of my brother and sister, I felt con- 
firmed in every pious resolution. 

At the time, which I had been eagerly anticipat- 
ing, I was in Camden ; and soon found that there 
was much more in my being there than I had 
dreamed of. What was it, to my apprehension, 
more than a mere journey, which I was to make 
with my reverend friend, for the benefit of his 
guidance in seeking the grace of God, and that I 
might attend the meetings daily ? And not know- 
ing any one in Camden, nor where Mr. Gassaway 
might lodge ; nor even thinking that if I did know, 
it might be proper for me to obtrude myself on 
strangers, I had stopped at the door of a house of 
entertainment, and was just alighting from my 
horse, when our venerated patriarch of Rembert's 
church, and Rembert*s settlement, passing by, ar- 
rested me with, "You mustn't stop here. Haven't 
you come to ride with brother Gassaway ? Go with 
me to brother Smith's." (It was that brother 
Smith whose praise was in all the churches, and 
whose memory is still precious, as one of the purest 



78**t LIFE OP- WILLLiisM fXIAPBRS. 

anidkbest of Methodist preach^exs ;« who many yi^airs^^ 
before hadvinarried a relation of &ther Rembert's, % 
aiid was. now located in Camden.) And right wrllr > 
ingly I went; not understanding, however, why- 
riding with brother Gassaway should confer on mei ' 
such consequence, nor dreaming of any technical 
meaning which '^riding'' with him might have. But' - 
how great was my amazement at the Jiour of family 
prayer that. night, when the books were handed me. 
by brother Smith, and I was asked to have prayers * 
for them. Could it be right ? And could I possibly . 
perform it ? But it struck me that I was not a judge. 
If dt seemed wrong for me to offer prayers for those . 
who were so much wiser^and better than myself , 
that could not make it right for me to seem to know . 
better than they by refusing to do it. So I took the 
books ; though the extreme agitation I was under 
scarcely admitted of' reading, and much less pray-, 
ing* The sanctuary, next day, was refreshing to 
me, ^s/morning, afternoon and evening I heard the - 
go^pel which I beUeveds Monday was spent by my « 
excellent friends Gassaway and Kenoaedy in visiting y 
their flock. They took me with them, and ealled . 
on me several times to pr^iy ;. whi<^ I did with no- 
little perturbation, doubting its propriety. But the < 
nextrday (September 12) taxed my simple subBfti*- ^ 
siveness still more 'Severely* We left£!amdea forv- 
thei^ooiint^y appointmentsi, whiclii began ithis^ day %ato. 
a me^ting-htxude in tberjHne-woods toward Lynche's: < 
crads^ then taUed^^Smitii's^ (afterwards^ MadrahalK s^)?-. * 
aiM»gi.|a ^'erj^.vpoo])^vpeopl$^HS^ BiaDtheJc^eiMuedji^i.:^ 



AVTOBIOGKAPHY. . 79fp 

preached ; wlyle I was deated agianst the walL of • 
th&^hoase remote from the polpit, (not knowiugyet 
the meaning of the phrase . '^ riding with, brother 
Grassaway/' nor dreaming that it had the least oon*> 
nection with any thing official on my pigrt $) aad>the . 
sermon over, he beckoned me to the pqlpi(; It was > 
a sort of coarse box open at one end, and elevated 
a single step above the rest of the. floor. • Brother- • 
Gassaway was sitting in it/ and reaching- ^out his 
hand as I advanced, <s£dd- to me^ ^' Exhorts *•' He said \ 
no more, but, as I seemed to helaitate, repeated the^ 
same word ^^^xhartj" with- a sligh); movement of his 
hand, as if to induce me to come into^ the .pulpit, . 
the^bench of which was suffieieii^tly taken up ]ivith : 
hifnself and his colleague It was probably ^6 first 
tinie I had heard' the word ; > and . -certainly the first > 
of my hearing it as a technieal.word..- "Exhort?** 
thought I. That is from *^exoro** or "exhortor;** 
but what am I to make of it? What would he have >• 
me do? "Exhort,** repeated my reverend- friend,, 
unconscious of using a hard word which might not 
be understood. And at the second. or. third- repetti-i 
tidn of the word, with only the interpretation of a -. 
slight pull of my hand, which Jie-was holding, I 
hit on his meaning) And. dteppipg into the. bois be^^ 
gan to exhort, if I ijnayicaU it so* The word served .. 
me for a text— "earnestly to beseech,** " to pr^v4lilv ^ 
by ,en treaty;*/ and so^ I made^aneffort to -beseeeb ^^ 
the people to ^ believe aadido as they, had bea«r,,. 
taught by the preacher. But that aftcornoon and<>'^ 
eviemagi wa€MiBorf4j^/tro)i}^ .Mf. 



80 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPBR8. 

reverence for holy things was oflfended at my nn- 
worihiness to such a degree that it seemed impos- 
sible for me to be reconciled to myself. True, I 
was not capable of judging for myself in such mat- 
ters, and had acted by the direction of my spiritual 
guides, whose competency I could not question ; 
but then they did not know me as I knew myself, 
and might be misled by excess of charity. "O, 
brother Gassaway," said I, "I am in a wilderness. 
Every thing is dark about me, and I know not what 
to do. Surely I ought not to keep on with you, 
and to go back from you I am afraid.*' " Well, my 
son,** said the dear old gentleman, " God has brought 
you thus far ; lean not to your own understanding, 
but be humble still, and he will guide you through.*' 
To brother Kennedy, whose comparative youth 
made him more familiar, (or at least made me more 
familiar with him,) I expressed myself more at 
length. I was not a preacher ; never to be a preach- 
er ; never could be made a preacher; and how could 
it be right for me to stand up in a pulpit, or any- 
where else, to exhort? That I was not a preacher 
was certain ; but he held that my exhorting did 
not imply that I was one, nor even that I was to 
become one. Every Christian man, and every one 
seeking with an awakened conscience to become a 
Christian, was at liberty to recommend religion to 
others, and ought in duty to do so ; and my ex- 
hortation was no more than the doing of this in a 
formal manner. 
The next day, at the house of an old gentleman 



■^ ••<«.■. fi., .^ 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 81 

by the nam^ of Parrish, on Lynchers creek, I WBfl 
again told to exhort ; and again the day following 
at a meeting-house called Lizzenby's ; and on both 
these occasions I attempted to comply with the re- 
quisition. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we 
attended a Quarterly Meeting, which was conducted 
as a camp-meeting, at Knight's meeting-house, on 
Fork creek. " Work for life, as well as from life,'* 
was now the word ; and while I had no need of 
teaching as to the worthlessness of works of any 
kind for the procurement of grace meritoriously, I 
was taught to look for the witness of adoption in 
denying my will, and taking up my xjross as a means 
which God might bless. And it was not in the 
stand (pulpit) only, nor at stated hours, but wherever 
and as often as occasion served I was exhorting. At 
this meeting I found that unspeakable blessing 
which I had been so earnestly seeking, " the Spirit 
of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father;'* the 
Spirit itself bearing witness with my spirit that I 
was a child of God. A love-feast was held on Sun- 
day morning at 9 o'clock. I had never attended 
one, and happened never to have made any inqui- 
ries about them ; so that going into this one I knew 
not how it was to be conducted, nor of what the 
service should consist. I first found myself strongly 
affected on seeing one and another refused ad- 
mission by the preacher at the door ; a vivid repre- 
sentation being made to my mind of the character 
of the meeting, in which, as I supposed, none but 
approved persons could be present, and others wero 

6 



82 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

rejected. At first I felt as if I too had" no right tc 
be there. It was a meeting for Christians only, 
and without the witness of adoption I could not 
claim that title. Was it partiality, or lack of infor- 
mation, which had let me in while others were ex- 
cluded? I might not hope to be admitted into 
heaven thus, for God himself would be the Judge. 
And what should it avail me to be in the Church, 
and gathered in communion with its members in 
holy services, if at last the door of heaven should 
be shut against me ? But I was not suffered to pur- 
sue this train of thought ; but my mind was sud- 
denly and intensely taken up with an opposite one. 
Was there any thing lacking to me which Christ 
could not give ? Had he not bought me with the 
price of his own blood, which had pledged his will- 
ingness with his power to save ? And why was I 
so long without the witness of adoption, except only 
for my unbelief? Faith that should trust him to 
bestow his grace, would honor him more than the 
unbelief that doubted of his doing so much. All 
this and much more was presented to my mind in 
an instant, and I felt an indescribable yearning after 
faith. Yes, I felt much more : there came with it 
such a prevailing apprehension (or should I not call 
it manifestation ?) of Christ as a present Saviour, my 
'present Saviour^ that to believe seemed to imply no 
effort. I could not but believe. I saw it, as it were, 
and I felt it, and knew it, that Christ was mine, 
that I had received of the Spirit through hina, and 
was become a child of God. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 83 

This gracious change was attended with new 
views as to my calling in life. I could no longer 
say, nor think, that I was never to he a preacher ; 
but, on the contrary, it appeared to me, and the 
conviction grew stronger and stronger, that I was 
called to preach. The round on the circuit was 
made without any more such feelings as those I 
had complained of at the beginning of it ; while 
I was daily concluding meetings for brother Gassa- 
way, and generally with exhortation. At the close 
of the round I returned home for a week, while he 
was visiting his family. My father was satisfied 
that I should follow the course which I now thought 
my duty ; the study of law was abandoned, and my 
law-books returned ; and it was fully arranged for 
me to continue with brother Gassaway as long as 
he thought proper, or should remain on that circuit. 
I was now '* riding*' with him in earnest; exhorting 
almost as often as he preached, and employing the 
time at my command betwe3n services in studying 
the Scriptures. But I might not get on thus smoothly 
without molestation. I think it was during my 
second round that I began to be worried with the 
lameness of my exhortations ; which appeared to 
me insufferably^ weak; and took up an idea that to 
make a preacher at all, I must pursue a different 
course from the one I was engaged in. What ap- 
peared to me desirable, and even necessary for my 
success, was a regular course of divinity studies, 
which I should pursue without interruption for 
several years, till I had acquired a sufficient fund 



84 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

of tsfaomiedge Ibr pveaohrng. The bmef methodise 
6owPBe*of brother Gassaway waa, to study and ^each, 
and preach and study, from day to day. It was 
several weeks before I could be brought to acquiesoe 
ia bis opinion ; and for most of that time, so clearly 
peasouable and proper did it appear to me to desist 
froTnall public exercises till I should have qualified 
myself to pei'fbrm them in a manner worthy of the 
sacred office, ^nd it was a point so closely concern- 
mg conscience, that I must have caused m}^ excel- 
lent friend some uneasiness. However, his patient 
spirit WAS sufficient to the trial, and most kindly 
and affiBctionately did he still argue on. One point 
which he made, and a capital one, I thought he 
carried against one. I had supposed two yaare to 
be necessary for the study of divinity before 1 
should exercise at ^11 in public ; and that the quali- 
fication gained for more effective service in future 
by these two years of close study, would more than 
compensate for the loss of time from such imperfect 
efforts as I mi^t essay in the mean time on his 
plan of studying and preaching, and preaching and 
studying. And the point he made wa.s, as to the 
qualification to be gained for future usefuln^ess at 
the lapse of two or more years, by the one course 
or by the other; holding it probable that a student 
on his plan would become a better preacher at the 
end of a term of y^ars than he would on mine. 
He admitted that ^on my plan he might learn more 
theology, And be able to compose a better thesis, 
Wt Insisted he would not make a better preacher. 



AUTOBIOGRA P H^Y. 85 

Ibj tltis: argument he insisted much' on the practieal 
character of preaching: that to reach ita endv. it 
must be more than a well-composed sermon, or an 
elbquent discourse, or able dissertation. It. must 
have to do witli men as a shot at a mark; in which 
not only the ammunition should be good, but the 
aimt true. The preacher must be familiar with man 
to* re&ch him with eftect. And the force of preach- 
ing must largely depend, under the blessing of God^ 
on the naturalness and truthfulness of the preach«- 
er's postulates; arguing to the sinner from what he 
knows^ of him, the necessities of his condition^ 
appealing to his conscience^ and recommending the 
grace of God. But he quite overcame me with this 
Hdial remark. Dt was as we were riding along that 
dreary sand-hill road in Chesterfield District leading 
&om the Gourt-house toward Sumtervillcj and' I 
seemed more than usually earnest in my objections^ 
lliat, after quite a speech on my side of the question, 
he thus answered me : " Well, Billy, it is only sup- 
position^ £^ter all. And. if you are called to preaoh, 
and sinners are daily fiiUing into hell^ take care lest 
the blood of some of them be found on your skirts." 
Sure enough^.it was only "supposition*** The true 
question w^as as to usefulness) not eminence ; and 
-with nespeet to thai matter, at least, I could only 
suppose^, s^nd could not certainly know, that it mi^t 
he better for me to desist fronimy present aourse and 
adoptr. another. Here then ended that difficulty 
abai}ii Hie e:solusive study of divinity. I inataatlj^ 



86 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

gave it up, and thanked my friend for his pains and 
patience with me. 

The San tee Circuit at that time extended from 
a meeting-house called Ganey's, some four miles 
aboT3 Chesterfield, which was its highest appoint- 
ment, to Tawcaw, near Santee river, which was its 
lowest. And it was on this my second round 
with brother Gassaway, (October, 1808,) that we 
attended a camp-meeting at Tawcaw; where it 
pleased God to give me the encouragement of 
making my very imperfect exhortations instrumen- 
tal of good among the people. Tn particular, that 
estimable and engaging young man, Joseph Gallu- 
chat, afterward for many years so well known and 
much beloved in Charleston for his abilities and 
spotless character as a preacher, acknowledged so 
humble an instrumentality as this, the means of his 
awakening and conversion. And this circum- 
stance tended no little to confirm me in the pur- 
pose I had formed, (I trusted, under the influence 
of the Holy Spirit,) to devote myself to the work 
of preaching the gospel of Christ. 

During my third and last round of riding with 
brother Gassaway, and as late in the season as 
past the middle of November, a camp-meeting was 
held at Rembert's; (the second one at the same 
place that year.) And this being also the occasion 
of the last Quarterly Meeting for the circuit, at 
the advice of brother Gassaway, (Bishop Asburj 
also approving,) I was licensed to preach, and waa 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 87 

recommended to the Annual Conference to be ad- 
mitted on trial in the itinerancy. This was done, 
first the license and then the recommendation, on 
the 25th of November, 1808. A camp-meeting was 
held at so late a period in the season because the 
people were in the spirit of it ; and for the special 
reason that the Bishops, Asbury and McKendree, 
had appointed to meet on official business, which 
would occupy them several days, at that time, at 
the house of their old friend, (the Gains of those 
days,) James Rembert, immediately in the neigh- 
borhood, and they would attend the meeting. The 
weather was very cold, colder than November 
usually is ; but the camp-meeting was one of the 
best I have ever known. Different from those of 
former years as to the preparations made for per- 
sonal comfort, a large area of several acres was 
enclosed with lines of well-built tents furnished 
with fire-places; so that the cold, though incon- 
venient, did us no harm. At this meeting it was 
arranged that I should continue on the circuit till 
after the Annual Conference, which the preachers 
were shortly to attend. Brother Gassaway had 
already concluded bis work, and I was to keep up 
a round of appointments in his place. But I can- 
not quite so briefly dismiss the meeting at which 
my brothers Gabriel and John were brought to the 
knowledge of God, and I first saw Bishop Asbury, 
and witnessed his first meeting with my father 
since the former days when he used to find a home 
with him at Bull-Head. 



88 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

But let me here drop the thread of my narrativei, 
for a few sentences, to connect this meeting with 
Bishop Asbury with those former days when my 
father's house was one of his favorite homes. It 
may serve a purpose later in my story, when I 
shall have occasion to mention his regard for me ; 
which I would by no means have you appropriate 
to my own separate merits. I have already men- 
tioned the fact that my father was one of the first 
race of Methodists in South Carolina, and a de- 
cided and influential one; and intimated, farther 
on, that he had declined from his spirituality some 
time after his removal to Georgetown District ; and 
that it was not till the present year (1808) that he 
recovered it. You will remember that on Dr. 
Coke* s visit to America in* 1791, he was accom- 
panied from the West Indies to Charleston by Mr. 
William Hammett, who remained there on account 
of his health ; and that this Mr. Hammett, choos- 
ing to remain for life in Charleston, found some 
occasion to object to Mr. Asbury and the American 
preachers, as if they had done him a wrong on ac- 
count of his devotion to Mr. Weslev ; Mr. Asburv 
being (as he represented) ambitious of supplant- 
ing Mr. Wesley with the American people. What 
I shall say of it is derived from my father^ and a 
parcel of letters between Mr. Hammett and Mr. 
Wesley^ — which came into my possession from. A 
son of Mr. Hammett, as a token of his regard. I 
set it down succinctly from these authorities. Mn 
Hammett' s representation to Mr. Wesley by letter 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 80 

was folly and strongly to the above effect; and 
Mr. Wesley's answers to Mr. Hammett showed that 
he believed it. Similar representations mad^ by 
Mr. Hammett at the same time to the principal 
Methodist gentlemen in Charieston and the Par- 
ishes, were thus confirmed by Mr. Wesley's letters; 
from which it might appear that since the Ra- 
volutionary war, which carried Mr. Eankin back 
to England, Mr. Wesley had had no such con- 
fidential son in America as he deemed Mr. Ham- 
mett to be. Those letters were to the date of the 
year 1791, in which Mr. Wesley died. Mr. Hamr 
mett therefore had the confidence of Mr. Wesley 
(by what means does not appear) to the last of his 
life ; and on that foundation he raised his society 
of Primitive Methodists, both in Charleston and 
Georgetown. And when we consider that there 
were then no Methodist books published in Ame- 
rica, and the people knew little of Methodism, or 
of the action of the Conferences, but what they got 
verbally from the preachers ; and that Mr. Ham*- 
mett had been introduced by Dr. Coke as one of 
the most godly as well as the most gifted of the 
preachers, the wonder is not that he should have 
drawn off to himself, under a banner inscribed 
"Wesley against Asbury,*' some of the most influr 
ential of the people, but we might wonder rather 
that he did not seduce them all ; and tlje more, as 
he was unquestionably an eloquent and able man, 
of fine person and engaging manners^ and at first 
vastly popular. But his work did not. prosj^i^. 



90 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

He had estranged his adherents, of whom my 
father was one, from the rest of the Methodists, 
whom they called "the Asbury Methodists," for 
no good result either to himself or them. But to 
return. 

I was introduced to Bishop Asbury immediately 
on his first coming to the camp-meeting, as I hap- 
pened to be in the preachers* tent at the time of 
his arrival. I approached him timidly, you may be 
sure, and with a feeling of profound veneration ; 
but "Ah,'' said he, "this is the baby; come and 
let me hug you :" meaning that I was the baby 
when he was last at my father's house. On my 
father's entering the tent, he rose hastily from his 
seat and met him with his arms extended, and they 
embraced each other with mutual emotion. It had 
been some seventeen years since they had seen 
each other ; and yet the Bishop asked after Sally 
and Gabriel, as if it had been but a few months, 
and repeated gleefully, "I have got the baby!" 
It was evident that no common friendship had sub- 
sisted between them ; and how much happier had 
those years of estrangement been to my honored 
father if they had been passed in the fellowship 
which he had been seduced to leave ! I hate schism, 
I abhor it as the very track and trail of him who 
" as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he 
may devour." 

The camp-meeting over, I betook myself to the 
circuit, as had been agreed upon ; not with the 
fatherly sympathies and wise and godly counsels 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 91 

of my friend Gassaway to sustain me, but to act 
alone ; and that not as an exhorter only, but as a 
preacher, filling daily appointments to preach. To 
say that I felt incompetent, would not express a 
moiety of my self-distrust. It was an incom- 
petency in which a lack of every qualification ex- 
cept a sense of duty and a desire to fulfil it seemed 
to be present. But the good people of the circuit 
were kind and affectionate, so that I was not per- 
mitted to know if ever they considered me less 
than acceptable. A few days only at home after 
this round on Santee Circuit, and I got intelligence 
of my appointment fpr the ensuing year, from Con- 
ference. That Conference had been held at Liberty 
Chapel, in Greene county, Georgia, the 26th of 
December, 1808 ; and was attended by both of tlje 
Bishops, Asbury and McKendree. I heard sub- 
sequently that my admission had been objected to 
by several of the preachers, on the ground that not 
having yet been six months on trial, and by con- 
sequence not in full connection with the member- 
ship of the Church, I was ineligible ; but that the 
objection was overruled by the Bishops; Bishop 
Asbury deciding that in the absence pf any express 
prohibition, though the inference by analogy was 
against it, the Conference was free to act, and 
admit me, if they deemed it proper, on the merits 
of the case. I have known so many mistakes 
about episcopal decisions, (and when, too, the 
reporters seemed very positive,) that I will not un- 
dertake to say that the reasons of the decision in 



BS LIFE OS WtLLtA^M CAPERS. 

tiusr case w-ere as I was told they were. But it in 
certainly and exactly true beyond doubt or dispute, 
that the objection above stated was made and 
urged eamestiy, particularly by my venerable 
friend, tiien in his prime, Lewis Myers ; and that 
the Bishops (or Bishop Asbury, Bishop McKendree 
beingpresent and not dissenting) did decide against 
it ; and that I was then admitted, when I had been 
but about five months on trial as a member of the 
Ghupeh; And it is equally true that the Bishop 
was not complained of for his decision ; and that 
no subsequent General Conference deemed it pro- 
per to take any exception to his administration, 
nor provide against the like in future, as I have 
known done in a recent case. 

s I was appointed to the Wateree Circuit, which at 
that time extended from Twenty-five-mile creek, on 
the west side of the Wateree river, to Lann'&Ford 
on. the Catawba ; and on the east side, from: the 
neighborhood of Camden to within twelve miles 
of Charlotte. Within this broad range there were 
twenty-four preaching-places, and the time of a 
round was four weeks, the distance about three 
hundred mile^, the membership of the circuit four 
hundred and ninety-eight whites and one hundred 
and twenty-four colored^ And yet I was alone, th« 
scarcity of preachers not allowing me a colleague. 
K I felt my insufficiency on the round which 1 
had ju«t concluded in Santee Circuit, where no- 
things more was required but to preach and- meet 
tiOLd eldsses, how much more now, when, with so 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 

wide m :fieM before ane, aod ao numerous •& micm- 
bership to serve, the whole pastoral care devolved 
on me without a helper. I had not dreamed that 
(me so yotttig as I was might be put in charge at 
ftU. Bat so it was. Nevertheless, I had not done 
it; and should only have to answer for the manner 
in which my duties might be performed. Thus 
with fear and itrembling, but not without the cour- 
age wbich a sense of duty and an upright purpose 
inspires, I^s6t out to my circuit. I was in time for 
the first appointment on the plan, at Sawn-ey's 
OFBek meetiing-hottse, January 7, 1809. Here lived 
tfaict most remar^kable man, J. J*, whose goodness 
n© <ane evea* doubted, but "whose zeal was always 
br^andishing in the temple a scourge of not very 
small cords, as if for fear that some one anight be 
pi^sent W5h© did not love the temple well enough 
to ttfkke a-BCGurging for i t, and who ought therefore to 
be driven out ; and in full faith that the more men 
were baatem the better for them, as it would make 
them more humble and less worldly-minded. His 
was the -rfirst house I entered in my new field of 
labor ; 4aid, if I might have been driven oft' by the 
fi:r8t 'discouragement, he might have made my first 
my Jast appearance in that quarter. I seemed 
to be younger, greener, and a poorer prospect for a 
preacher in his estimate than even in my own; 
and he was an old preacher, and withal a famous 
one. That first introduction to the responsibliti«« 
0f my a>ew charge was after this sort : 



94 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

" Well, have they sent you to us for « ^ 
preacher?*' 

"Yes, sir." 

" What, you^ and the egg-shell not dropped off of 
you yet ! Lord, have mercy upon us ! And who 
have they sent in charge ?** 

"No one, sir, but myself.** 

"What! yoUj by yourself? You in charge of the 
circuit ? Why, what is to become of the circuit ? 
The Bishop had just as well have sent nobody. 
What can you do in charge of the circuit?** 

"Very poorly, I fear, sir, but I dare say the 
Bishop thought that you would advise me about 
the Discipline, and I am sure he could not have 
sent one who would follow your advice more will- 
ingly, brother J., than I will.** 

" So, so. I suppose then I am to take charge of 
the circuit for you, and you are just to do what I 
tell you?** 

"I would be very glad, sir, to have you take the 
charge of the circuit.** 

"Did ever! What, I, a local preacher, take 
charge of the circuit? And is that what you have 
come here for? Why, man, you know nothing 
about your business. How can / take charge of 
the circuit? No, no ; but I can see that you do it, 
such a charge as it will be ; and if / don't, nobody 
else will, for these days the Discipline goes for 
nothing.** And he groaned deeply. 

Such was the colloquy as well as I can rehearse 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 96 

it; and you may be sure it made an impression 
deep enough to remain with me. 

But how could I endure all this ? In the first place, 
I recognized my censor as one of the fathers of the 
Church, whose character I had heard of as alike 
remarkable for goodness and severity ; a holy man, 
and zealous above his fellows, who always carried 
a rod as well as a staft*; and deeply feeling, as I 
did, the evil which oppressed him, I was prepared 
to attribute his severity to its proper cause, and not 
to any personal unkindness. And then there sat 
before me his saintly wife.; one of the meekest, 
gentlest, and best of her sex, whom, at first sight, 
I had taken for a mother ; and if sister J. would 
love me, my old brother might talk on. I knew 
that there was cause of trouble to his spirit in the 
unprovided state of the circuit, and thought that he 
was only venting his troubled feeliiigs, without 
meaning me any wrong. And this very con- 
versation served to tell me that my motherly sister 
did love me. I saw it in every muscle of her face, 
while her sympathies were stirred too intensely for 
concealment. Ah, thought I, woman for ever I 
You may be no better than your husband, but you 
are incomparably more lovely. 

The next day I was to preach ; and I felt some- 
what hopeful at night, on perceiving that he was 
not disposed to renew his severities, and that, w^ith 
all his austerity, he was evidently pleased with the 
interest which his wife took in me, even making a 
suggestion to her occasionally, which seemed to 



96 LIFEOF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

mean that she might use her balsam freely. But 
his remarks were ill-judged, and did me harm. As 
for the matter of personal offence, it was nothing. 
I took no offence at it. But after I had left* his 
house, and was gone on my work, that lashing, 
scorching colloquy would recur, as if a prophet had 
told me from the Lord that I was out of my place 
on that circuit. 

My second appointment, after leaving brother 
J.'s, brought me to a place called Granny's Quarter, 
(the name of a creek some twelve miles above 
Camden,) of which I give another sort of anecdote: 
My mind was intensely occupied with the study of 
the Discipline, particularly the section on the 
duties of preachers who have the charge of circuits. 
And it happened that the eighth item of the answer 
to question two of that section, which made it my 
duty "to recommend everywhere decency and 
cleanliness," had arrested my attention. It was 
Discipline, and must be obeyed ; but how extreme- 
ly delicate, thought I, must the duty sometimes be ! 
But there was a case just at hand. The house at 
which I stopped was exceeding dirty, so that clean- 
liness was out of the question, and even decency 
put to the blush. But it was the house of a brother 
and sister. Cleanliness was next to godliness ; the 
Discipline required of Methodists to be cleanly, and 
of me to recommend it everywhere. If I neglected 
my duty under the Discipline, the people might 
neglect theirs ; and if this particular one, then any 
<rther as they liked. The case was clear ; my duty 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 97 

plain ; but how to go to work in such a matter was 
the question. Something must be done, and that 
directly to the point. I must recommend cleanli- 
ness to the sisterly housekeeper, or neglect my duty 
and seem to wink at her uncleanliness. How was 
I to do it? This question was uppermost in my 
mind all the evening ; but to no purpose, for not a 
word could I find to say. The next morning my 
thoughts were still on my new and difficult task, 
how to recommend cleanliness to my sister so as to 
induce her to keep her house clean ; and still it 
seemed a thing past my accomplishment. Break- 
fast was brought in, and no expedient could I think 
of, till, turning up my plate, which was of pewter, 
and observing the color of it to be of that dingy 
cast which it contracts from being used without, 
rubbing, I began pretty much as follows : 

" Where did you get your plates, sister ? They 
are excellent for use at a distance from town, where 
the breakage of crockery is often inconvenient, 
and I wonder that I don't meet with such oftener." 

"Got them at Mr. *s, in Camden. They 

are mighty good for not breaking, but they don't 
look as pretty as queensware does, is the reason, I 
reckon, why people don't have them.'* 

" Well, but if they are clean, you know, their 
looking dark don't make any odds. Cleanliness, 
to be sure, is next to godliness; but then it may 
be with that as with most other things which may 
not be just as they look. I have seen things that 
looked clean when they were not clean, and these 
7 



98 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

plates are clean, I am sure, though they look ratber 
darker than you would like to see them." 

Her countenance here showed that she took the 
hint, and, I thought, took it well ; so I proceeded, 
and told of a sister whon) I loved very much for 
her Christian qualities and her neat housekeeping, 
who cleaned her pewter by rubbing it briskly with 
fine sand on a piece of coarse woollen, just as I had 
seen it done with brickdust, which I thought bet- 
ter. This served for the pewter plates. Knives 
and forks required the same sort of rubbing, as 
they also contracted a dirty look by only washing 
and wiping them, no matter how clean. I did not 
like, though, the way I had sometimes seen some 
little negroes doing it, by jobbing them into the 
ground. It was better to rub the knives briskly 
across a soft piece of plank on which brickdust or 
dry ashes had been laid. And thus I proceeded 
to the end of the chapter ; relieving it as best I 
could, and watching closely the countenaliee of my 
pupil, lest I should offend her. My work was done, 
and, judging of the cause by the effect, it was well 
done; for I never afterwards found that a dirty 
house. The pewter plates and knives and forks 
were not only cleaned, but made to look clean; 
and my sister became one of the kindest and most 
affectionate of my sisters. I stopped with tiiem 
every round I made, and found myself always a 
welcome guest and in comfortable quarters. 

The general feeling of discouragement which 
was apt to follow a recoUeetion of the strong terms 



AUTOBIoiaRAPHY. 89 

in which brother J. had expressed his disappoint- 
ment at my being sent to the circuit and in charge, 
began early on this first round to work temptation. 
Startled aa he appeared to be at the unsuitableness 
of the appointment, perhaps others might not 
credit it at all. The country was strange, though 
it was not far from home ; no one knew me, nor 
had ever heard of me, and I might be rejected as 
an impostor. Riding up to my preachiug-places, 
the stare of the people seemed to say, " It is im- 
possible; this boy cannot be the man.'' If, as I 
passed through the company going into the meet- 
ing-house, any one accosted me, the impression 
was, I am suspected and shall be asked for my cre- 
dentials. And this was the more annoying as I had 
not with me a single line to certify my appointment, 
nor that I was a preacher at all. It was on my 
second or third round, that, coming to brother J,% 
he asked me in his usual earnest manner how many 
members I had turned out at H. meeting-house. 
"None, sir.'* "What, do you let the people get 
drunk, run for the bottle and turn up jack, and keep 
them in the Church?'* "My dear sir, I hope 
nobody does so at H. I am sure I never heard of 
it." "A pretty piece of business," rejoined he; 
" why, at Polly H.'s wedding a whole parcel of them 
ran for the bottle, and old J. A. held it, and got 
drunk into the bargain. And now you, the preacher 
m chaar^y come here and tell me that you never 
heard of it, though I can hear of it forty miles ofi^" 
This was a poser for me. I had not a word to say. 



343501 



100 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

Can he be mistaken, thought I ? Surely not, or he 
would not speak so positively. And then he gives 
me names. But how could such monstrous wrong- 
doing have been perpetrated without my getting at 
least some inkling of it? I had not confidence 
enough to ask him any questions, but sat con- 
founded under a second flagellation, the wordy 
strokes of which, however, were of little conse- 
quence compared to the facts stated, that such 
immoralities had been practiced, and that the 
perpetrators had not been brought to trial. But 
this was to be the last of my trials from brother J. 
that year. With feelings too sad for society, I took 
the earliest hour for retirement. My bed was in 
an upper room, the floor of which was made of 
loose plank, without ceiling of any kind at the 
lower edges of the joists, which might have ob- 
structed the passage of sounds from the room 
below. And I had not been long in bed before I 
heard my kind-hearted sister say, "0, Mr. J., you 
don't know how much you have grieved me." 
"Grieved you, Betsey,*' replied he; "how in the 
world can I have grieved you ?'' " By the way you 
have talked to brother Capers. I am afraid he will 
never come here again. How can you talk to him 
so?" "Why, Betsey, child,*' returned he, "don't 
you reckon I love Billy as well as you do? I 
talk to him so because I love him. He'll find 
people enough to honey him without my doing it ; 
and he has got to learn to stand trials, that's all." 
Sister J. seemed not to be satisfied, but wished to 



AtJTOBtOGRAPHT. 101 

extort a promise that he would not talk so roughly 
to me any more. But his conscience was concerned 
in that, and he would not promise it. " You may 
honey him,** said h^, "as much as you please, but 
I go for making him a Methodist preacher.** Well 
then, thought I, it is a pity, my old friend, that you 
should spoil your work by not tightening your floor. 
You might as well have promised it, for I will take 
care that you shall not make any thing by the 
refusal. The next morning it was not long before 
something fetched up the unpleasant theme, and as 
he was warming into the smiting spirit, I looked 
in his face and smiled. " What !** said he, " do you 
laugh at it?** "As well laugh as cry, brother J.,** 
I returned ; " did you not tell sister J. last night 
that you loved me as well as she did, and only 
wanted to make a Methodist preacher of me ? I 
am sure you would not have me cry for any thing 
that is to do me so much good.** It was all over : 
he joined in the laugh, and threw away his seeming 
ill-humor. But as for the matter of the immorali- 
ties at H., it turned out to be all a hoax. Some 
wag, knowing how much such a circumstance 
would trouble him, probably originated the tale 
just for that purpose. 

But I could not so easily divest myself of the 
impression made on my mind by that first conversa- 
tion with him. " What was to become of the cir- 
cuit?*' and, "The Bishop had as well have sent no- 
body,*' were words I could not digest. Surely, I 
thought, they must express his judgment as to my 



102 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

anfitnede for my work, "the egg-ehell not dropped 
off of me yet." That judgment being against me, i» 
the foundation of all this harshness after all ; and 
perhaps I had as well give up the circuit and return 
home. My mind became cloudy and uncomforta- 
ble, and I was next tempted to doubt my being 
called to preach ; so that before the first Quarterly 
Meeting I was in great perplexity and sore trouble. 
Indeed, I would have left the circuit, but for the 
consideration that I was bound by contract with 
the Conference to the contrary ; for such appeared 
to me to be the nature of the transaction in which 
I had offered myself for the itinerancy, had been 
accepted, and was appointed to the circuit. At the 
Quarterly Meeting, however, I would see the presid- 
ing elder who represented the Conference, state the 
whole case to him, and get myself discharged. In 
the mean time I proposed to relax nothing in the 
way of official duty; as, at the worst, I might be no 
worse than the Scribes sitting in Moses* seat, and 
the people had better hear the gospel from my lips, 
and have the Discipline administered by me, than 
be left wholly to themselves ; especially as I was 
exceeding nice to avoid all speculation, and stick 
closely to the books. But at the Quarterly Meeting 
no opportunity presented for such a conversation 
with the presiding elder as I wished, before preach- 
ing on Saturday. He preached, and the sermon 
seemed to have been formed for me. I was greatly 
comforted and relieved ; so that the whole time of 
his presence in the circuit passed without my saying 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 108 

a word of what had beea intended. And yet he 
wdn Bcarcely gone before the temptation returned 
with redoubled violence, and I became unhappy. 
There were several excellent men, local preachers, 
in the circuit, (that father in Israel, Robert Hancock, 
for one,) to whom I might have opened my mind to 
great advantage, but Satan hindered me. The pre- 
vailing suggestions for secrecy were, that even as 
things were I might scarcely hope to do any good, 
but to let it be known that I was not called to 
preach, and yet was preaching, would turn the peo- 
ple away from their duty altogether; and that if I 
advised with any but brother J., whose judgment I 
had already, the delicacy of the subject and kind- 
ness of their feelings would get the better of their 
judgment, and mislead me. To give up the work 
I could not for the reason stated ; and to continue 
in it under such extreme embarrassment, seemed 
scarcely to be a smaller evil. 

It W€t8 in such circumstances that, attending an 
appointment at Carter's meeting-house, in Chester 
District, I had the painful duty to perform of ex- 
pelling one of the members on a charge of crim. 
eon. It was a female. Her father-in-law, and the 
connections on that side generally, believed her 
guilty ; her husband held her to be innocent, and 
was partially deranged on account of the afikir; 
and all the society and most of the people of the 
neighborhood were intensely enlisted for or against 
the accused. The trial was conducted with exact 
aojiformity to Discipline, and her triers found her 



104 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

guilty. But on declaring the judgment of the 
triers, and pronouncing her expulsion, a riot ensued 
and considerable violence. Coming out of the 
meeting-house, I heard of the " egg-shell** from this 
quarter, a woman exclaiming at the top of her voice, 
*' He had better go home and suck his mammy.** 
Several were fighting, and among the rest was the 
poor crazy husband fighting his father. I recog- 
nized several members of the Church among those 
who if not actually fighting were ready for it, and 
profanely boisterous. And this sad aftair helped 
me much. The "egg-shell,** and "sucking my 
mammy,*' from the lips of a vulgar woman, changed 
entirely the character of my fancied disqualifi- 
cation for the work I was engaged in ; while I knew 
that in that instance, at least, my duty had been 
well and rightfully done ; and that the imputation 
came from none of the Lord's prophets, but one of 
those who were of the synagogue of Satan. It 
served me also another purpose. It roused me from 
a constant brooding over my unworthiness ; as it 
furnished a new subject for my mind to act on, of 
sufficient interest to engage it fully. What was to 
be done, when I should come to Carter's meeting- 
house on my next round, to reduce this confusion 
to the order of the gospel, became the question, 
instead of what I was to do with myself. At the 
time, there was a very large congregation assem- 
bled as if for some uncommon cause ; but I preached 
on the truth and necessity of conversion, as if 
nothing unusual had taken place. After sermon, I 



AUTOBIOQRAl>flY. 106 

made the usual appointment to meet the society 
apart from the congregation, and told them that I 
felt a special solicitude to have every one remain 
for the society meeting whose name had been left 
in the church-book at my last appointment. I knew, 
and it was known to them, that some unhappy 
things had transpired. Several weeks had since 
passed, there had been time for reflection, and I 
earnestly begged them all to remain. They all did 
remain ; and after opening the meeting with singing 
and prayer, I took the class-paper, and calling the 
first name on the list, instead of addressing the 
individual, as usual, with some question about the 
state of his soul, I asked of the rest if there was any 
thing against him ; telling them, at the same time, 
that, in view of what had passed among them four 
weeks before, and possibly other things since, I was 
deeply concerned to have them in peace in order to 
the blessing of God upon them. Peace we must 
have, or, in the absence of it, a curse from the Lord 
instead of a blessing. And I adjured them, if any 
one knew aught against the brother named, he or 
she should make it known. They need not state 
what was the objection just then ; we would inquire 
about it afterwards ; but only say there is something 
against him. If there was nothing against him, 
they might keep their peace. I should proceed to' 
call the whole list in the same manner, for the same 
purpose, that it might be known who was without 
blame among them ; and I warned them that if at 
any time there should arise any strife or quarrel 

6* 



106 LIFE 09 WILLIAM CAPEKS. 

between any of them on account of any thing 
which had then transpired, and of which complaint 
being then called for none was made, the person 
originating it should be held guilty of disturbing 
the peace of the Church, and be accordingly brought 
to trial. If either of them knew aught against a 
brother or sister to interrupt their peace and fel- 
lowship, they should then make it known, by only 
saying one word : that was, there is something (no 
matter what) against that brother or sister. At 
that moment I felt that, for once, the boy was a 
man. I had the bull by the horns and was able to 
manage him. God had heard my prayers, directed 
my mind aright, and given me strength and courage. 
Having gone through the list, I had gotten a com- 
mittee of persons to whom no one might object, for 
the trial of all the rest ; and before the sun went 
down we had finished our work, with the expulsion 
of not more than two persons. 

There are and ought to be exceptions to any gen- 
eral rule. The evil is, (and it is a great abuse of 
a just principle,) when the exception is plead as a 
precedent, and put in the place of the rule itself 
for an ordinary or not so extraordinary a case. I 
had seen at the time referred to, a member of the 
Church, and a clever man, with his coat thrown ofl 
as if for a fight; and he did fight; and yet we did 
not expel him. The melee in which he saw his 
brother fighting his father, had surprised him into 
the transgression; from which he quickly withdrew, 
and betook himself in agony to prayer. And the 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. lOT 

testimony was, that for more than two days and 
nights he neither ate nor drank, but upbraided him- 
self as one of the worst of offenders. He then 
found peace, and at the time of this general trial 
was exceeding happy, saying, " Expel me, brethren, 
for the sake of the cause, but let me join again.** 
And what would it have been to have expelled him, 
and then taken him back again ? Or would it have 
been right to treat him as another ought to have 
been treated ? 

Some time before this I had taken a new place 
into the circuit, on the eastern side of it, called 
Shaffner's; at which my preaching was much 
blessed, and a society raised, among a plain but 
very worthy people who had never before heard 
Methodist preaching. And about the same time 
the large and well-established society at McWhor- 
ter*s meeting-house, in Mecklenburg county, N. C, 
began to be favored with refreshing seasons, and 
an increase of members. At several other places, 
also, good was evidently done ; so that by the time 
of my second Quarterly Meeting, I was enabled to 
discover that my extreme discouragement was owing 
to temptation, and not that I had obtruded myself 
uncalled into the ministry. Afterwards to the close 
of the year, there was no place where my ministry 
was more favored than at Carter's meeting-house, 
and, except perhaps McWhorter's, none where I had 
larger or more attentive congregations. 

In July of this year, (I think it was,) we had an- 
other camp-meeting, at Rembert's in Santee Cir- 



108 LIFE OK WILLIAM CAPERS. 

cuit; and I was permitted to attend it. It waa 
held at the same place as those of the previous 
year, and was of the same character, both for the 
great numbers of people, white and colored, who 
attended it, and the powerful influence of the 
gospel among them. Perhaps there is no spot in 
Carolina, if in any other State, so remarkable for 
the number of persons converted at its camp- 
meetings as this one. It was on the land of that 
old disciple, Henry Young, and I remember hear- 
ing him say that he had known of more than five 
hundred persons converted there, from 1808 to 
1815, inclusive. But I mentioned this camp- 
meeting for a recollection that on my return from 
it to my circuit, I lost the only appointment which 
I ever did lose on any circuit on account of incle- 
ment weather. I was at my uncle's, and fond as I 
was to be there, I suffered myself to be persuaded 
to remain a day ; as by setting out the next morn- 
ing at daylight I might reach the place of preach- 
ing by riding twenty-five miles before the hour. 
My good aunt had my breakfast ready before it 
was day, but it was raining extremely hard, and 
"waif* became the word. I waited till past any 
practicable hour for the ride, and the weather was 
still no better ; but then it cleared off, and my con- 
gregation went to meeting without finding me. 
Many a time afterwards the recollection of this in- 
cident decided me to go when there was little or 
no prospect of finding any one to preach to ; as I 
never found any weather so uncomfortable as I 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 109 

had been taught in this instance my feelings must 
be if I disappointed a congregation. And having 
written this desultory paragraph, I will add an- 
other, which may serve for a comparison of the 
past with the present with respect to an important 
point embraced in the bounds of my circuit, though 
not then a preaching-place. 

A young lawyer of my acquaintance had settled 
himself (though it proved not to be permanent) at 
Lancaster Court-house, and came to my appointment 
at Camp creek, to get me to take the village into 
my round. An appointment was made for preach- 
ing there, and on the day appointed I was early at 
the village. But it happened to be sale-day ; the 
court-house yard was well feathered with carts re- 
tailing cakes and cider, and probably peach-brandy 
and whisky, and the customers were too much 
engrossed with these good things to allow of any 
thing better. Preaching was postponed till night, 
when it was thought the sober ones would attend, 
and the drunken ones be gone home. The text 
was, (N"um. xxii. 38,) ."And Balaam said unto Balak, 
Lo, I am come unto thee : have I now any power at 
all to say any thing ? The word that God putteth 
in my mouth, that shall I speak.** And as I was 
saying something about Balaam and Balak which 
I thought suitable, some one rose up in the congre- 
gation, and stepping a little forward, cursed me 
with a loud, angry voice, and bade me quit that 
gibberish and go to my text. Nobody clapped 
him, and nobody reproved him, but it excited a 



110 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

general titter. I did as I was bidden, but to no 
better purpose ; he came a little nearer, and swore 
that he could preach better than that himself, say- 
ing, " Now, Mr., jist give me them thar books, and 
you'll see.*' This appeared exceeding funny, and 
of course the titter was renewed with increase. 
And a third time he swore lustily that he could 
beat me a preaching all hollow, and if he were in 
my place he would go home and never try again. 
I did, however, try it once more, and only once 
more at that place. And then, as a set-off to the 
previous outrage, the sheriff of the district fixed a 
dancing-party for the night, in special honor, as I 
was told, of the young preacher ; and I was invited, 
(in earnest,) to attend it. That was the Lancaster 
Court-house of 1809; and as I was to go by the 
Discipline in every thing, I gave it up under the 
rule of section xiv., answer to question 1. I had 
no lack of preaching-places. 

The latter part of the year passed off without 
any thing remarkable more than is usually met 
with. My old friend J., whose unfortunate auster- 
ity had been at first so injurious to me, had become 
one of my kindest friends, and the most reliable 
of my advisers in all cases of difliculty. Every- 
where I was treated with affection; and at most 
places I had brothers and sisters whom I loved as 
if I had been born with them. And these were 
the great means of my deliverance from the sore 
temptations of the past time: the fruit which 
it pleased God to give me of my labors, the 



AUTOBIO^RAPHT. Ill 

affectionate confidence of the people, and mj love 
for them. 

At the close of the year, Bishop Asbury passed 
through ray circuit on his way to Conference ; and 
it was arranged for me to meet him at Waxaws, 
(General Jackson's birthplace,) and attend him 
along a somewhat circuitous route to Camden. 
I met him at the house of that most estimable 
man and worthy local preacher, Robert Han- 
cock, who had been more than a friend to me, 
even a father, from the beginning. The Bishop 
was then accompanied by the Rev. Henry Boehm 
as his travelling companion; so long afterwards 
known in the Philadelphia Conference as one of 
the purest and best of Methodist ministers^ and 
whose society I found to be as " the dew of Her- 
mon." This was the last of my itinerant year on 
Wateree Circuit ; and as I have had quite enough 
of the disagreeable in my account of it, I will end 
the chapter (perhaps more to your liking) with 
an anecdote of my first night and last night on this 
trip with the Bishop. I met him when a heavy 
snow had just fallen, and the north-west wind 
blowing hard made it extremely cold. The snow 
had not been expected, and our host was out of 
wood ; so that we had to use what had been picked 
up from under the snow, and was damp and in- 
combustible. Our bed-room was a loft, with a fire- 
place to it and plenty of wood ; but how to make 
the wood burn was the question. I had beei» at 
work blowing axkd blowing, long before bedtiuM^ 



112 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

till, to my mortification, the aged Bishop came up, 
and there was still no fire to warm him. "0 
Billy, sugar,*' said he, as he approached the fire- 
place, "never mind it; give it up: we will get 
warm in bed.'* And then stepping to his bed, as 
if to ascertain the certainty of it, and lifting the 
bedclothes, he continued, " Yes, yes, give it up, 
sugar, blankets a plenty." So I gave it up, think- 
ing the play of my pretty strong lungs might dis- 
turb his devotions, for he was instantly on his 
knees. Well, thought I, this is too bad. But how 
for the morning ? Bishop Asbury rises at four — 
two hours before day — and what shall I do for a 
fire then ? No lightwood, and nothing dry. But it 
occurred to me that the coals put in the m.dst of 
the simmering wood might dry it sufliciently to 
keep fire and prepare it for kindling in the morn- 
ing; so I gave it up. But then, how might- 1 be 
sure of waking early enough to kindle a fire at four 
o'clock ? My usual hour had been six. And to meet 
this difliculty, I concluded to wrap myself in my 
overcoat, and lie on the bed without using the 
bedclothes. In this predicament I was not likely 
to oversleep myself on so cold a night ; but there 
might be danger of my not knowing what hour it 
was when I happened to awake. Nap after nap 
was dreamed away, as I lay shivering in the cold, 
till I thought it must be four o'clock; and then 
creeping softly to the chimney and applying the 
breath of my live bellows, as I held my watch to 
the reluctant coals to see the hour, I had just made 



AUTOBIOaRAPHY. 118 

it out, when the same soft accents saluted me, 
" Go to bed, sugar, it is hardly three o'clock yet.*' 
This may do for that first night ; and the last was as 
follows : It had rained heavily through the night, 
and we slept near enough the shingles for the bene- 
fi.t of the composing power of its pattering upon 
them. It was past four o'clock, and the Bishop 
was awake, but "Billy sugar" lay fast asleep. So 
he whispered to Brother Boehm not to disturb 
me, and the fire was made, they were dressed, had 
had their devotions, and were at their books, be- 
fore I was awake. This seemed shockingly out of 
order ; and my confusion was complete, as, waking 
and springing out of bed, I saw them sitting be- 
fore a blazing fire. I could scarcely say good 
morning, and the Bishop, as if he might have been 
ojffended at my neglect, affected not to hear it. 
Boehm, who knew him better, smiled pleasantly, 
as I whispered in his ear. Why didn't you wake 
me ? The Bishop seemed to hear this, and closing 
his book, and turning to me with a look of down- 
right mischief, had an anecdote for me. " I was 
travelling," said he, "quite lately, and came to a 
circuit where we had one of our good boys. 0, he 
was so good! and the weather was as cold as it 
was the other night at brother Hancock's ; and as 
I was Bishop Asbury, he got up in the bitter cold 
at three o'clock to make a fire for me. And what 
do you think? He\8lept last night till six." And 
he tickled at it as if he might have been a boy 
himself. And this was that Bishop Asbury whom 
8 



114 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

I have heard called austere: a man, confessedly, 
who never shed tears, and who seldom laughed, 
but whose sympathies were, nevertheless, as soft as 
a sanctified spirit might possess. 

The time of Conference (December, 1809) was 
spent at home, and in visiting my sister and uncle, 
with great satisfaction. And at the first intelli- 
gence I was ready to be off to my next circuit, which 
was Pee Dee, (comprehending the present Black 
River and Darlington Circuits,) stretching from the 
neighborhood of Georgetown upward through Wil- 
liamsburg and a part of Sumter District, to a point 
on Lynche's creek about opposite to Darlington 
Court-house, thence across that creek to a short 
distance above a smaller one called the Gully, and 
downward by Darlington Court-house and Jeffers*8 
creek, so as to include all of that part of the 
country lying on the west side of Pee Dee river 
and the route .just described. On this circuit I had 
for my colleague the Rev. Thomas D. Glenn, who was 
in charge. My recollections supply little concerning 
myself for the six months that I was continued on 
it, more than the common routine of travelling, 
preaching, and meeting the classes. It was in this 
circuit, however, that my first wife lived, then 
fifteen years old, but looking younger than her age. 
And, although I entertained not the most distant 
idea of marriage, and she was by no means grown, 
T was conscious of an attachment to her which 
must have overcome my prudence (with her con- 
sent) had she been a little older. I say prudence^ 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 115 

for in those days of long rides and little quarterage, 
with no allowance for family expenses, it was 
deemed vastly imprudent for a young preacher to 
marry, should he even get an angel for his wife. 
Riding, and preaching, and meeting class, then, I 
went round the circuit till the second Quar- 
terly Meeting, after such a common fashion as to 
furnish nothing for remark, except a dry story 
about a witch, and perhaps one about losing my 
suspenders. No, it was here that I learned by ex- 
perience that it was improper for a preacher on 
such a circuit to prescribe to himself certain stated, 
days weekly to be kept as fast-days. I had pro- 
posed to myself to observe strictly every Friday as 
a fast-day, eating nothing till near night, and every 
Wednesday as a day of abstinence, eating lightly 
only of vegetables. On one Wednesday I had to 
take this light breakfast of a bit of bread and a cup 
of coffee at the house of my well-remembered old 
friend, the Rev. Thomas Humphries, on Jeffers*s 
creek, and ride twenty-two miles to preach and 
meet the class, and afterwards twelve miles farther 
to my 'stopping-place, without food. Thursday 1 
rode not quite so far, preached and met class. 
And Friday, my absolute fast-day, I rode from 
fifteen to seventeen miles to my daily work, and 
fourteen miles afterwards. This was repeated but 
a few times before I became satisfied that it was 
wrong, and that the duty of fasting ceased to be a 
duty when one could not rest. I fear that I may 
have erred much oftener since on the other extreme, 



116 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

and excused myself from fasting when it ought not 
to have been neglected. And I will venture the 
remark as a general one concerning this duty aa 
observed by the Methodists then and now : if we 
were then too strict, have we not since become too 
lax? 

But the story of the witch : I had preached and 
held class at the Gully, (I dare say the witches have 
all disappeared from there long ago,) and was come 
to a brother's house to pass the night, when I asked 
him who that singular-looking old lady was who 
sat just before the pulpit during class, and had not 
her name on the class-paper. "0,'' said he, "she 
is the old witch!** "Witch? And if she is a 
witch, why do you suffer her to stay in class?*' 
" Suffer her! why, we are afraid of her, and if you 
knew how much mischief she had done, you would 
be afraid of her too.** And he went on to tell of 
the poor women*s cows she had shot with hair-balls, 
and how with a single hair-ball, or a great many of 
them fired at once^ she had killed in a moment 
every fowl in the yard of some poor woman whom 
she had a grudge against. The story was long 
enough to allow me time to recollect myself, and I 
only answered that she must be too bad to stay in 
class, at any rate. On my next round, seeing the 
same person on the same seat, after preaching I 
repeated the rule, "At every other meeting of the 
class in every place, let no stranger be admitted;" 
an^ remarked that as no such restriction had been 
observed on my last round, I should observe it then. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. IM 

BTo stranger, meaning no one not a member of th6 
Church, could be allowed to stay in during the 
class-meeting which we were then going to hold, 
and that if there might be any one present who 
wished to join the Church, and so secure the right 
of being present at all our meetings, such person 
would please come forward and join the Church. 
The old woman looked as if she might have been 
struck with her hair-ball herself, and dropped her 
head, as if to conceal her face behind the frontis- 
piece of her long black bonnet. "Ma'am,** I 
asked her, "are you a member of our Church?" 
But she did not notice the question. "You, 
ma'am,'* I repeated, "are you a member of the 
Church ? Please tell me, for if you are not, you 
have to join or go out." There was no mistaking 
as to who was meant, and she shook herself with a 
strange wriggling motion, not unlike a turkey in 
the sand, muttering something like boo,ji.boo, boo, 
woo, woo, woo. " You won't be offended with me, 
ma'am, for I must do my duty, and if you won't 
go out I must lead you out." The wriggle seemed 
almost a spasm, and the boo, boo, woo, woo, 
rumbled in her throat as if she might be strangling* 
" Shall I have to lead you out, ma'am, and you a 
lady too?" Boo, boo, woo, woo, and up she got 
and was off, shaking and tossing herself, as she 
went, most ridiculously. But I had spoiled our 
class-meeting. The terror of her anger was upcm 
us, and what would she not do, poor old woman ? 
My good but weak brother told me that evening he 



118 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

thought me very bold for such a young man. "Bold, 
because I would not let a poor befooled old woman 
scare me?" "But she was a witch!*' "Then let 
her shoot my horse/* "Ah,'* said he, "I don't 
know if you will ever get him round here again.** 
"I dare say,** said I, " she would kill him if she 
could, but she can*t, and if she don*t kill him she 
is no witch.** 

But about the suspenders : It was not far from 
the Gully (I think some eight or ten miles) that I 
lost my suspenders. And the way of it was this : 
Brother D., a weak but eminently pious man, had 
conducted me home with him from a very refresh- 
ing meeting; and having retired to a room for 
secret prayer, as he came out with a beaming coun- 
tenance, exceeding happy, "0, Brother Capers,** 
he exclaimed, " how I love you ! I love to hear 
you preach, I love to hear you meet class, T love 
you anyhow, but 0, them gallowses ! Won*t you 
pull them off?** "Pull them off, my brother, for 
what?** "O,** said he, "they make you look so 
worldly; and I know you ain*t worldly neither, 
but do pull them off.** So I pulled them off, and 
it was several years before I put them on again. 

At our second Quarterly Meeting, which was 
early in June, (1810,) I was removed from this cir- 
cuit to the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina. 
The case was urgent, and my removal sudden ; so 
that I went immediately after the Quarterly Meeting, 
and on the 13th day of the month was in my new 
charge. What had been my chief concern the year 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 119 

before in Wateree Circuit, was now become a 
secondary matter, and not how to administer the 
Discipline, but how to serve the people from the 
pulpit, was now the point of principal importance. 
For the administration of Discipline, as it concerned 
my office as preacher in charge, the rules were few 
and plain ; and if in any thing I might be doubtful, 
I was sure to have reliable advisers. But how was 
I to preach four sermons a week to the same con- 
gregation without repetition? And how could I 
expect to keep a congregation who should be served 
with repetitions of the same matter, which, at the 
first hearing, might be only tolerable ? The first 
thing that struck me as necessary was, that I should 
keep strictly to the text, and never bring in matter 
which did not directly spring from it. There must 
be matter enough in any text I should take to make 
a sermon, and when I had delivered that, and such 
exhortation as it naturally furnished, I must be 
done. Then I must be always mindful that I had 
to preach, and conduct my reading and thinking 
so as to be on the alert to find preaching-matter. 
But still I found myself worried with the appre- 
hension of repeating the same thing over again, as 
it seemed impossible to recollect at any one time 
, all that I had been preaching previously. And it 
struck me that, like the promiscuous passing 
of carriages along a street where no one ever thinks 
of keeping or avoiding tracks, compared to the 
market roads, which, though less travelled, are 
much more rutted, I might probably gain my ob- 



120 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

ject more easily by forgetting than by remembering 
previous discourses, if, indeed, I might gain it at 
all. And I determined to try, in addition to the 
two preceding rules, the effect it might have for 
me to put out the tracks as soon as I should make 
them, by not recollecting any thing I had preached, 
but preaching each time as if I had not done so 
before. I mention this, not to recommend it to 
others, but because of its influence over my own 
practice ; and the more, as the rule adopted then 
has generally governed me since. But I am sure 
by experience that the third can only be allow- 
able in connection with the first and second rule. 
For although while preaching was my sole business 
I never doubted that my plan was the best for me, 
I have not been so confident of it since I have been 
charged with other duties to a degree which has 
much diverted my attention from it. To be an off- 
at-hand preacher requires indispensably for one to 
keep his work always in mind, and so actively as 
to press into his service for the pulpit whatever 
may be desirable for it. And if one would have 
new matter in every discourse, he must look for it 
in what has come under his observation in books, 
in men, in every thing he has met with since he 
preached last. But, above all things else, it is by 
studying the Scriptures with an active preaching 
mind, that we may bring forth to effect things new 
and old in all our pulpit efforts. 

For the performance of pastoral duty, I visited 
each family of my charge once a week, appropriat- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 121 

mg the time from 9 o'clock A. M. to 1 P. M. for 
live days of the week to this purpose, and allowing 
a half-hour to each house I visited. The names of 
the families were appropriated to each day, and 
with which one to begin and end for the day, so 
that each family knew within a few minutes when 
to expect me. I considered these stated visits as 
so many appointments which I might not disap- 
point^ and was seldom absent at the time when I 
was looked for. 

In this pleasant town, with such people as the 
Blakes, Coburn, Lumsden, Saltonstall, McDonald, 
Thomas, Eccles, Price, and others, I was most 
agreeably situated. But what contributed most to 
my happiness as regards society, was the uncom- 
mon attachment to each other which subsisted 
between that most pure-hearted and intelligent 
man, the Rev. John H. Pearce, and myself. He was 
generally considered eccentric and enthusiastic. 
But I knew him as he knew himself, and I never 
discovered any eccentricity in him, but this : that, 
being a bachelor, he wore a coarse wool hat as long 
as he could keep ij; whole, brogan shoes, and clothes 
at the lowest price, that he might save every penny 
in his power for the poor ; for whom, whoever they 
might be of virtuous reputation, he felt a more 
lively and intense sympathy than any other person 
whom I have ever known. He was enthusiastic, 
as a matter of course ; for he loved the Lord his 
Qod with all his heart, and his neighbor as him- 
self; which the world and half-fashioned Christians 

6 



122 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

have ever held to be the height of enthusiasm. I 
never found him wanting of a reason of the hope 
that was in him, nor of his conduct in any matter, 
which those who blamed his enthusiasm and eccen- 
tricity might answer from the Scriptures. Love 
seemed to be his universal element, gentleness and 
meekness the forms of its manifestation. He was 
originally from Rhode Island, had been w^ell bred, 
and at this time had two brothers, Oliver. and Na- 
thanael, who occupied first places in the community 
as to wealth and worldly respects. John had been 
brought up to the profession of physic, embraced 
deism in his youth, and adopted the Epicurean 
morals ; but he had now been for some years con- 
verted to God, and was such an example of unlim- 
ited self-devotion as I doubt if T have ever known 
exceeded, if equalled. And what made him parti- 
cularly interesting to me was his continually happy 
spirit, which kept his countenance ever upward, 
ever bright. With him, it was impossible for me 
to suffer a moment's discouragement about any 
thing ; and such was our mutual attachment, that 
we were never apart when it was consistent with 
duty for us to be together. 

With such names as I have mentioned above, it 
should seem that there must have been abun- 
dant means for the support of the ministr3\ No 
doubt there was; and no doubt, too, that if the 
Church had been well organized as regards fiscal 
affairs, there would have been ample accommoda- 
tions for the preacher, without having him to board 



AtJTOBIOaRAPHY. 123 

from house to house among his people. But the 
general policy of the Church was, to have an un- 
married ministry to suit the long rides to the scat- 
tered appointments of circuits a hundred miles 
through ; the towns were not yet considered as 
requiring any thing materially different from the 
circuits ; and except the parsonage-houSe in George- 
town, built for Mr. Hammett and at his instance, and 
a poor hull of a house in Wilmington, built by Mr. 
Meredith for his use, the only parsonage-house in 
the three States of North and South Carolina and 
Georgia was in Charleston : that famous old 
yellow coop which stood in Bethel churchyard; 
in which, when that very great man, soul and body. 
Dr. Olin, was stationed there, he could not stand 
upright in his chamber. But why build parsonage- 
houses for single men, either in town or country ? 
In the present case, it would have been regarded a 
downright evil ; and the incumbent now to be pro- 
vided for out of the question, there were too many 
homes for the preacher, and too much interest felt 
at each of them to have him there, for a thought 
to be entertained of building a preacher's-house. 
Were they not all his houses, and the best of their 
accommodations at his service ? For the six 
months of my pastorate in Fayetteville, I lodged 
successively with brothers Price, Blake, Coburn, 
and Lumsdeu: four instead of one, (their places 
being convenient,) on the circuit principle of alter- 
nating with the people ; because, if the preacher 
was a blessing, they should share it, and if a bur- 






tSU LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

den, they should bear it among them severalh 
I was put under the kindest obligations to them, 
the remembrance of which is more than pleasant; 
particularly those most excellent men and theii 
saintly wives, Isham Blake and John Ooburn : 
fathers and mothers were they indeed to me. 

But the most remarkable man in Fayetteville 
when I went there, and who died during my stay, 
was a negro, by the name of Henry Evans. I say 
the most remarkable in view of his class ; and I call 
him negro, with unfeigned respect. He was a negro : 
that is, he was of that race, without any admixture 
of another. The name simply designates the race, 
and it is vulgar to regard it with opprobrium. I 
have known and loved and honored not a few 
negroes in my life, who were probably as pure of 
heart as Evans, or anybody else. Such were my 
old friends, Castile Selby and John Boquet, of 
Charleston, Will Campbell and Harry Myrick, of 
Wilmington, York ColJen, of Savannah, and others 
I might name. These I might call remarkable for 
their goodness. But I use the word in a broader 
sense for Her\ry Evans, who was confessedly the 
father of the Methodist Church, white and black, 
in Fayetteville, and the best preacher of his time 
in that quarter ; and who was so rernarkable, as to 
have become the greatest curiosity of the town; 
insomuch that distinguished visitors hardly felt 
that they might pass a Sunday in Fayetteville 
without hearing him preach. Evans was inmi 
Vbginia ; a shoemaker by trade, and, I think, wa® 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 125 

IxHrn free. He became a Christian and a Methodist 
quite young, and was licensed to preach in Virginia. 
While yet a young man, he determined to remove 
to Charleston, S. C, thinking he might succeed 
best there at his trade. But having reached Fay- 
etteville on his way to Charleston, and something 
detaining him for a few days, his spirit was stirred 
at perceiving that the people of his race in that 
town were wholly given to profanity and lewdness, 
ftever hearing preaching of any denomination, and 
living emphatically without hope and without God 
in the world. This determined him to stop in 
Fayetteville ; and he began to preach to the negroes, 
with great effect. The town council interfered, 
and nothing in his power could prevail with them 
to permit him to preach. He then withdrew to the 
saiid-hiUs, out of town, and held meetings in the 
woods, changing his appointments from place to 
place. No law was violated, while the council was 
effectually eluded ; and so the opposition passed 
into the hands of the mob. These he worried out 
by changing his appointments, so that when they 
went to work their will upon him, he was preaching 
somewhere else. Meanwhile, whatever the most 
honeet purpose of a simple heart could do to recon- 
cile his enemies, was employed by him for that end. 
He eluded no one in private, but sought opportu- 
lities to explain himself; avowed the purity of his 
intentions ; and even begged to be subjected to the 
scrutiny of any surveillance that might be thought 
proper to prove his inoffensiveness ; any thing, so 



126 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APBR8. 

that he might but be allowed to preach. Happily 
for him and the cause of religion, his honest coun- 
tenance and earnest pleadings were soon powerfully 
seconded by the fruits of his labors. One after 
another began to suspect their servants of attend- 
ing his preaching, not because they were made 
worse, but wonderfully better. The eftect on the 
public morals of the negroes, too, began to be seen, 
particularly as regarded their habits on Sunday, 
and drunkenness. And it was not long before the 
mob was called oft' by a change in the current of 
opinion, and JEv^ns was allowed to preach in town. 
At that time there was not a single church edifice 
in town, and but one congregation, (Presbyterian,) 
who worshipped in what was called the State-house, 
under which was the market ; and it was plainly 
Evans or nobody to preach to the negroes. Now, 
too, of the mistresses there were not a few, and 
some masters, who were brought to think that the 
preaching which had proved so beneficial to their 
servants might be good for them also ; and the 
famous negro preacher had some whites as well as 
blacks to hear him. Among others, and who were 
the first fruits, were my old friends, Mr. and Mrs. 
Lumsden, Mrs. Bowen, (for many years Preceptress 
of the Female Academy,) Mrs. Malsby, and, I think, 
Mr. and Mrs. Blake. From these the gracious influ- 
ence spread to others, and a meeting-house was 
built. It was a frame of wood, weatherboarded 
only on the outside without plastering, about fifty 
feet long by thirty feet wide. Seats, distinctly 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 127 

separated, were at liret appropriated to the whites, 
near the pulpit. But Evans had already become 
famous, and these seats were insufficient. Indeed, 
the negroes seemed likely to lose their preacher, 
negro though he was, while the whites, crowded 
out of their appropriate seats, took possession of 
those in the rear. Meanwhile Evans had repre- 
sented to the preacher of Bladen Circuit how things 
were going, and induced him to take his meeting- 
house into the circuit, and constitute a church 
there. And now, there was no longer room for the 
negroes in the house when Evans preached ; and 
for the accommodation of both classes, the weather- 
boards were knocked off and sheds were added to 
the house on either side ; the whites occupying the 
whole of the original building, and the negroes 
those sheds as a part of the same house. Evans's 
dwelling was a shed at the pulpit end of the 
church. And that was the identical state of the 
case when I was pastor. Often was I in that shed, 
and much to my edification. I have known not 
many preachers who appeared more conversant 
with Scripture than Evans, or whose conversa- 
tion was more instructive as to the things of God. 
He seemed always deeply impressed with the re- 
sponsibility of his position ; and not even our old 
friend Castile was more remarkable for his humble 
and deferential deportment towards the whites 
than Evans was. Ifor would he allow any partiality 
of his friends to induce him to varv in the least 
degree the line of conduct or the bearing which 



128 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPEftS. 

he had prescribed to himself iu this respect ; uevet 
speaking to a white man but with his hat under 
his arm ; never allowing himself to be seated in 
their houses ; and even confining himself to the 
kind and manner of dress proper for negroes in 
general, except his plain black coat for the pulpit. 
"The whites are kind to me, and come to hear me 
preach," he would say, "but I belong to my own 
sort, and must not spoil them." And yet Henry 
Evans was a Boanerges; and in his duty feared not 
the face of man, 

I have said that he died during my stay in Fay- 
etteville this year, (1810.) The death of such a 
man could not but be triumphant, and his was dis- 
tinguishingly so. I did not witness it, but was with 
him just before he died ; and as he appeared to me, 
triumph should express but partially the character 
of his feelings, as the woixi imports exultation at a 
victory, or at most the victory and exultation to- 
gether. It seemed to me as if the victory he had won 
was no longer an object, but rather as if his spirit, 
past the contemplation of triumphs on earth, were al- 
ready in communion with heaven. Yet his last breath 
was drawn in the act of pronouncing 1 Cor. xv. 
57 : " Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory 
through our Lord Jesus Christ." It was my 
practice to hold a meeting with the blacks in the 
church directly after morning preaching every 
Sunday. And on the Sunday before his death, 
during this meeting, the little door between his 
humble shed and the chancel where I stood was 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 129 

opened, and the dying man entered for a last fare- 
well to his people. He was almost too feeble to 
stand at all, but supporting himself by the railing 
of the chancel, he said : "I have come to say my 
last word to you. It is this: None but Christ. 
Three times I have had my life in jeopardy for 
preaching the gospel to you. Three times I have 
broken the ice on the edge of the water and swum 
across the Cape Fear to preach the gospel to you. 
And now, if in my last hour I could trust to that, 
or to any thing else but Christ crucified, for my 
salvation, all should be lost, and my soul perish 
for ever.*' A noble testimony! Worthy, not of 
Evans only, but St. Paul. His funeral at the 
church was attended by a greater concourse of 
persons than had been seen on any funeral occasion 
before. The whole community appeared to mourn 
his death, and the universal feeling seemed to be 
that in honoring the memory of Henry Evans we 
were paying a tribute to virtue and religion. He 
was buried under the chancel of the church of 
which he had been in so remarkable a manner the 
founder. 

Looking back on my past life, I know no single 
duty which I might suppose myself to have dis- 
charged in measure and manner as I ought to have 
done ; and if some bright spots appear in the gen- 
eral shade, and there were instances of devotion 
seeming to answer somewhat to my obligations, 
they may not be relied on for my justification, but 
9 



180 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

show rather by contrast how much more has been 
neglected than discharged. 

** Jesus, thy blood and righteousness 
My beauty are, my glorious dress." 

I have often been struck with the force of that 
particular obligation which is stated in the office 
of the ordination of deacons : "And furthermore, 
it is his office to search for the sick, poor, and im- 
potent, that they may be visited and relieved," and 
have felt painfully how deficient I have been, how 
much less than my duty I have done. The winter 
was coming on with uncommon severity, and 
brother Pearce, who seemed to live for the poor, 
suggested that we might do something in their 
behalf, several persons whom he knew being with- 
out sufficient clothing or blankets to keep them 
comfortable, or even more than preserve them from 
freezing in the coming cold weather. And it was 
agreed on between us that we would ask our friends 
for some trifle to assist us in this charity. I pro- 
posed to beg the money if he would appropriate it, 
but he would by no means take for his share of the 
service the luxury of applying what we might ob- 
tain, and so we went together both in the getting 
and the giving. The money in hand, what should 
we buy with it? And he advised to divide it 
equally to blankets and coarse woollens. These 
were purchased; and the next thing, of course, 
was to distribute them. They were large bundles, 
requiring the shoulder; especially the blankets; 



^AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 181 

and lie shouldering the larger, showed me an ex- 
ample with respect tq the smaller. I clutched it 
under my arm, and off we went. . And why have 
I not since spent many such a happy day as that ? 
I remember that at one place, the house of an ap- 
proved sister, where we left a pair of large Duffel 
blankets and several yards of the woollen cloth, 
there was but one whole blanket in the house, 
which was employed as a wrapper for the poor man, 
who, after destroyinghimself by intemperance, had 
now been for several years hopelessly a paralytic, 
requiring more of his wife's attention than a child 
might ; while for their subsistence, and that of two 
clever little boys of eight and ten years old, she 
took in washing, having to bring her fuel on her 
head, with the assistance of the little boys, a 
mile and a half from the woods. But how could a 
worthy member of the Church be suffered to en- 
dure such distressing poverty? I. presume just 
because she was so worthy as to prefer suffering to 
complaining ; and as she was always looking decent 
at church and at class, and those who should have 
relieved her (and would have done so had they 
known) were occupied with their own business, 
her wretchedness was not suspected. Brother 
Pearce himself had no idea of the extremity of the 
case, though often in the house, till that day. Yes, 
^Hhe sickj poor, and impotent'' — those very individ- 
uals of them who have most need of assistance and 
have the best claims for it — ^may live near by us and 
we do nothing for them, only because we do not 



iL$2 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

^s^areh'' for them, and they are backward to com- 
plain. 

Few half years of my life have been spent more 
pleasantly or more profitably than the half year in 
Fayetteville. Alas, that I should have profited no 
more by the many that have passed on to the judg- 
mout since that time ! 

At the close of the year I attended Conference 
for the first time, (Dec. 22, 1810,) at Columbia, 
South Carolina. The sessions were held in the 
parlor of the Hon. (afterwards Governor) John Tay- 
lor, who being at Washington City, and the house 
unoccupied, most kindly gave the use of it for this 
purpose. In my day, therefore, the time has been 
when a gentleman's parlor was sufficient to accom- 
modate a session of the South Carolina Conference \ 
and that the time too when there was no other 
Conference south or south-west of it : no Georgia, 
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, nor Louisiana Con- 
ference ; but all the travelling preachers south of 
the Cape Fear river belonged to this Conference. 
At this time we had seventy-four preachers belong- 
ing to the Conference, employed on thirty-nine 
circuits and stations, of which twenty-four belonged 
to South Carolina and that part of North Caro- 
lina lying south of Cape Fear and the head-waters 
of Yadkin; fourteen belonged to Georgia; and 
there were two preachers employed as missionaries 
in Alabama. The returns gave us seventeen thou- 
sand seven hundred and eighty-eight whites, and 
^^t I^aifi6aen4 two huftdred «aid two color«d mei»r 



bers of our eommunion ; and in all tho Conferences 
together, including Canada, there were six hundred 
and fifty preachers and one hundred and seventy^ 
four thousand five hundred and sixty members. I 
wais now admitted into full connection with the 
Conference and ordained deacon. 

What most concerned me at this Conference wa« 
Bishop Asbury's appeal to the preachers to induce 
them to ofl:er themselves for the work in the South- 
west, which lying beyond "the wilderness," (as the 
country from the Ocmulgee river to near the 
Alabama was called,) and yet another wilderness 
of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians beyond 
that, seemed as remote and inaccessible as Cali- 
fornia might seem at present. It was before the 
dawn of the day of steamboats, and not so much 
as a stagecoach or hack passed through the land. 
I was deeply exercised on this subject, and after 
passing a sleepless night, mostly on my knees, 
called on my faithful friend and foster-father, Gass- 
away, for counsel. He advised me to open my 
mind to the Bishop as freely as I had done to him, 
and leave it for his decision whether to go or not go. 
I did so without delay, and his decision was un- 
hesitatingly against it. "Can't send you, Billy, 
sugar,*' said the apostolic man, tenderly embracing 
me ; " you won't know how to take care of your- 
self." A very different appointment was before 
ia?e, and I was sent to Charleston. 

Perhaps we were rather cynical in those daj^s; 
perhaps we are so still. Certainly we had no high 



184 LIFie Olf WILLIAM GAPERS. 

conceit of human nature in the mass; and wtj 
may not have held each other to be incorruptible. 
I believe our jealousy was a godly one, which, 
though sometimes unfortunate and even unwise, if 
not faulty, meant no evil ; and that, on the whole, 
it was safer for the Church, though sometimes 
severe to individuals, than the absence of it might 
have been. Preachers (at least the younger ones) 
were not often together for a few days without 
giving each other a proof of love in some correc- 
tion. It might be in their pronunciation of such 
or such a word, some article of dress, or the way 
the hair was combed; or it might be something 
more serious, touching their spirit or manners; 
so that we were always watching over each other, 
and, as I believe, for good. It was a delicate duty, 
but we deemed ourselves bound to the discharge 
of it, on the principle of helping each other, in 
view of our acknowledged imperfections, the sa^ 
credness of our work, and the confidential character 
of our relation to each other. But this good 
practice was liable to abuse by excess; and with 
minds unfortunately constituted, it sometimes led 
to unpleasant suspicions. And this was the more 
likely to be induced, since with all our readiness for 
correction, we studiously avoided any word of 
praise. There could be no danger of being too 
humble, we thought, though there might be of the 
opposite; and above all things we should avoid 
pride, as a preacher's greatest bane. And unfor- 
tunately for me during the first half of this year, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 185 

my respected senior took it into bis head that I 
was so much endangered by the attentions of the 
people, it would require all his endeavors to keep 
nie humble. We had at that time but two 
churches belonging to our Connection in Charles- 
ton. These were Cumberland Street and Bethel. 
Trinity as yet was not ours, but three preachers 
had been sent to the city, under a stipulation with 
the trustees of that church to take it into our 
circuit with the others; they managing things in 
their own way as regarded discipline and the col- 
lections, and engaging to pay the amount of the 
quarterage of one preacher, (eighty dollars,) with- 
out cost for board. And the failure of this experi- 
ment was so utter as to induce the trustees, at the 
expiration of the second quarter, to release them- 
selves from their engagement, on the ground that 
the stipulated eighty dollars could not be raised. 
Our principal church was Cumberland Street, where 
we had half a houseful or more in the mornings, 
and more than the house could hold in the after- 
noons and evenings. Bethel was not so large a 
building, and, except in the mornings, was not so 
well attended ; so that for the afternoons and even^ 
ings, whoever preached at Cumberland Street had 
twice as many hearers as the preacher at Bethel. 
Trinity, except in name, was out of the question : 
no congregations could be got there. But my ap- 
pointments, for several months together, kept me 
to Bethel and Trinity for the afternoons and even- 
ings, and Cumberland in the morning, with but 



186 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

few exceptions. My name was second in the order 
of the minutes of Conference, but for official busi- 
ness the preacher in charge always passed me by 
and asked assistance of my colleague, who was no 
older than myself; and all for no purpose under 
heaven but to keep me humble. My excellent 
friend, the Rev. William M. Kennedy, was Pre- 
siding Elder, and I asked his attention to this 
matter. But he could only assure me that my senior 
wished me no harm, but did it only to prevent my 
being injured by what he called my popularity. 
But does he not degrade me ? was a question not 
so easily answered as that of the reason of the 
course pursued. A slight change followed for a 
little while only, and then the former manner of 
rotation was renewed for the special benefit I should 
derive from it as a counterpoise to popularity. 
Happily for me, I believed that my senior col- 
league was honest-hearted, though in this case in- 
judicious ; and with the correction of what seemed 
to me an ill-judged degradation, all was in harmony 
and went on smoothly with us. During the many 
years which have since elapsed, he has abundantly 
proved his great worth as a man and minister, 
and I have always confided in him as a friend. 

You need not be told here of the sad disabilities 
which our ministry had fallen under, before my 
time, in consequence of the action of the General 
Conference, instigated by Dr. Coke, with respect, 
to slavery. At the time of our present date, (the 
first of my knowing any thing about it,) we lay 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 187 

under the ban of suspicion as disorganizers who 
could not be trusted among the negroes without 
danger to the public peace, all along the wealthier 
portions of the low country from Cape Fear to the 
Savannah river. My information of those earlier 
times is to the effect that Methodism, on its first in- 
troduction into the low country of South Carolina, 
was as favorably received as anywhere else in the 
United States. If we take Charleston for an exam- 
ple, we shall find among the names of its first 
members, Joshua Wells, John Stoney, Francis 
Weston, Thomas Bennett, (father of the late Gover- 
nor,) and others belonging to the best portion of 
the community, even as the world might judge. 
But before my time, we had become reduced to a 
condition of positive obscurity ; and it might have 
been said to the brethren there, not only that " not 
many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, 
not many noble were called,'* but that none were. 
And for the country, an anecdote or two may serve 
to illustrate the matter. Among the chief of our 
ministers of the first race was Reuben Ellis, and 
among the most wealthy and influential of the 
inhabitants of Cooper river, and second in either 
regard to but few men in the State, was Eliaa 
Ball, Esq. Mr. Ellis, travelling his district, called 
at Mr. Ball's, and was courteously entertained. 
And the conversation turning on the good that 
might result from preaching to the negroes, it wafi 
proposed to make an experiment that evening by 
collecting them in the spacious piazza attached 



138 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

to Mr. BalPs mansion, for Mr. Ellis to preach tc 
them. He preached accordingly; and Mr. Ball 
was so captivated with it, as to urge for another 
evening's service. And before Mr. Ellis left, he 
offered him a salary of six hundred dollars and his 
board to remain permanently as his chaplain, and 
to preach to his negroes every Sabbath day. This 
anecdote I got from my father, who got it from Mr. 
Ellis or Mr. Ball himself. 

I cannot tell what may have carried Dr. Coke 
there, but on that very visit to America which 
proved so hurtful by the introduction, of his aboli- 
tion measures, he happened to visit Edisto Island, 
(the largest and wealthiest of our sea islands,) and 
preached. And such was the influence of his 
visit as to induce a petition for a preacher to be 
sent to the island. One was appointed accord- 
ingly, but before his arrival the storm from the 
North was upon us, and he found no place for the 
sole of his foot. 

A singular state of things ensued. We had 
belonging to the Church in Charleston, (1811,) as 
if raised up for the exigences of the time, some 
extraordinary colored men. I have mentioned 
Castile Selby; there were also Amos Baxter, Tom 
Smith, Peter Simpson, Smart Simpson, Harry 
Bull, Richard HoUoway, Alek Harlston, and others, 
men of intelligence and piety, who read the Scrip- 
tures and understood them, and were zealous for 
religion among the negroes. These were favorably 
known in the country places, on Goose creek. 



AUTOBIOGKAPHt. 189 

Cooper river, Wando, St. Paul's Parish, St. James, 
St. John, and Wadmalaw Islands, and even as far 
as Pon-Pon river. I mean that in all these parts, 
some one of them was known and approved by 
some several of the planters, for whom they had 
been accustomed to do work, (one as a millwright,- 
another as a carpenter or shoemaker,) or out of 
whose estates they had been liberated, or to whom 
or whose near friends they belonged. And while 
the white man, a citizen, born and bred on the soil, 
and even owning slaves, for being a Methodist 
preacher was excluded, as if by some sentence of 
outlawry, these colored men were permitted to 
hold meetings with the negroes pretty freely : as, 
for instance, Holloway on Goose creek, or Amos 
Baxter on Pon-Pon. And while they might re- 
ceive any allowance at all on the part of the plant- 
ers, or their meetings were only winked at, they 
received on our part the most hearty encourage- 
ment. Our plan was to recognize them as our 
agents. We authorized them to admit and exclude 
members ; kept regular lists of their classes as be- 
longing to our charge in Charleston ; (for there was 
no other to which they could belong ;) and they re- 
ported to us minutely on Monday what had been 
done on Sunday. They were the only persons who 
for Christ's sake were zealous enough to undertake 
such a service, and who, at the same time, could 
get access to the people that that service might be 
rendered. And I am satisfied that we did right to 
encourage them to the degree we did, notwith- 



140 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

stauding we could not exactly square it either by 
the statutes on the one hand, or the rules of Discip- 
line on the other. We knew them to be good 
men ;. the work was one of the most sacred obliga- 
tion to be done ; and this was our only alternative. 
But how imperfect was such a half-fashioned expe- 
dient, in comparison to the regular missionary 
labors which. have since been bestowed in the same 
quarters, under a better condition of things ! 

Under all the obloquy cast upon them, the Me- 
thodists were, nevertheless, much esteemed. But 
it seemed to be an esteem like that one might have 
for inferior animals which render service, rather 
than a recognition of their proper claims as a flock 
of Christ's own fold. Their preaching might be 
attended with great propriety, for almost every- 
body did so, but who might join them? No, it 
was vastly more respectable to join some other 
Church, and still attend the preaching of the 
Methodists, which was thought to answer all pur- 
poses. And this has been the case long since the 
year I am speaking of. The persons of that year 
whom I can call to mind have gone to their 
account ; and yet I hesitate not to say that if all 
the individuals who have joined other Churches in 
that city since 1811, professing to have been awak- 
ened under the Methodist ministry, had joined the 
Church where God met them, the Methodist Church 
in Charleston might have ranked in worldly respects 
with the very first, before this day. 

This year we commenced preaching in the poor^ 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 141 

house with good effect ; and the praotice wa« kept 
«p for many years afterwards. 

In September I attended a call to the country, 
which, by God's blessing, produced the nucleus of 
Cooper River Circuit. A Mr. Hale, living on the 
main road between Clemens's Ferry, (five miles 
above Charleston,) and Lenud's Ferry, on Santee, 
ten miles from the latter place, had represented 
the destitution of preaching in his neighborhood 
and that part of Santee, and requested that one of 
the preachers should visit them. The lot fell on 
me, and I found work for a week. The appoint- 
ment was made for preaching at the house of the 
applicant on Sunday, at eleven o'clock in the moruf 
ing. There was a large congregation for a thinly 
peopled country, who had not heard preaching of 
any denomination for many years before. After 
preaching I baptized a number of children ; and 
the people still hanging on, as if reluctant to go 
away, I preached a second time. The text wa? 
Luke xix. 9, *' This day is salvation come to this 
house.'* And although the people had been kept 
so long in attendance, and the men generally stood 
up for want of room or seats for sitting, their atten- 
tion never flagged ; so novel was the occasion, and 
so truly was there a gracious influence with them. 
In the midst of the second service, a daughter of 
Mr. Hale cried out arid sank to the floor. It pro- 
duced but a momentary pause, and she being taken 
into the next room, I proceeded with my discourse, 
nfber remarking that it wm not so surprising that on6 



142 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APEB8. 

who had suddenly come to the knowledge of hei 
condition as a sinner should be overpowered by it, 
as that so many who could not believe themselves 
to be in a safe state should be unconcerned about 
it. I took it to be an instance of the literal fulfil- 
ment of the text in the case of the young lady ; 
who, I did not doubt, would be enabled to confirm 
what I said, when I should visit them again. At 
the close of the service, I appointed to preach on the 
following Friday evening at the same place, and 
made an appointment for Tuesday at a Mr. Comp- 
ton's, near Lenud*8 Ferry. At Compton's, too, 
there was a full attendance, and an encouraging 
prospect. Returning to Hale's, I found the new 
convert exceeding happy in the love of God, and 
the rest of the family anxiously inquiring what 
they must do to be saved. Nor was the work con- 
fined to them only; but their neighbors hearing 
that the preacher's prophecy had come to pass, 
(which was no prophecy at all, but spoken on the 
evidence of numerous examples,) they were flock- 
ing to see for themselves what had taken place. A 
class was formed, and the next year my brother 
John was sent to form the Cooper River Circuit. 

I might mention other incidents of this year 
which were deeply interesting to myself at the 
time. But as both they and their consequences 
have passed away, and they might illustrate no- 
thing of any value, I pass them by. The year 
wound up pleasantly. We returned two hundred 
^nd eighty-two whites and three thousand one huur 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 148 

dred and twenty-eiglit colored members to the 
Conference ; and left the Church enjoying great in- 
ternal peace, and, indeed, prosperity. 

The Conference was held at Camden, December 
21, 1811. It was attended by Bishop Asbury, 
alone. The Conference session was on the whole 
a pleasant one; the preachers in the spirit of their 
work, and eminently in the spirit of love. 

There was one case in the course of the exam- 
ination of candidates for full connection and 
deacons* orders, which so remarkably illustrates 
the economy of those times in relation to the mar- 
riage of young preachers, (or I should rather say 
the severity of the Conferences on that subject, 
owing to what was conceived to be the necessity 
of having them unmarried,) that I will relate it. 
A. G. had travelled two years, and both of them as 
the helper of the excellent Qassaway, and was 
eligible to admission and election. No one of his 
class stood fairer than he for piety, zeal, diligence 
in duty, and usefulness as a preacher. Not the 
shadow of an objection was there against him but 
that he had married a wife ; who was in all re- 
spects a suitable person, and of an excellent 
family. And yet for this sole reason he was neither 
admitted into full connection nor elected deacon. 
Brother Gassaway urged with great force the au- 
thority of 1 Timothy iii. 12. But brother Myers's 
speech carried it against him ; the main point of 
which was presented thus : "A young man comes 
to us and says he is called to preach. We answer^ 



144 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

*I don't know.' He comes a second time, peiiiapci 
a third time, even a fourth time, saying, * A dispensa- 
tion of the gospel is committed unto me, and woe 
be to me if I preach not the gospel.' Then we say 
to him, 'Go and try.' He goes and tries, and can 
hardly do it. We bear with him a little while, and 
he does better. And just as we begin to hope he 
may make a preacher, lo, he comes again to us, 
and says, *I must marry.' We say to him, * If you 
marry, you will soon locate : go and preach.' ' No, I 
must marry, I must marry.' We say to him, 'A dis- 
pensation of the gospel is committed to you, and woe 
be u nto you if you preach not the gospel. ' * But no, ' 
he Bays, * I mitst marry.* Ajid he marries. It is 
enough to make an angel weep !" It will naturally 
be supposed that brother Myers was a single man ; 
and his speech may indicate the controlling reason 
why he was single: he connected marriage in- 
separably with location ; or, in other words, a 
carrying of the question, as one between preaching 
and marrying, against one's conviction of his duty 
to preach. The evil which required a remedy was 
not that the preachers took wives, but the unpro- 
vided condition of the circuits; which, without 
parsonage-houses, or means or disposition to rent 
houses for the preachers, and without a penny's 
worth allowed for the support of families, devolved 
on married preachers the unreasonable expense of 
subsisting their families by their own means ; and 
these proving insufficient for the purpose without 
ll^ir personal labor, obliged them to desist &001 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 145 

travelling. And what did it profit the itinerancy 
to bear hardly on the junior preachers for marry- 
ing, when, in most cases, it was only to suspend 
for a few years the coming location ? Or how 
much less cause might there be to make " an angel 
weep," when, for marrying after five or six years 
in the work, an able minister was driven to locate 
for want of subsistence for his family, than there 
was in his doing the same thing for the same 
cause before he had become so useful ? 

My appointment for 1812 was to Orangeburg 
Circuit; the upper division of what had been 
called Edisto Circuit, and which was now divided 
into Salkahatchie and Orangeburg Circuits. It 
consisted of thirteen appointments, and was tra- 
velled in two weeks ; including the fork of Edisto 
for some twenty miles upward, and the societies 
between the north fork of that river and Beaver 
creek, and thence downward in the direction of 
the present State road to a point opposite to the 
village of Orangeburg, and thence to the village. 
A pleasant circuit it was, and a desirable appoint- 
ment ; but I was not permitted to go so immediate- 
ly to it as to my former appointments. At this 
Conference I was required to act as assistant sec- 
retary, brother Kennedy being the Secretary. And 
the day after the session closed, when he would 
have furnished the Bishop with the papers neces- 
sary for publishing the minutes, that very import- 
ant one, the returns of the numbers in society, could 
not be found. I was directed therefore to make 
10 



146 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

haste back to Camden, (for we were theu at Beoob" 
berths,) and search the Conference room for it ; and if 
I could not find it there, to pursue after either of the 
preachers who might have taken a copy, and meet 
the Bishop at such a time, at such a place, with th«t 
lost paper, or a copy, as the case might be. Haw 
could such a paper have been lost? I was in- 
volved in the fault; and that, too, on the first 
occasion of such a service. My horse was a good 
one, the best I have ever had; and I went after 
the lost paper, (which at last proved not to have 
been lost,) as if to recover it had been a matter of 
the last importance. It was not in the Conference 
room ; but some one had seen a brother who was 
sent to the extreme corner of the Conference dis- 
trict .taking a copy of it ; and off I went for Bun- 
combe county, North Carolina. The weather was 
of the worst, and exceeding cold, and my brother 
had nearly two days start of me ; but on the fourth 
day I had overtaken him, got what he had of the 
lost numbers, and was on my way back. But so 
hard a ride through wet and freezing weather, and 
without sufficient clothing, had well-nigh knocked 
me up, so that I had to lose as much time as my 
rapid travelling had gained, (two days,) to relieve 
myself of a fever and incessant cough. Still there 
was time for me to meet the Bishop as he had ap- 
pointed ; and I was off again to do so. I have 
never been on any errand, nor engaged on any 
other business, which absorbed my attention more, 
intensely than the present. I had thought of ao- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 147 

thing else. So that when I discovered that to meet 
the Bishop's appointment must almost necessarily 
carry me to the house of the little girl whose love- 
liness had so enraptured me two years before, and 
who might now be grown up, it seemed a coiri- 
cidence too strange to have been brought about bj' 
accident. If I had thought of it, I might havie 
arranged, to be sure, for the same coincidence. 
But I had not thought of it. No idea of the sort 
had entered my mind, till I found myself cal- 
culating distances and stages on this renewal of 
my jouruey, and found, as by chance, that my 
second night must be passed at the house of my old 
friend Richard Green, Esq., of Black River, in 
Georgetown District, whose stepdaughter Anna 
White was. I saw her, I loved her with an all- 
pervading passion, and she consented to become 
my wife. Nor did I delay my journey ; but met 
the Bishop, (who found the lost paper within 
an hour after I left him,) and was dismissed 
for my circuit with his blessing. Another even- 
ing on my way with her who was become, as by 
magic, the soul of my soul, and life of my life, and I 
was off for my circuit. I could not, however, 
reach there so soon. Snows (for whatever reason) 
were more frequent then than latterly in South 
Carolina ; 'and since the two days* confinement at 
my father's, by cold, I had had another day's 
ride in the snow, so that a week was lost, as those 
two days had been, on my way to the Orangeburg 
Circuit. 



148 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

The first quarter passed oft' exceeding well, and, 
indeed, for all the time of my labors in this circuit 
I might say the same, but for an unfortunate in- 
volvement at the Quarterly Conference closing the 
first quarter. Among the last acts of my prede- 
cessor before leaving the circuit, and after the 
fourth Quarterly Meeting had been held, was a 
trial, involving great general interest, of a highly 
respectable member of the Church at a place then 
called Zeigler's, on an allegation brought by another 
belonging to the society at Tabernacle. These 
were the two most numerous and important socie- 
ties in the circuit. Tabernacle being the first, and 
this affair had involved connections on either side, 
so that it had become little less than a general dis- 
turbance between the societies as well as an alter- 
cation between the individuals. On that first 
investigation it had been given against the member 
at Zeigler*s, and he appealed to the Quarterly Con- 
ference. This Quarterly Conference was the first 
in my year. The appeal consumed much time, the 
case being sonaewhat intricate, and the witnesses, 
pro and con, not a few. A sort of summing up of 
the testimony was called for, and the Presiding 
Elder, declining it himself, asked it of me. I 
ought not to have attempted it, but his suggestion 
seemed to be approved, and for the sole 'reason of 
obliging my senior I did attempt it. This involved 
me in the censure of those who were on the side of 
the accuser, and in whose judgment the evidence 
on the other side deserved no consideration ; and. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 149 

notwithstanding the Presiding Elder's opinion that 
I had been impartial and rehearsed fully the whole 
case, I had to suffer a little for it. In the order of 
my round I came first to Zeigler's, next to Wan- 
namaker's, (now called Prospect, I think,) and then 
to Tabernacle ; and at Zeigler's I got a note from 
brother O. R., of the adjoining circuit, (Congaree,) 
informing me that such and such principal men 
belonging to Tabernacle had waited on him in 
behalf of the society, requesting him to take their 
church into his circuit, for the reason that the 
people of Tabernacle would no longer attend my 
ministry. And the reason of this reason was that, 
on the hearing of the appeal at the Quarterly Con- 
ference, I had given such a one-sided and perverted 
view of it as proved that the defendant's pretty 
sister had more influence with me than my con- 
science. And my good brother and co-laborer was 
so considerate as to advise me not to suffer any 
personal feelings to weigh with me to the loss of 
souls. Of course I would not ; and only answered 
him that we had no authority, even at the instiga- 
tion of the people, to transfer appointments from 
circuit to circuit ; that I would not vindicate my- 
self in the matter complained of, nor acknowledge 
any fault, being conscious of none ; but that he 
might preach at Tabernacle in my place until my 
Presiding Elder, who was gone or about going to 
the General Conference, should return and see to it. 
Two days after, I attended in course on the for- 
bidden ground, and had very few to hear me. 



150 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEftS. 

Them I told that I should not return there for some 
time, hut that in the meanwhile brother R., of the 
Congaree Circuit, would preach in my stead. And I 
gave out his appointment for a certain day. But 
on my second round of two weeks each, how great 
was my surprise at seeing in my congregation at 
Wannamaker's the very men who had been to 
brother R. to induce him to take their society in 
his circuit, and become their pastor on the ground 
of my unworthiness ; and still more, to learn 
from them that their object in coming was to induce 
me to return to them as at first.* Was it to add 
insult to injury that they did this ? By no means, 
they assured me ; but because they were convinced 
that they had done very wrong, and everybody 
knew it. It appeared that a sudden and great re- 
vulsion had taken place by means of an eminently 
pious old sister. It is a curious story, and I will 
relate it: Brother R. had preached his first ser- 
mon, and was meeting class, when, calling the 
name of this particular sister, and asking her how 
her soul prospered, she answered that it had never 
been worse with her than it then was, and she ex- 
pected it to be no better while he continued to 
preach there. She did not wish to offend him, but 
he was not her preacher. " When," continued she, 
" I first joined the Church, it distressed me very 
much that the preacher had to go away, and he 
told me that if I would set apart a day for prayer 
and fasting, and would pray for it daily during 
Conference, the Lord would send me a preacher 



A U TO B I G R A P H T. 1/>1 

who should be to me the same as he had been. I 
did as be told me to do, and the Lord sent me a 
preacher. And I have been doing so ever since, 
and the Lord has always sent me a preacher. I 
did so this year, and the Lord sent me brother 
Capers, just as he had sent the rest ; but I don't 
know, brother, who sent you. One thing I know, 
you are not my preacher. You belong to the Con- 
garee people for this year, and brother Capers is 
our preacher.** And so, "for the divisions of 
Reuben there were great searchings of heart." 
They knew not my secret, or they had spared them- 
selves. 

But to return to the brethren who had met me 
at Wannamaker's. I would not consent to resume 
my appointments at Tabernacle without seeing for 
myself that justice had been done me with the 
community; but I did consent that they might 
make an appointment for preaching there of an 
evening on my next round, when I would decide 
what to do* At the time, I had a large congrega- 
tion ; and the late malcontents seemed to vie with 
those who had been most grieved on my account, 
in their attentions to me. I resumed my ap- 
poiotments : Tabernacle, as at first, continued the 
head of the circuit; and I might have forgiven 
the wrong, if only for the evidence it furnished, 
that travelling preachers might not be less liable 
to difficulties for being unmarried* 

On this circuit I had every thing which a preacher 
naight desire for contentment. There was work 



152 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

enough, and my appointments well attended; at 
almost every place I had affectionate Christian 
friends, whose worth I was prepared to estimate, 
and whom I loved sincerely ; with one slight excep- 
tion, my health was excellent; and, above all, my 
labors were not in vain. What gave me most con- 
cern, was an habitual unbelief as to my Christian 
experience. Not that I ever doubted the genuine- 
ness of my conversion, and that I had received the 
witness of the Spirit at the time before given ; nor 
that I had again and again, on a great many occa- 
sions, enjoyed manifestations of the grace of God, 
as revealed in the gospel ; but the question of per- 
plexity was as to the character of that state in 
which I frequently found myself, when I might not 
be able to assure myself that all was well, for want 
of some special manifestation to assure me. It was 
not a question of the past, but of the present time ; 
and of the present, not as it might be connected 
with the past, but as in itself it stood related to the 
future judgment for my justification or the reverse. 
Was I not " every moment pleasing or displeasing 
to God?*' And if so, what was the character of 
my state at those moments, hours, or days, in which 
I felt not assured by its separate experience of my 
being at that time a child of God ? Such questions 
I was apt to examine in a light too strictly legal ; 
or else with an undue regard to emotions, rather 
than to principles and motives ; and hence I was 
still liable to the pain of what I have called an 
habitual unbelief as to my Christian state. I could 



AUTOBloaRAPHY. 158 

aot be satisfied with myself, not only as it regards 
a comparison of what one is to what one might 
he, but of what one is to what one has been, in 
respect of a feeling of assurance. It was in this 
Tame of mind that I went to a camp-meeting, 
itbout midsummer, on Four Holes, just above the 
bridge on the old Orangeburg road; deeply im- 
pressed with my want of holiness, both for my own 
happiness, and that my ministry might be profitable 
to the people. This meeting was one of the very 
best. ' At first I proposed to myself not to be active 
in it, but to give myself as much as possible to 
retirement and prayer, after hearing the sermons 
from time to time. On this plan I passed several 
days uncomfortably ; and instead of more light and 
love, found my mind more and more perplexed. I 
saw my error, and corrected it by going earnestly 
to work for others ; and was much relieved, though 
still unsatisfied. The meeting closed, and left me 
to return to my circuit, lacking in faith, in love, in 
the assurance of the Holy Spirit, and not, as I had 
hoped, strong and exultant. I had never since my 
conversion felt more dissatisfied with myself than 
I did as, riding pensively along the road to my 
circuit, I reviewed the history, both of the meeting, 
and of my purposes and feelings in going to it and 
during its continuance : how much I had needed ; 
how little I had obtained : with what strong de- 
sire I had anticipated it, as a time of extraordinary 
blessing, and to what little purpose it had been 
improved. Should I return to the labors of my 

7* 



154 LIFE OF WtiiLtAM OAPERS. 

circuit still unrefreshed, like Gideon's fleece, dry 
in the midst of the dew of heaven ? Why was it 
so? Had I made an idol of the camp*meeting, 
trusting to means of any sort in place of the all- 
quickening Spirit ? And I turned aside into a thicik 
wood, saying to myself. There is none here but God 
only, and I cannot thus uncomfortable go back to 
my circuit; I will even go to Him alone who has 
all power in heaven and earth, and who has called 
the heavy-laden unto him that they may find rest. 
Jesus, Master, heal my blindness ! Give me &ith 
and love ! I still remember how, as I hitched my 
horse, I felt to pity him for the long fast he should 
have to keep before he might be unloosed* But it 
was not so. I had scarcely fallen on my knees, 
with my face to the ground, before Heb. xii. 18, 19, 
22, 23, 24, was applied with power to my mind : 
" For ye are hot come unto the mount that might 
be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto 
blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the 

sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words 

But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the 
city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and 
to an innumerable company of angels, to the 
General Assembly and Church of the first-born 
which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge 
of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 
and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, 
and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better 
things than that of Abel/* In that moment how 
spiritual seemed religion, how intimate the conneo- 



AtJTOBloaRAPHt. 166 

fcion between earth and heaven, grace and glory, 
the Church militant and the Church triumphant! 
A od it seemed to challenge my consent to leave 
the one for the other ; as if it had been proposed 
to me, Would you give up all who are below for 
those who are above, and count it now a high 
privilege to have come literally and absolutely to 
mingle with the innumerable company of angels, 
and spirits of just men made perfect, in the hea- 
venly Jerusalem, the city of the living God ? And 
instinct said no, and all the loved ones on earth 
seemed to say no ; but the words sounded to my 
heart above the voice of earth and instinct, " Ye 
are come!'' and my spirit caught the transport, and 
echoed back to heaven, " Fe are come!** In that 
moment I felt, as can only be felt, ** the exceeding 
riches of his grace in his kindness toward us 
through Christ Jesus." I returned to my circuit 
with my strength renewed as the eagle's, full of 
faith and comfort. Nevertheless, I did not per- 
ceive that increase of power attending my preach- 
ing which my former views of the reason of my 
lack of success had induced me to expect. Things 
went on much as before : sinners remained sinners 
still, and backsliders were backsliders still. Our 
clasB-meetingB only, seemed to have much improved. 
Idolatry in its most subtle forms is but idolatry; 
and I had to learn what St, Peter meant (Acts iii. 
12) by saying, " Why look ye so earnestly on us, 
as though by our own power or holiness we had 
made tMs man to walk?*' The miracle had been 



* 



156 LIFB OS" WILLIAM OAI»fiItS. 

wrought by the power of God ; and on the part of th« 
apostle, simple faith, which looked away from all 
within himself to Christ, was the . instrument of 
taking hold on that power which Christ alone could 
exercise, for the accomplishment of a Divine work. 
This faith was not holiness, nor was Peter's holi- 
ness that faith. True, such a faith might not be 
exercised by an unholy man ; but still it was not 
holiness, but simply faith. And it would not be 
his holiness which had been the instrument of a 
Divine work, because the holiness was his, substan- 
tively ; a possession of grace w^hich God had given 
him, and which the Spirit of God kept whole in 
him, but which, nevertheless, was distinctively 
Peter's holiness. It was not because Peter, was so 
holy a man, but simply because he believed in 
Christ, who had called him to the apostleship, that 
the lame man was healed. The difference is as to 
the object of each : the holiness of Peter directing 
attention to him as a man sufficiently well qualified ; 
while his faith points wholly to the Saviour as the 
only and all-sufficient operator. For nothing that 
Peter was, but for w^hat Christ was, the miracle had 
been wrought; Peter simply apprehending the 
power and compassion of his Lord, and speaking 
the word as from his own lips, "In the name of 
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.'* 

I make these remarks on a point which was of 
some consequence to myself at least ; not as under- 
valuing holiness — far from it — but as indicating the 
source of all the perplexities of the past time. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 157 

First, I could do no good because I was doubtful 
of being called to preach. Then I could do almost 
none at all, because I was so deficient as to Chris- 
tian experience. When in heaviness through mani- 
fold temptations, it had seemed presumptuous to 
preach ; and when satisfied of my personal justifi- 
cation, it was not much better, by reason of my 
lacking holiness. And now that I was enabled to 
" rejoice evermore," I might not give it a name, 
because the proof was not sufficient to sustain the 
name in my still scanty success. Nor was this all: 
I might not look for fruit now ; for if I should have 
any great success, it might betray me into self- 
confidence, as if it resulted naturally from my im- 
proved spiritual condition, and was not, as it needs 
must be, the work of God only. So true is it, that 
much light does not imply much love, nor much 
love much light ; and that in any state we may .ex- 
pect temptation. Or, if it should be thought that 
these discouragements of mine, first and last, were 
only proofs of immaturity, it must be confessed 
that riper minds have had their questions too. 
How comes it that X. should be distinguished 
among his brethren as a revivalist, when perhaps 
he exhibits no evidence of greater piety than the 
rest, or is even less sanctified than most of them 
are ? It may not be on account of his eloquence ; 
for he may not be an eloquent man ; and if he is, 
eloquence is manifestly incompetent to the work. 
But we may perceive that whoever he is, and what- 
ever his accomplishments may be, he is sure to aim 



}58 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

aimply at his object. " He goes for getting peoj^e 
eonverted." And what he ''goes for'* he is apt to 
succeed at, because he believes the gospel can 
convert them, and will do it. And does it require 
much depth of piety to believe this ? Is it won- 
derful that even an imperfect believer, in view of the 
whole compass of revealed truth, should believe as 
much ? But he believes also that it will be done at 
the time present. And why not at the present time, 
if at ^11 ? " One day is with the Lord as a thousand 
years, and a thousand years as one day.'* But so 
before the dispensation of the Spirit had been fully 
given, or Jesus glorified, when he taught his disci- 
ples (Luke xvii. 3) that they must forgive all tres- 
passes, and to any number of times, they exclaimed, 
''Lord, increase our faith!'* as if they might not 
have faith enough for that ; though when he had 
sent them to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, 
raise the dead, and cast out devils,** they made no 
difficulty about it, but went straight to do as they had 
been bid, and did it. Have what else we may, or 
may not have, we must have faith that we may do 
any thing in the name of Christ; and faith with 
respect to that very thing which is proposed to be 
done, that he will do it, and at that very time. Nor 
would I say that good cannot be done by means of 
a preacher who has not faith, when on the part 
of the hearer there exist right dispositions, and he 
is shut up to the necessity of hearing him or none. 
I could not say so, but I could say that it is not 
God's method to carry on his work by such men. 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY. 159 

The old Jews might find it profitable to attend the 
teaching of the Scribes who sat in Moses* seat; 
the goodness of the truths taught countervailing 
the unworthiness of the persons teaching; but 
God's purpose was to have better men to teach bis 
word. The exception is not the rule. Nor, indeed, 
18 this the question, which looks not to a possibility 
of profit to well-disposed minds waiting to be fed 
by the word, but to those who may not be so well- 
disposed, and with respect to whom the gospel is 
to operate in its aggressive character. It is a ques- 
tion as to how a preacher should preach so as to 
turn sinners to God ; and my answer is, that bey 
lieving hiniaelf to be called to that work, he should 
believe that God will work by him, and worn now. 
and preach as if he believed it. 

I was not permitted to continue to the ei^^d of 
the year in this pleasant circuit, but was called to 
the bedside of my father in the month of Septem- 
ber, to whom afterwards my duty became due till 
his death. This event, which filled me with ex- 
treme sorrow, was quickly followed by a sore trial. 
I had entered into an engagement of marriage, 
with a purpose of locating at the approaching Con- 
ference, and the time subsequently fixed for the 
nuptials was the 13th of January ensuing. But 
t^he reasons for my locating had been entirely re- 
moved by my father's death, so that I could not do 
so and be clear in my conscience. Might I, then, 
locate on the ground of having formed that en- 
gagement ? And if not, was there any probability 



160 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

of marrying at all? Could I hope that roy 
betrothed would marry a travelling preacher, as 
the itinerancy was then circumstanced? Locate I 
could not. Nothing had been stipulated as to 
location, and any allusion to it had been made with 
reference to that one only cause, which existed no 
longer. But could I, at almost the very period of 
marrying my first love, for whom I felt an aftection 
as intense and exclusive as nature knows, could I 
jeopard all by a new condition, and one, too, so ex- 
ceeding hard as the present was ? The interval be- 
tween the death of my father and the session of Con- 
ference allowed of but a brief visit on my way to the 
CpAfefcnce. Conscience had triumphed ; but ter- 
rible '^^ the suspense till I might know what that 
triumph was to cost me. The cost, however, I 
found to be no more than a smile of sweet approval. 
Conference was held in Charleston late in the 
month of December. At this I was ordained elder, 
by Bishop McKendree, in Bethel church, Sunday, 
December 26th, 1812, having completed four years 
from the time of my admission on trial. My ap- 
pointment was fixed for Wilmington, North Carolina. 
At the appointed time, (Thursday evening, January 
13th, 1813,) I was married to Miss Anna White, 
daughter of John White, Esq., (deceased,) of George- 
town District ; and on the following Monday we set 
out for Wilmington, and reached it on Friday the 
21st. We had been there but a week or two when we 
had the honor of entertaining Bishop Asbury and 
his excellent attendant, brother Boehm, who passed 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 161 

a Sabbath in Wilmington. These were our first 
guests in our first dwelling-place, the parsonage, 
which I might call either a two-story dwelling- 
house, or a shanty, according to my humor. It 
was a two-story house, actually erected in that 
fonn, and no mistake, with its first story eight feet 
high, and the second between six and seven ; 
quite high enough for a man to stand in it with 
his hat off, as men always ought to stand when in 
a house. The stories, to be sure, were not exces- 
sive as to length and breadth any more than height; 
each story constituting a room of some eighteen 
feet by twelve or fourteen, and the upper one 
having the benefit of a sort of step-ladder on the 
outside of the edifice, to render it accessible when 
it might not rain too hard, or with an umbrella 
when it did rain, if the wind did not blow too hard. 
And besides this, there was a room constructed- by 
a shed at one side of the main building, which, as 
mad^m might not relish going out of doors and up 
a step-ladder on her way to bed, especially in rainy 
weather, was appropriated to her use as a bed- 
chamber. But we were content. A palace might 
scarcely have been appreciated by us, who, by the 
grace of God, had in ourselves and each, other a 
sufficiency for happiness. This house, the church, 
(a coarse wooden structure, of some sixty feet by 
forty,) the lots they stood on, and several adjoining 
lots, rented to free negroes, had belonged to Mr. 
Meredith, and had been procured, for the most part, 

by means of penny collections among the negroes, 
U 



162 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

who almost exclusively had composed his congr^ 
gation. He had beeu a Wesleyan missionary to 
the negroes of one of the West India Islands, I 
think Jamaica or St. Kit's. And after Mr. Hammett 
came over to Charleston, and had got under way in 
his enterprise of establishing a pure Wesleyan 
Church, in opposition to the Asburyan, as he called 
it, he induced Mr. Meredith to come over also and 
join him. But he was not long satisfied with Mr. 
Hammett, whose influence over him was sufficient 
to prevent him from joining the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, but could not retain him among the 
"Primitive Methodists," as Mr. Hammett called 
his followers. And so, parting with Mr. Hammett, 
he came to Wilmington, and began preaching to 
the negroes. Here his history was very like that 
of the colored man, Henry Evans, at Fayetteville. 
He was subjected to all manner of annoyances, and 
even injuries, which he bore with unresisting meek- 
ness till he had worn his persecutors out. At one 
time he was put in jail, and he obliged them to let 
him out by preaching through the grates of his 
window to whoever might be in the street below. 
And when, after several years, things becoming 
more quiet, he ventured to build a meeting-house, 
it was burned to the ground. At last, however, 
Mr. Meredith gained the public confidence, and at 
his death willed in fee simple to Bishop Asbury a 
second meeting-house built on the site of the first, 
the parsonage-house above 4®scribed, and the landft 
belonging to them; all which, of course, the 



AUTOBIOGBAPHT. 1^ 

Bishop turned over to the Church ; which, along 
with the property, acquired also the congregation 
and communicant members. 

This case of the labors and persecutions of Mr. 
Meredith in Wilmington, like that of Henry Evans 
in Fayetteville, illustrates as strikingly as any thing 
else might which has occurred in our country, how 
sadly the spiritual wants of the negroes had been 
overlooked in early times. A numerous popula- 
tion of this class in that town and vicinity were as 
destitute of any public instruction, (or, probably, 
instruction of any kind as to spiritual things,) as 
if they had not been believed to be men at all, and 
their morals were as depraved as, with such a des- 
titution of the gospel among them, might have 
been expected ; and yet it seems not to have been 
considered that such a state of things might ftir- 
nish motives sufficient to induce pure-minded men 
to engage, at great inconvenience and even per- 
sonal hazard, in the work of reforming them. 
Such a work, on the other hand, seems to have 
been regarded unnecessary, if not unreasonable. 
Conscience was not believed to be concerned in it. 
And, unhappily, that fatal action of our General 
Conference, by which it had assumed the right of 
interfering, at least by memorial and remonstrance 
to the Legislatures, with the civil condition of the 
negroes, had aroused apprehension for the public 
safety. The opposition to Mr. Meredith is not^ 
therefore, to be wondered at, though deeply to be 
regretted ; and the fact that it ceased when the pub- 



164 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

lie mind had become satisfied of the harmlessness 
of his labors, shows that it did not proceed from 
any worse motive than an apprehension of evil. 

At the time of my going to Wilmington, Mr. 
Meredith's church and people had been transferred 
to Mr. Asbury's care, and incorporated with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church as a portion of it. 
Nevertheless, the oftence of the cross had not 
ceased. It seemed to be admitted on all hands 
that the Methodists were, on the whole, a good sort 
of enthusiasts, and their religion very well suited 
to the lower classes, who needed to be kept con- 
stantly in terror of hell-fire. For the negroes, in 
particular, it was deemed most excellent. For as 
it was looked upon as substituting passion for prin- 
ciple, and feeling for the law of God, yet so as to 
make its passion a religious one, and its feeling a 
matter of conscience, and both to be in a ferment 
of zeal against all manner of sin, it was thought 
exactly to suit those whose passions were the 
strongest and their understanding weakest. The 
negro church, or meeting-house, was a common 
appellative for this Methodist church long after it 
had been occupied by whites on the lower floor, 
with the negroes in the galleries. And it was so 
in my day. But notwithstanding all this, gentle- 
men and ladies, of high position in society, were 
to be found from Sabbath to Sabbath attending our 
preaching. Could it have been that they wanted 
to participate in the Methodist religion of passion 
without principle ? Or was it that their superior 



AtTTOBtOaRAPHT. 16A 

sort of religion having taught them to condeecend 
to men of low estate, they were only practicing the 
principle of humility? However it may have been 
with them, the sermons they heard for the whole 
year from my pulpit were taken up in stating, 
proving, and urging justification by faith, and its 
cognate doctrines of original depravity, regenera- 
tion, and the witness of the Spirit. These themes 
appeared inexhaustible to the preacher, and this 
portion of his hearers never grew less for his dwell- 
ing on them, though they wondered how such 
things could possibly be true. It cost them, how- 
ever, some disquietude, of which you may take the 
following for a sample: Mrs. G., of the first class 
of the upper sort, had become so much interested 
in what she had heard, as to seek a conversation 
with me under cover of a call on Mrs. Capers ; 
and Mrs. W., her sister, deemed it prudent to ac- 
company her, for the reason, I suppose, that she 
(Mrs. W.) held her understanding to be better than 
her sister's, and that she was better established in 
the old creed. The conversation, therefore, was 
conducted, for the most part, by Mrs. W., who 
thought it impossible for me actually to mean that 
common people could know their sins forgiven 
since the apostles* day. Statement after statement 
was made on my part, and passage upon passage 
quoted from the Scriptures, while she continued to 
reply almost in the very words of Nicodemus, 
**How can these things be?" Mrs. G., meanwhile, 
was showing pretty unmistakable symptoms of un- 



166 LtPfi OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

easiness, as if she apprehended that their unbelief 
might not be sufficient to " make the faith of God 
without effect," when, as a last resort, Mrs. W., 
turning to Mrs. Capers, said, "Well, Mrs. Capers, 
it must be a very high state of grace this which 
your husband talks about, and I dare say some very 
saintly persons may have experienced it, but as for 
us, it must be quite above our reach. I am sure 
you do not profess it, do you ?" Mrs. C. blushed 
deeply, and replied in a soft but firm tone of voice, 
" Yes, ma'am, I experienced it at Rembert's camp- 
meeting, year before last, and by the grace of God 
I still have the witness of it." And I will add, 
that if Mrs. W. felt discomfited, Mrs. G. lost not 
the benefit of that interview, but obtained the 
same grace, and died not long afterwards in the 
peace and comfort which it inspires. 

In addition to my work in Wilmington, and 
as a part of my pastoral charge, there was a meet- 
ing-house on the Sound, across the neck of land 
between Cape Fear and the sea, eight miles from 
town, which I preached at on Wednesdays. It 
was a cabin of pine poles notched into each other, 
which that saintly young minister, Richmond Pol- 
icy, had built, mostly with his own hands, when 
stationed at Wilmington, for the use (if they 
would use it) and benefit (if they would be bene- 
fited by it) of the lowest and laziest set of white 
people that it has been my fortune to fall in with. 
They had come from nobody knew where, and 
squatted in little huts about the margin of the 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 16t 

Sound, (on lands which I suppose no one cared to 
pay taxes for, and not an acre of which they meant 
to cultivate,) for the benefit of living without 
labor, or as nearly so as possible. And their mode 
of subsistence was by catching fish, which they 
took with a seine once or twice a week, and taking 
them to market, purchased, by the sale of them, 
bacon, meal, and whisky, or rather, whisky, 
meal, and bacon. I generally found them, if I 
found them at all, basking in the sun, or lounging 
in the shade; and such as I could induce to go 
with me to the meeting-house constituted my con- 
gregations. I could do nothing for them ; but 
though I still eked out the time of serving them, I 
did not return them to the Conference as belonging 
to our charge. 

Such were the extremes of character and con- 
dition with which I had to do. Of my flock in 
town, while much the greater number were negroes, 
the whites were very poor, or barely able to sup- 
port themselves with decency. Here, too, none of 
the wise men after the flesh, nor mighty, nor noble 
were called. Indeed, of the men of this class, I 
know not that there was one, and believe that if 
one, there was but one, who belonged to any Church 
at all as a communicant. They were, very gene- 
rally at least, too much tinctured with the French 
deistical philosophy for that. Of churches in the 
town, claiming for mine to be one, there was but 
one other, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of 
which the Rev. Adam Empie was rector. Com- 



168 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

paring numbers between the churches as to white 
members communing in each. I had the advantage 
of Mr. (since Dr.) Empie; having some ten or a 
dozen males to his doubtful onej while the females 
may have been about equally divided as to num- 
bers ; giving him, however, and his Church, the 
prestige of worldly wealth and honor. For support, 
as far as any was to be had, I was dependent mainly 
on my colored charge, whose class collections, 
added to the collection which was made in the 
congregation weekly, may have produced six or 
seven dollars a week for all purposes. I had not 
expected such a deficiency, and was not provided 
against it; and before I could command means 
from .home, my very last penny was expended. 
What small things may prove important to us, and 
incidents of little moment in themselves, interest 
us deeply by their connections. Here was one. 
It happened that I had carried to market and ex- 
pended for a fish, (because it was the cheapest 
food,) the la6t penny I possessed. And this was 
on the morning of the day when I should expect 
the Presiding Elder on his first quarterly round ; 
and that Presiding Elder was Daniel Asbury, who 
had sustained the same relation to me during my 
first two years, and was beloved and honored next 
to brother Gassaway. And there was no place for 
him but the parsonage ; or if there was for himself, 
there was not for his horse. In such circumstances 
nothing might seem easier than to meet the emer- 
gency by borrowing. But should I go to a bank 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 169 

to borrow so little as a dollar or two ? And of my 
flock I feared to ask a loan of so much^ lest it 
should be more than my brother could spare, and 
for the pain it should give him should he not be 
able to oblige me in so small a matter and so great 
a need ; and as the least of the evils before me, I 
concluded to await my friend's coming, and borrow 
from himself what might be needed during his 
stay. He came in time for a share of the fish at 
dinner, but before it had been produced paid me 
two hundred dollars which had been sent, very 
unexpectedly, by him for my use. If it had been 
but two dollars, I cannot tell the value I should 
have put upon it ; but to receive two hundred dol- 
lars just at that juncture, mad« me rich indeed. 

In the month of June T suffered an extreme 
illness of bilious fever, insomuch that my life was 
well-nigh despaired of; and as soon as I could get 
into a carriage and ride to the wharf, my physician 
sent me to Smithville to facilitate convalescence. 
You will remember that this was during the war 
with Great Britain ; and a few days after we had 
arrived at Smithville, the news was brought of 
the enemy having landed at Ocraeock and per- 
petrated many outrages. The facts truly stated 
were bad enough to excite alarm, as we had rea- 
son to expect that Wilmington would be the next 
point of attack ; or Smithville rather, on the way 
to Wilmington; but as the story was told with 
great exaggerations, nothing might be more terri- 
fying than this intelligence was. We therefore 
8 



/ 

/ 



t' 



170 LIFE OP WILLIAMCAPERS. 

took the first packet for our return to Wilmington^ 
intending to place Mrs. Oapers for safety with our 
friends, Francis A. AUston and sisters, on Town 
creek, ten miles off from Wilmington, and nearly 
as far from the Cape Fear river. Having done 
this, my purpose was to return immediately to 
Wilmington, to meet with my people whatever 
might come. No time was lost in the execution of 
my plan as far as respected Mrs. Gapers ; but the 
weather was wet, and the night of our arrival at 
brother AUston's, the next day, and following 
night, gave us such a flood of rain as had not been 
known for several years. On the second day I set 
out for Wilmington, and getting to the South 
Ferry, learned that the freshet had carried away so 
much of the causeway between that place and 
town, that a horse could not be got over it, and 
the only practicable way of going would be on 
foot. The distance to the Worth Ferry (at town) 
was two miles, all under water, and much of it 
knee-deep, or more, besides the liability of falling 
between the loosened or removed puncheons, and 
getting wet all over. The day was hot, and it was 
noon, with the sun beaming forth without a cloud ; 
nor was there tree or shrub for shade. I sent my 
horse back, and undertook it. A fever came on 
before I had gone far, and I suffered a burning 
thirst. To drink the water of the swamp I was 
afraid ; but, luckily for me, my kind friends had 
given me a bottle of a strong decoction of cherry 
bark, dogwood, and hoarhound, for me to take 



AtrTOBIOaRAPHT. 171 

by the wineglassful as a tonic; and bitter as it 
was I drank it up, applying the bottle to my 
lips, of very thirst. I got to the house of sister 
Howe, in Wilmington, and to bed ; sweated off 
my fever, and had no more of it. The British 
never came. 

Can you now have patience for another witch 
story ? There were two old negro women belong- 
ing to the Church in Wilmington, (Clarinda and 
Lucy,) who had been held in high esteem from the 
beginning ; and, indeed, except for this witchcraft 
affair, deserved the reputation of being as good 
as the best of our colored members. But Cla- 
rinda fell under a persuasion that Lucy was a 
witch, and had such proofs of it as poor old Lucy 
could not disprove. The question between them 
was of long standing, as to the general charge, 
and the specifications numerous: of which, such 
as had transpired more than a year before had 
been adjudicated by my predecessor; who gave 
sentence that there was no such thing as witch or 
witchcraft, and that Clarinda must renounce her 
superstition, and become reconciled to her sister, 
or be excluded the Church. But this -summary 
process did not answer. The old sore ^'remained 
unhealed, and soon broke out afresh ; so that Lucy 
still lay under the imputation of being a witch. 
Clarinda charged against her, that on the day of 
trial, there in presence of the preacher, Lucy had 
abused her triumph by bewitching her. And the 
specification was, that when, doing as she had been 



172 LIFE OB* WltititAM OAPERS. 

required to do, she (Clarinda) gave her hand to 
Lucy, she, (Lucy,) by the power of her art, which 
no Christian could exercise, caused the hand which 
she held in hers to itch and burn unnaturally; 
and caused this itching and burning to extend to 
all her limbs, and break out in frightful sores, the 
scars of which she still carried. All which, Lucy, 
of course, denied stoutly. And now what was the 
preacher to do with such a case ? To reaffirm with 
my predecessor that the charge was absurd, could 
be of no avail, for Clarinda*s protest of " What I 
feel I feel, for all my preacher say there a*n*t no 
witch,** deserved some consideration. It was con- 
ceded that if Lucy had bewitched Clarinda, she 
must of consequence be a witch ; and that if she 
was a witch she could not be a Christian. All 
that was plains But I instituted a new question, 
which was, whether if Clarinda was indeed a 
Christian, and no mistake, it might be possible 
for her to be witched by Lucy, or any one else who 
should attempt it? Would Clarinda consent for 
the Bible to answer this question ? Of course she 
would ; she might not desire any thing else. And 
I read from the Bible as its answer, Numbers 
xxxiii. 23, *^ Surely there is no enchantment against 
Jacob, neither is there any divination against 
Israel.'* This was a point in the case that altered 
the case, and turned the force of the protest, 
("what I feel I feel,**) as strongly against Clarinda 
as against Lucy. And now, from one and the 
other, I required to know particularly on what 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 173 

grounds their profession of belonging to Jacob 
rested. Eacli told her experience at length, while 
E listened with close attention. " Can you both be 
deceived?*' said I, "for if one is, the other may be." 
And turning to the complainant, I asked with em- 
phasis, " Clarinda, are you right sure that you are 
a Christian ?" She was deeply troubled, but an- 
swered in the affirmative. " How then," I rejoined, 
"was it possible for Lucy to witch you?" She 
seemed utterly confounded ; and I relieved her by 
reading Job ii. 1-8, and by remarking briefly on 
it, to the effect, that what witches could not do, 
Satan might, and he might possibly have had power 
to afflict her as she had been afflicted ; and may 
have done it at the very time specified, for the pur- 
pose of producing the mischief which had come of 
it. The spell was now broken. They embraced 
each other, and remained for the rest of their lives 
in peace together. It is better to condescend to 
the weakness of others, than attempt their correc- 
tion by main strength. Nor is it an act of great 
condescension to suffer a weakness, where there is 
evident goodness in the weak brother. 

I had great satisfaction in my labors among this 
class of my people. The Church planted among 
them by Mr. Meredith in troublous times had been 
well disciplined, and furnished our leaders and 
principal members at present, who exerted a salu- 
tary influence on the younger, both by their good 
example in all things, and their zealous exhorta- 
tions. The preacher thej^ regarded as their best 



174 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

friend, whose counsel they should follow as from 
God. Trials were rare; and there was a constant 
increase of numbers. And I say in sincerity, that 
I believe I have never served a more Christian- 
hearted people, unless those were so with whom I 
was associated at the same time among the whites. 
Among these, (the whites,) I have no recollection 
of a single trial, nor cause for one, during the year. 
And whilst offences were avoided, our seasons of 
Christian fellowship, in the prayer-meetings, the 
class-meetings, the love-feast, were appreciated as 
they should be by the whole society, and were very 
refreshing. Of the people of the community I re- 
ceived nothing worse than marks of respect. De- 
traction had lost it« tongue. The negro meeting- 
house was become the Methodist church, and the 
stories about what the Methodists believed, and how 
they managed their secret meetings, seemed to be 
forgotten. But what was more interesting to me, 
my earnest reasonings from Scripture began to be 
followed with fruit among the upper circle, of whom 
several were fuUv convinced of the truth, and were 
seeking to be justified by faith without the works 
of the law. The way was thus prepared for my 
successor, (the Rev. Samuel K. Hodges,) who reaped 
more than a golden harvest. 

I have to conclude this Conference year (for the 
calendar year was out) with one of those adventures 
which I have never looked back upon without a 
shudder. I will relate it in the barest statement 
of the faetSjt and if they make m^ to have been a 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. |.7{» 

fool or madman, very well ; I can only say I was 
young, and none of the older persons who were 
cognizant of the facts said nay, at the time. Con- 
ference this year came late, heing held in January 
instead of December, the usual Conference month. 
The place of its session was FayetteviUe, eighty 
miles above "Wilmington. I could not attend it, 
because of Mrs. Capers expecting to be confined at 
that very time. But the time was come ; the Con- 
ference session was over; and in three days more 
Bishop Asbury and one or two others would be 
with us in that shanty parsonage, to pass several 
days on the Bishop's annual visitation. Besides, 
there would probably come with the Bishop the 
preacher of the opening year, whose would then be 
the right of occupancy. We must leave the par- 
sonage. To add to my perplexity, all the ready 
money at my command had been reduced to a mere 
trifle, absolutely insufficient to pay board anywhere 
for the time before us ; not to mention a particular 
fee of twenty dollars ; and my father's estate having 
gone into the hands of an indiflferent person for its 
management, nothing could be commanded from 
that quarter ; and to cap it all, there was not one 
of our friends belonging to the Church in Wilming- 
ton who could bear the burden of accommodating 
us. In this condition of things, as we were sitting 
at breakfast, more gay than sad under it all, having 
our good friend, sister Barrett, with us, (since better 
known in Wilmington as both a person of great 
worth and usefulness,) I bantered her to carry Amx^ 



176 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APEB8. 

home to her mother. " That I will," she answered, 
"if you will go with us." The jest was carried on 
between as by fixing stages on the road at conve- 
nient distances, where, at the worst, it would be as 
well for Mrs. Capers as at the parsonage, till we 
talked ourselves into a serious meaning of what we 
said. Arrangements were instantly made, and that 
night we were at the house of our friends Allston, 
ten miles from Wilmington. The house of our 
friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Gause, on Shallot, 
thirty miles farther on, over a smooth road, was to 
be the next stage, if we made another. At either 
of these places we should be in clover, and might 
be sure of a hearty welcome for any length of time. 
At brother Allston's, (Mrs. Capers appearing ex- 
ceeding well in the morning and inclined to it,) we 
concluded to set out for brother Gause's ; reached 
there about 5 o'clock ; and at 10,1 was a father. 
It was on the 18th January, 1814 ; and the child 
then born under circumstances so peculiarly trying 
and specially providential, has, thus far, been par- 
ticularly favored through life, having enjoyed almost 
entire exemption from disease, and given birth to 
nine children, of whom eight are living at this date, 
(1851.) I happen to pen this in an apartment of 
the Wesleyan Female College, at Macon, Georgia, 
of which her husband has been president for the 
last ten years. 

My appointment for 1814 was Santee Circuit; 
and after Mrs. Capers had perfectly recovered, and 
it was safe beyond doubt for her to take the road 



"'"•» '»••• Moi " 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 177 

again, we took leave of our most kind friends at 
Shallot, and went to her mother's ; where leaving 
her till I should have made a round on my circuit, 
I went to my w^ork. You will remember that this 
was the circuit in which our family lived. My 
honored father was no more. My brother-in-law, 
Maj. Legrand Guerry, and my uncle, Capt. George 
S. Capers, and my aunt his wife, had also passed to 
their heavenly rest. My uncle was the first, having 
died in 1809; my brother-in-law followed in 1811; 
my father in 1812 ; and my aunt in 1813. And 
what a vacuum was here! But meanwhile my 
brother Gabriel (who had married the daughter of 
the Rev. Thomas Humphries, my old friend of Jef- 
fers' creek, in Darlington District) was settled atLo- 
debar, in the neighborhood of my sister ; who had 
now married a second husband, the Rev. Thomas D. 
Glenn ; and our venerable friend, the Rev. Thomas 
Humphries, had been induced to remove his resi- 
dence into the same neighborhood also. There 
was, therefore, still a great, interest for us in that 
neighborhood ; and it was arranged for Mrs. 
Capers to divide her time with my brother and 
sister, during our continuance in the circuit. Cir- 
cumstanced as I was, there was no other appoint- 
ment in the Conference so convenient as this, and 
no other so desirable ; but of my work I have no 
more to say, than that, from the tinie of getting to 
it, the appointments were regularly filled without 
exception through the year, the attendance on 

preaching and at class was good, and we had an- 
12 



178 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

other good camp-meeting at the old place, Rem- 
bert's. Good was done, perhaps much good, but 
every thing went on so uniformly as to furnish 
nothing for a recollection at the present date. Ne- 
vertheless, it was an eventful year to me — perhaps 
no other one more so. It was my second year of 
married life in the Methodist itinerancy. The ex- 
periment of such a mode of life seemed fully made, 
by the last year spent as a stationed preacher, occu- 
pying one of the three parsonage-houses belonging 
to the Conference ; and now this year which I was 
spending on a circuit, the circuit at home, with my 
wife and child staying alternately with my brother 
and sister. At least, there was no other more favor- 
able experiment that might have been made for 
these two years, and no other practicable for the 
future. And what was I to make of it ? In Wil- 
mington, with my wife alone, it had cost me three 
hundred dollars to procure subsistence of the most 
frugal kind ; a sum of between one hundred and 
fifty and two hundred dollars having been all that 
the collections could furnish for all purposes above 
what was necessary for keeping the church open 
and in order. In the circuit, (any circuit,) I might 
receive eighty dollars for myself, eighty dollars for 
my wife, my travelling expenses, (which were then 
understood to take in little more than the cost of 
horse-shoeing and ferriage,) and no more. It had 
been ascertained that my father's removal, and 
change of his planting interest from rice to cotton, 
just before the embargo and war, had seriously in- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 179 

volved his estate, which might be barely sufficient 
for his widow and three little sons by her; and we, 
of the first marriage, must be content with sharing 
among us a legacy from our grandfather Singel- 
tary, for our patrimony, except only, on my part, a 
small farm which my father had given me in anti- 
cipation of my marriage. 

I was not avaricious. I hope I never have been. 
For myself, any thing might answer, if I was not, 
even emulous of excelling in ascetic virtue. But 
there were two things which I could not brook : 
the exposure of my wife to hardships, was one ; 
and to be made dependent on individuals who 
might regard me burdensome, was the other. And 
while for the present year we were not involved in 
either of these evils, but were as happily situated 
as we could desire with those who loved us as them- 
selves, it was plain that there was no next appoint- 
ment for us which might not involve us in them. 
The general policy of the Church, sustained by the 
opinion of a majority of the preachers and people, 
was against the preachers' marrying, and therefore 
against any provision for the support of preachers* 
families which might encourage their marrying. 
For a preacher to take a family about from circuit 
to circuit was out of the question, except he should 
board them at his own expense, or place them (as 
for the present year I had done) with particular 
friends living in the circuit. No circuit would 
make any provision for them, and the Discipliut/ 
required none to be made. The few who had wivee 



180 LIFE OF' IriliLlAM d AIDERS. 

had botees iot thetn, stnd I too must have a hotae 
for ray wife, of necessity. But there appeared no 
way for me to procure such a home without locat- 
ing. My farm was unsettled, and to settle it tiiust 
require tny presence. And besides that, it would 
require money ; which I had not, and which I might 
not obtain by the sale of property, for the reason 
that I had none which I might sell without dimin- 
ishing a barely sufficient force for farming at all. 
It must be borrowed ; and then it would require 
my personal exertions* to pay it back again^ With 
these views, I applied for a location, and was located 
at the Conference in Charleston, December, 1814, 
after having travelled but six years. 

Thus I became involved in the cares of this life. 
My ^hole plan was, immediately to go to work to 
settle my farm in an humble but comfortable man^ 
ner, and make a crop of provisions ; and as soon 
as I should get ready, take into my family a few 
boys, (not more than eight or ten,) to be educated 
at a certain price. And as I apprehend it may be 
thought that I was, at least in part, influenced by 
my wife to this great change of employmefit, to 
whom, it may naturally be supposed, the itinerancy 
was not so pleasant as a settled mode of life might 
be, I will take occasion to say at once that it was 
not so. 'So^ if I had been advised by her, I had 
never left the work to which we both believed I 
had been called. She doubted, she hesitated, she 
objected to it from the first moment that I intro- 
duced the subject to her. Nevet did she utter a 



AUTOBIOGEAPHf. 19$, 

word nor make a sign in favoF of it^ but ag^iusl: it ; 
i^nd at last sjbie yielded witb extreme relupt^^n^e, 
saying, " If you are clear in your mind^ you must; 
do it, but I fear you will do it too rjfiucb on my 
account.** Angelic woman! Had she known it 
was the hearse to bear her to an early grave, gnd 
h^d I known it, the sides of the pontroversy had 
been changed. It was as she suspected. There 
were indeed strong reasons for my course, as we 
h^v^ seen, but there was a stronger one underlying 
them all, which I woul,d fain have hid even from 
myself, and that was the pain of being absent from 
her. What a deception was this ! And yet whai 
honesty might be so severe as to be proof .agaijqist 
it? Had the temptation been pj:eaente<i m some 
other form, had it concerned somebody elsre, so]a^ 
other interest than the pulse of life, it had jne- 
sulted dijSerently, I think. Why might I not have 
anticipated the change which even then wjus ready 
to be begun in the economy of the Church ? Why 
w^ I not wise enough to know, not only that such 
H change was wanted, but that, on the principle of 
our progresiS, it was indispensable, and must v#ry 
soon take place ? Why not have seen that I was 
called to sustain my part in this necessary ch^^ngje 
of policy in the Church ? But there was something 
that kept me from seeing, and I was blind. 

Having located, I applied myself moat assiduosfcsly 
tQ the work beforie me. I had fields enclosed, biaj 
W hwae* eiscept ^ em^ kitchep, g, »ea*^haj^e, A 



182 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

barn, and a stable, which had been put up for me by 
my father. First to build a house of four small rooms 
and a piazza, and prepare the grounds for planting, 
was my object. Oats came first for the field-work, 
(four or five acres,) then corn, (some twenty-five or 
thirty acres,) then potatoes, (an acre or two,) and last, 
a patch of rice. Two good horses were suflicient. 
I bought a cow, and when the grass sprang, another; 
at first two sows, and afterwards others. The 
house ready for occupancy, I became too much in- 
terested in the field to be only a manager, and 
betook myself to the plough ; which having done, 
T must prosecute it diligently for example's sake. 
The manner of the farm was, to take the horses to 
the plough before sunrise, and work till the cook's 
horn called us to breakfast; then prayers and 
breakfast, having the horses meanwhile in the 
stable, where there was always food for them ; then 
to the plough again till the same horn called us to 
dinner; then, after the hour at dinner for man and 
horse, to the plough till after sunset. I had never 
done an hour's work in a field in my life when I 
began to do this ; and was there ever a severer ex- 
ercise for one who never held a plough before ? At 
first, I ploughed all day, and at night had fever ; 
then I ploughed all day, and had no fever; and 
after some few weeks, I had rather plough than not ; 
so that I have never been able to pity a ploughman 
since. Every thing kept in good condition about 
me, and in the fall of the year there were provisions 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 188 

enough made for the year ensuing, and pigs and 
poultry a plenty, in view of the expected large fam- 
ily I was to have. 

I preached every Sabbath, and heard of no fault- 
finding, though I was conscious in myself that 
there may have been cause for it. On the principle 
of the adage, that where you lend your ear you 
give your mind, I had become too much engrossed 
with secular things through the week to be very 
spiritual on Sunday. And I was conscious, too, 
that whereas I had located to meet a necessity, only 
cill that necessity should have been ihet, feeling 
that spiritual and not temporal things constituted 
my vocation, and that the latter should be subor- 
dinate to the former, I was losing by imperceptible 
degrees my former clearness of perception of the 
paramount obligation of a minister to his ministry, 
and the quickness of feeling proper to it, just in 
proportion as I felt the cares of husbandry and 
had my thoughts taken up with temporal concerns. 
Temporal things were stealthily gaining in im- 
portance, if things spiritual were not declining; 
and the duties of husband and father for this life 
were getting to be considered too much apart from 
their indispensable connection with the life to 
come, and God's blessing for both worlds. Thus 
it was with me when, on the 30th of December, 
1815, at 6 o'clock P. M., my first son was born, and 
at 10 o'clock the idol of my heart expired ! That 
morning I had seen her the perfection of beauty, 
the loveliest of her sex ; and contemplated her as 



184 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAP^ES. 

the first of women, the pride and joy of my life. 
And now, at night, something had gone wrong, I 
knew not what, ai^d before there might have been 
time for alarm, she was no more. I cannot dwell 
upon it, but I owe her something who was my wife, 
whose surpassing beauty stood not in her husband's 
eye, but was acknowledged by all her acquaintances ; 
whose whole life had been passed without a reproof 
from father, mother, or friend ; whose nature was 
gentleness and love to a degree not to be exceeded ; 
whose naodesty was so perfect as never to bear, even 
from myself in private, a word expressing admira- 
tion of her personal beauty, without a blush to 
crimson her cheek ; whose faith in Christ was sim- 
ple, sincere, and consistent ; whose piety kept her 
in the love of God continually, so as always to 
enjoy the hope of the gospel and the reason of it ; 
and who, with all her loveliness, was mine, as 
completely as the purest and strongest affection 
could make her so. Nor was she only to be ad- 
mired and loved for her beauty and her sweetness : 
gentle as she was, she had a noble courage, which 
1 several times saw proved : as when we were at 
Smithville, and the British were expected, at Wil- 
mington, with those desperate chances of the road 
before us ; and even here in our out-of-the-way re- 
tirement. Nor was she one of those charming 
ones who seem to think themselves too charming to 
h^ useful. No one required less on her own account 
than my sainted Anna, while few might boast of a 
readier mind or more efficient will for the service of 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. ISA 

her friends. And whatever she did she did well : her 
spirit was active, taking hold on every thing about 
her to purpose, and managing well all her house- 
hold affairs. 

Bishop Asbury and Bishop McKendree had both 
been expected to attend the Conference at Charlea- 
ton in December, 1815; but the latter only was 
enabled to attend it; Bishop Asbury, sinking un- 
der his infirmities, and almost at his end, having 
been obliged to lie by on the road. He was now 
(January, 1816) aiming for Baltimore, with but 
little hope of eking out life till the session of thje 
General Conference in that city; and as he passed 
through Rembert's neighborhood I saw him, and, 
with a bleeding heart, asked him for a circuit. A 
circuit, any circuit, would now have been a boon. 
^*I am a dying man,'* replied the Bishop, "or I 
would give you one. I shall never see another 
Conference in Carolina. Ton had better wait for 
your Qugrrterly Conference to recommend you to a 
Presiding Elder.'* It was a sore disappointment, 
but there was no alternative. 

During the year 1814, my brother John had pur- 
chased th« place of my father's last residence, (ad- 
joining which was the farm I have been speaking 
of,) and was living at it. This circumstance had 
contributed no little to our satisfaction during the 
year which had now closed with death and dark- 
ness ; and, in view of my instantly returning to the 
itinerancy, it offered a relief for some perplexity J 
felt as to the best and kindest disposition iu mf 



186 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

power to make of the few negroes I had been farm- 
ing with. And it was concluded between us that, 
as the whole concern put under the management 
of a hired overseer was not sufficient to insure any 
considerable income, and might be abused, I would 
leave the negroes to themselves, with stock and 
provisions sufficient for their use, and that he would 
visit them often enough to give advice on any mat- 
ter of interest to them. This arrangement was 
made in the month of January. They had corn 
enough for all purposes, and more than I had con- 
sumed the year before, two good milch cows, my 
best farm-horse and all utensils for the field, as 
much bacon as weighed two hundred and fifty 
pounds to each of the adults and half as much to 
each child, and several sows with young pigs, be- 
side a number of shoats. I was sure that with the 
same provisions, properly husbanded, twice the 
number of persons might be fully fed. They 
planted twenty acres of corn and ten or eleven of 
cotton. Of the cotton, never a pod was picked, 
for the reaaon that none was produced. Of the 
corn, they gathered in October about half as much 
as I had left them in January. The cows and 
calves were dead, so were the sows and shoats and 
pigs, except some seven or eight left from the spring 
litters, which were barely l.ving. So that I esti- 
mated my loss by the experiment of the year, at 
about as much as it had cost me the year before to 
get the place settled. I never saw them till in 
October I went to see what they had produced. 



AtJTOBIOGRAPHY. 187 

But before this result was known, or had been 
anticipated, I found myself embarrassed from an- 
other quarter. The surplus produce sold in Jan- 
uary, including some stock, left me still owing 
several hundred dollars. This my brother John 
proffered kindly to assume the payment of; but 
for some cause, I know not what, my creditors de- 
clined it, and insisted on retaining my notes. It 
seemed a little curious, that the same principle 
of abiding contracts, which had kept me to my 
circuit rounds under the temptations of 1809, 
should now forbid my going to a circuit in 1816. 
But so it was. I had to be just in the first place, 
and pay my debts, lest my good should be evil 
spoken of, and my zeal for religion be made an 
occasion, by any one, of reproaching it. During 
some six weeks that I was in Georgetown as a 
supply for the stationed preacher, who had gone 
to the General Conference at Baltimore, I re- 
ceived dun upon dun ; evidently from an appre- 
hension that I had gone to a business in which 
nothing could be made for the payment of debts. 

I might have mentioned in my notices of the 
last year, (1816,) that although my plans were laid 
with a view only to the year ensuing as regarded 
teaching, I was induced to take charge of the 
two eldest sons of my friend, William Johnson, 
Esq., of Santee, who continued with us from early 
in July till the Christmas holidays. The sad cause 
which prevented others from coming at the present 
date, (January, 1816,) had also prevented the re- 



188 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAFEftd. 

pam o£ those, as it was understood that the 46ath 
x4 my wife had broken up my plans. But while I 
was in Georgetown this spring, as above stated, I 
was solicited by a brother-in-law of Mr, Johnson, 
Robert F. Withers, Esq., (who then passed his 
summ=er8 in the neighborhood of Statesburg,) to 
pass tke summer with him and teach bis children, 
for which I should receive a liberal salary ; for 
SfO I considered a hundred dollars a month to be, 
with board and keeping my horse, and liberty to 
visit my children at will. 

But before I go to Mr. Withers, let me return 
to Mr. Johnson. As soon as he had heard that I 
was in Georgetown, he sent a letter of condolence 
with a request for me to visit him, and let him 
know when it might be eonvenient for me to come, 
that he might send for me. I was received with 
tears by all the family, and my dear boys Andrew 
and Pinckney wept as if they had lost a mother. 
In the morning Mr. Johnson proposed a walk, and 
opened in the most delicate manner possible the 
object of it as soon as we were alone together. He 
thought I must have incurred expenses in the last 
year looking to the income of the present, which 
might be inconvenient to me. He had a consider- 
able sum of money in the hands of his factor which 
he did not need for any present use ; and he would 
be the obliged person if I would allow him to ad- 
vance me any sum. He spoke of Mrs. Capers, her 
aiEeotionate kindness to his sons, their love for her^ 
#ke mournful interest which the &mily felt for m«, 



AtTTOBIOeilAPHT. 1819 

and mentioned a tbonsand dollars as the least be 
tbotjght I might require on account of the last 
year, and which he was to be the obliged persoft 
by advancing. I consented to three hundred. 
And I will ofily add that when, a year or more after- 
wards, I was ready to repay it, he begged to be 
eiccused, assuring me that he had accepted a note 
only to relieve my feelings at the time, but had torn 
the name off before putting it in his desk, and was 
still very sorry that I had not consented to accept 
a thousand dollars instead of three hundred. Not 
a dollar would he have ; and it was plain that I 
had not thought well enough of mankind to sup- 
pose there might be a William Johnson among my 
acquaintances. 

In June I entered on the duties of ray engage- 
ment with Mr. Withers, on the Hills, near States- 
burg. His seat was about ten miles from my 
sister's, where were my two infant children, Anna 
and Theodotus. My most kind and faithful sister 
had been with us several days at the time of the 
death of my beloved wife, and had taken the child- 
ren home with her as their foster-mother ; and well 
did she fulfil a mother's part by them. Here with 
my sister and children I usually passed two days in 
seven ; the rest of my time being devoted to the 
instruction of the Misses Withers, Sarah, Anslie, 
and Charlotte, fourteen, twelve, and ten years old ; 
and lovely pupils were they. 

If I had been as oonsidefrate of public prejudice 
{(ontf perhaps, opinion) as I might have been at the 



190 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

age of twenty-six, I should not have to state that 
at* the expiration of the term of my engagement 
with Mr. Withers, I was married to Miss Susan 
McGill, my present wife. This was on the 31st of 
October. I believe, indeed, that I have always 
had a right appreciation of the duty one owes 
to public sentiment ; and if the early date of my 
second marriage be not an exception, I have been 
scrupulously observant of it all through life. What 
is called popularity is another thing. Since I was 
converted, I have classed that with its fellows of 
'*the abominations of the Egyptians;'* and my 
observations on men, both of the Church and the 
State, have gone strongly to the conclusion that it 
is an "abomination of desolation,** and that 
whether it may be called Roman or Egyptian, it 
cannot consist with Christian principle. The man 
who would make himself popular, stoops and 
crouches to just that degree. He puts himself in 
a posture for any thing, and to go in any direction ; 
a chameleon of any color, a fawning spaniel or a 
barking cur, just as may suit the time. He may 
be a feather in the wind, or a tennis-ball tossed 
by a child* s hand ; but he has lost the form of a 
man when he has made popularity his principle. 
Not so as to the respect of the individual for public 
sentiment; that is, the common judgment of 
society as to the proprieties of life and conduct 
Popularity works against society ; this feeling oi 
respect for public sentiment works for it. Thii 
proceeds from a feeling of the responsibility pro 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 191 

per for the individual towards the community: 
that affects to honor the community for individual 
advantage, and exalts self-interest above the gen- 
eral good. The one is a generous virtue, and the 
other just the opposite. If the opinion were true 
which I have heard expressed, that a second wife 
is a supplanter, and in contracting a second mar- 
riage one forgets the former wife, or loses his 
affection for her, transferring it to the supplanter ; 
or if only that to marry a second wife implies such 
an interference with the affections as is incon- 
sistent with the most tenderly cherished love and 
affection for the dead, I could never have been 
married a second time, nor could ten years have 
prepared me for the unnatural revulsion. I did 
not believe so, nor did I feel so. It was alike 
natural and sincere for me to weep for the dead or 
solicit a living wife ; and the woman should have 
had not my affection but abhorrence who should 
have come to my arms as a supplanter. Anna was 
enshrined in my heart never to be dispossessed ; and 
the wife I solicited was not to dispute her title to 
her burying-place. And yet, I repeat, I solicited 
the hand of Miss McGill as sincerely as I had done 
that of Miss White ; and I loved to talk of my dear 
Anna to her. I loved to tell her how she must 
have loved to know her, as her own soul's sister; 
as I have since told her how I shall love to intro- 
duce them when we meet together in heaven. 
Nature's secrets are not to be disclosed in words ; 
but so simple was my heart, so sincere my con- 



192 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

duct, that one of my first cares after my second 
marriage was to introduce Mrs. Capers to my 
mother, (Anna's mother,) as her daughter. I knew 
she could never doubt my love for the deceased, 
and she herself had been married a second time. 

I could not yet be ready for the itinerancy, but 
must be occupied for another year at least with tem- 
poral things, if only to fetch up the losses of the 
blind experiment I had made of having my negroes 
to provide for themselves by farming. My loca- 
tion was Georgetown, with a rented house at 
North Island for the summer; my employment, 
teaching a school. And thus commenced the year 
1817. 

Susan McGill (my present wife) was the daugh- 
ter of William and Ann McGill, of Kershaw Dis- 
trict, South Carolina. Her father was from Ireland, 
and when she was about eight years old, he was 
induced to remove to Georgia. The place they 
lighted on was exceedingly sickly, and the family 
suffered much by sickness, Mr. McGill not less 
than the others, and perhaps more. By this 
means, and the unfaithfulness of one of those 
double-eyed friends, who are never to be trusted, 
after a few years he lost pretty much what pro- 
perty he had had, and returned to Carolina, where, 
at least, he had some friends left. His near neigh- 
bor, a Mr. Turley, left him, in his will, a small 
farm in a healthy portion of Kershaw District. 
Leaving his family for a time in charge of his 
j^ldest son, at a farm near Columbia, belonging to 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 198 

General Horry, he visited the farm in Kershaw Dis- 
trict, and prepared to move his family thither. 
During his absence his eldest son, Samuel, obtain- 
ed a situation in the upper part of Columbia, called 
Cotton Town. His kind and obliging manners 
made him many friends: among the ladies was 
Mrs. Horry. After the death of her husband, (Gen- 
eral Horry,) her attachment to Samuel induced a 
request from her to his parents to spend the winter 
with her in Georgetown. The friendship of this 
excellent lady grew into attachment, and resulted 
in his eldest sister, Susan, becoming a member of 
her family. Samuel died early after his sister's 
marriage, and was a spirited, promising young man. 
William, after receiving a thorough training for 
business, (at the house of Messrs. McDowell and 
Black, in Charleston,) and making something clever 
on his own account, removed at a later period to 
Alabama, with his mother, (his father being dead,) 
several sisters, and a younger brother named James. 
I saw him some seven years ago at Tuskaloosa, 
where he was at that time a member of the Legis- 
lature, and still had the care of his sisters, his 
mother being dead. It was at Mrs. Horry's that 
I became acquainted with Miss McGill, and at her 
house we were married ; for she had become as a 
daughter to her benefactress, who had never had 
a child of her own ;. and had been so regarded for 
several years. 

Our friend resided in Columbia for the summer 
and fall, and in Georgetown for the winter and 
13 



194 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

spring, having her estate on Winyaw Bay. And 
in anticipation of our going to Georgetown, she 
had arranged that we should occupy her house, and 
be furnished with provisions from her plantation, 
at will. But, except for a few weeks, I availed 
myself of neither. The house was too remote 
for a school, and it was not to my taste to order 
any thing in her absence from her plantation. She 
chided me kindly for this, and said she ascribed it 
to my not understanding her intentions towards 
my wife. It was the only time we had any conver- 
sation about property. She had several times hinted 
at it before, and I had as often evaded her; but 
now she told me plainly, that the instrument which 
she had had drawn up after the death of her hus- 
band, and when Susan had but just come into her 
family, was not to be her will. She had a pre- 
judice against making wills, or she would have 
made another long before then. The plantation 
which I was too delicate to order a bushel of rice 
from, was to be mine, and a number of the negroes 
mine, except a token of affection for one who had 
been long in her family as a daughter, but for 
whom ample provision had already been made by 
General Horry; and a hundred dollars a year to 
an orphan girl till she should be married. There^ 
however, still lay the repudiated will in the drawer, 
which had been so long made, and now so decided- 
ly renounced, and which, as little as she may have 
thought of it, was to be her will at last. She had 
been not many weeks in Georgetown, when she was 



AUTOBIOaRAPHY. 195 

taken sick. Her physician called it rheumatism, 
and told her friends that little was the matter, 
more than rheumatism in connection with a cold. 
Mrs. Capers visited her every day, and every day 
heard the story about rheumatism. I grew uneasy, 
and went to see her — doubted her physician's 
judgment, and proposed that she should be re- 
moved to my house; as if barely for a pleasant 
change, but meaning to employ another physician. 
She was removed. Another physician was called 
immediately, for she was extremely ill. He pro- 
nounced the case hopeless, and she died in a few 
days. The second physician was Dr. John Wragg, 
a nephew of my second mother; and suspecting 
something, probably, he asked me at the first 
moment we were alone after seeing her, if she had 
a will, or wished to alter one ; and on being told 
how the matter was, urged me instantly to send for 
a lawyer. But it could not be. She had been 
trifled with to within two hours of her conscious- 
ness in life, and I owed her too much to take up 
those two hours at the threshold of eternity with a 
lawyer ; and I owed myself too much to allow a 
suspicion to attach to me that I had brought her 
to my house in a dying condition to filch her pro- 
perty. When her situation was made known to 
her, the vsdll came first to her mind. But I was 
at her bedside for another purpose, and claimed 
her thoughts for Christ and his salvation; and 
aeveral times afterwards, when scarcely able to 



196 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPABS. 

articulate, she tried to say something about that 
will. 

My school was well attended — quite as much so 
as I desired it to be. We had the satisfaction of 
being in one of the best of communities — George- 
town at its best estate, I should think — and of 
having the ministry and intimate friendship of that 
excellent man, the liev. Samuel K. Hodges. But 
there was nothing that contributed more to my en- 
joyment than the affectionate attachment which 
subsisted between my wife and the family of my 
deceased wife, which was so simple, and pure- 
hearted, and entire, that a stranger might have 
thought she was the very daughter and sister of 
them all. In June we repaired to our rented sum- 
mer-house on Du Bordieu's Island, which is sepa- 
rated by an inlet from North Island, and together 
with that island served the planters and principal 
inhabitants of Georgetown as a healthy retreat in 
summer. My school was continued here for the 
benefit of my neighbors, and such others as would 
board their children, till late in October, when I 
returned to Georgetown, and resumed it there; 
and during this period I preached every Sabbath 
day "in my own hired house." 

And now what was wanting ? Whether at the 
island or in town, my school was amply sufficient 
for my wants ; my health was good ; I was in a 
community of friends, with not a few of those I 
most loved about me ; I enjoyed public respect and 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 197 

confidence; and yet I was unhappy. During the 
time at the island, when surrounded by men of the 
world only, and in such near neighborhood with 
them as to hear and see continually what the world 
afforded for the happiness of its people, it was as 
if the mysterious words, "menb, mene, tekel, 
UPHARSIN,'' had been written on the wall of every 
parlor. I loathed it all, though I loved its victims. 
I loathed it, and yet I was haunted with spectres 
of apostates who for the world had abjured reli- 
gion. Shall ever I be one? And I was afraid, 
though I felt that neither of its divinities, "the 
lust of the flesh,'* nor "the lust of the eye,*' nor 
" the pride of life," was any god with me. I heard 
the voice of preaching, but it was my own voice 
that I heard ; of prayer, but it was I who prayed. 
I heard, perchance, the notes of some song of Zion, 
but the singers were my wife and myself alone. I 
would contrast my loneliness with the times gone 
by, when in the woods which had never known an 
axe I felt not to be alone, because I had left a 
Christian brother's house and was going to meet a 
company at the house of God. The prayer-meet- 
ing, the class-meeting, the love-feast, I had none ; 
but the world, the world was ever about me, and 
turn which way I might it still pursued me. I 
thought, nay, I felt, that if I had never been con- 
versant with it before, having less knowledge I 
might feel less aversion. But it was the <9ame 
world which I had been bred in ; and which I had 
renounced, because it knew not, and could not 



198 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPBBS. 

know, the cross of Christ. My return to George- 
town was a great, a very great relief. How sweet 
was communion with brother Hodges; how plea- 
sant the society of brethren ; how grateful the fel- 
lowship of the class-meeting; how delightful the 
gospel from the lips of another ; how precious the 
table of the Lord ! Could I doubt ? Surely I could 
not. I had been out of my place, and therefore 
could not be at ease. God had not meant forme to 
serve tables, but to preach ; nor to keep a school 
for so much a quarter, but to feed his flock, his 
sheep and his lambs. What would I pass another 
summer for, excluded the privileges of the Church 
of Christ? What might recompense me for an- 
other summer like the past at Du Bordieu's Island? 
But there was only one way of escape for me, and 
come what might I must take that way. I must 
reenter the itinerancy, and I must do so at once. 
There, I should not bear my burdens unsustained; 
and heavy if they should be, I should have the 
consolation, best above all, of knowing that they 
were the Lord's, and borne for His sake, and not 
of my producing. 

Our fourth Quarterly Meeting came on in a few 
weeks after my return to Georgetown, and I sur- 
prised brother Kennedy, the Presiding Elder, by 
applying for a recommendation to be readmitted 
into the itinerancy. This done, I went actively lo 
work to arrange every thing for it. My school was 
closed with the Christmas holidays, and I was 
ready to go to my appointment. No time was lost. 



AUTOBIOGBAPHT. 199 

and in January, 1818, I was again at work as a 
travelling preacher. My appointment was Colum- 
bia ; where another had been added to the list of 
parsonages belonging to the South Carolina Con- 
ference, and which was now at my service. It 
was a small concern, and poor ; but there was no 
reprobating "tekbl** to be seen written on its walls, 
and I could sing, 

** My soul mounted higher 
In a chariot of fire. 
And the world, it was under my feet." 

Poverty itself had a charm when it stood in an 
open renunciation of the world for the Master's 
sake. As to the parsonage-house, or its furniture, 
or provisions, I was not responsible for them, good 
or bad. 

My friends in Columbia will excuse the liberty I 
take in what I here say of the accommodations 
furnished the preacher in 1818, and may even take 
a pleasure in contrasting the present with the past 
in that respect. They will hardly dream of any re- 
flection on them by a statement of facts, any more 
than that pattern society of Methodists in Wil- 
mington might at the present time by the facts of 
the time of my service in that place. The cases 
were different, to be sure, for in 1818, in Columbia, 
we had some five or six brethren, any one of whom 
was worth more than an equivalent of all the property 
of all the Methodists of Wilmington in 1818 put 
together. And it is also true that these richer 



200 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBBS. 

brethren were the stewards. I mention it to show 
what was the general state of things among us at 
that time as regarded the support of the preachers ; 
and shall be faithful, without the slightest feeling 
of any possible unkindness. 

The parsonage-house was of one story, about forty 
feet long, eighteen or twenty wide, and consisted 
of three rooms, of which one, at the west end of 
the house, had the breadth of the house for its 
length, by some seventeen feet for its breadth. It 
had a fire-place, and a first coat of rough plastering 
to make it comfortable in winter. Across the mid- 
dle of the house was a passage, communicating 
with this principal room on one side, and two small 
rooms which took up the remainder of the house 
on the other side of it. These two small rooms 
also were made comfortable, as the principal one 
was, by a first coat of rough plastering, but with- 
out any fire-place. There was no shed nor piazza 
to the house, and the story was low, so that in 
summer it was very hot. There was in one of the 
small rooms a bed, a comfortable one, but I think 
there was neither bureau nor table, and I have for- 
gotten whether there was a* chair appropriated to it, 
besides the four belonging to the parlor, or not. 
Perhaps, as four chairs were enough for our use at 
any one time, it was thought as well to have them 
taken from parlor to chamber and back again. 
The parlor (as I call the room which was appropri- 
ated to all purposes except sleeping) was furnished 
with a table, of pine wood, which, for having been 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 201 

some time in a school-house, was variously hacked 
and marked with deep and broad notches, heads of 
men^ and the like, which, however, could not be 
seen after we got a cloth to cover them ; a slab, of 
a broad piece of pine plank, painted Spanish-brown, 
on which were a pitcher, five cups and saucers, and 
three tumblers; a well-made bench, for sitting, 
nine feet long, of pine also, and three Windsor 
chairs. I am not sure whether we found a pair of 
andirons in the parlor or not, so that I cannot add 
such a convenience to the list with certainty. With 
this doubtful addition, the above furnishes an en- 
tire list of the furniture. In the yard was a small 
shanty of one room for a kitchen, and another still 
smaller for a store-room, or meat-house, or I know 
not what. We used it, small as it was, for an 
omnium gatherum. And I repeat, so far was I 
from complaining, that I even exulted in this 
poverty. For a man to be inferior to his circum- 
stances, I thought, might be a humiliation indeed, 
but I could see no reason to be mortified at what 
others had imposed on a pure conscience. And I 
have a vivid recollection of receiving company and 
seating them on that long bench with as perfect 
ease of manner as I might have done if they had 
called on me at a tent at a camp-meeting, where 
nothing better was to be expected. In particular, 
I remember to have felt something more than bare 
self-possession, when, being waited on by a joint 
committee of the two houses of the Legislature, 
with a request to preach to that honorable body, 
9* 



202 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

and perceiving that my bench might hold theii 
honors, I invited them to be seated on it, while I 
took a chair before that presence, feeling to look as 
if I did not lack good-breeding. And I had a 
feeling, too, as if not a man of them need be mor- 
tified by a seat so humble as was that pine bench. 
What was the bench to them ? and what was the 
bench to me ? They could occupy it with dignity, 
and so might I, either that or my half-backed chair. 
The general position of the Methodists as a 
denomination was exceedingly humble. They were 
the poorer of the people. The preachers had been 
raised up from among that people, and, in worldly 
respects, were still as they were. Every thing 
about the denomination partook somewhat, perhaps 
much, of the cast of poverty. The preachers gen- 
erally wore very common clothing, mostly of home- 
spun, cut in the style of a clown of a century past. 
The meeting-houses, even in the towns, were in- 
ferior wooden buildings. The aspects of poverty, 
if not poverty itself, seemed to be Methodistic, if 
not saintly ; and Methodism in rags might be none 
the worse, since its homespun was esteemed better 
than the broadcloth of other sects. And there had 
been an everlasting preaching, too, against preach- 
ing for money: that is, against the preachers being 
supported by the people. It had been reiterated 
from the beginning that we were eighty-dollar 
men, (not money-lovers, as some others were sus- 
pected of being,) till it got to be considered that 
for Methodist preachers to be made comfortable, 



ATTTOBIOGRAPHY. 208 

would deprive them of their glorying, and tarnish 
the lustre of their Methodistic reputation. It was 
all nonsense, perfect nonsense, but it was not then 
so considered. A strong case it was of the force 
of association, appropriating to immaterial and 
indifferent circumstances a value wholly inde- 
pendent of them, and belonging to a very different 
thing, which, by chance, had been found in con- 
nection with such circumstances. But who did 
not know that it was not the preacher's coat that 
made him preach with power, and that furnished 
him with strength for the battles of the Lord? 
But that power, in that preacher, reflected honor on 
his homespun coat, and caused the coat itself to be 
admired. Could broadcloth do more? It had 
never done as much for the persons concerned, and 
they were hearty for the homespun, homespun for 
ever. And then, who would experiment a change 
when things were well enough ? " Let well enough 
alone.'* The preacher was just as he ought to be, 
and the preaching just as it ought to be, and why 
interfere ? " The best of men were but men at the 
best," and who could vouch that to change his cir- 
cumstances might not change the man, so as that 
the same man in a better coat should not preach a 
worse sermon ? And then when such points were 
not presented as for an equal discussion of both 
sides of the question, but with the full tide and 
current of opinion setting one way, what might it 
avail for this or that individual, or even this or 
that society, to oppose it? Might they not expose 



204 LIS>fi 0£' WILLIAM OAPBItd» 

themselves to the imputation of being unmethodist- 
ical and worldly-minded, lowering the standard of 
Methodism to suit their own carnal tastes ? 

I remember that not long ago, when the present 
Trinity church in Charleston had just been com- 
pleted, happening to step into it with two or three 
gentlemen of friendly feelings, who were not Meth- 
odists, one of them said, as in tones of regret, shaking 
his head as he spoke : ''Ah, this does not look like 
Methodism. Too fine, too fine ! Give me the old 
Cumberland street blue meeting.** And this was 
a gentleman of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 
and a pretty decided Churchman besides. He 
seemed to think that even a High-Churchman 
coming to a Methodist meeting might hardly get 
the good of it unless he found there low, dusky walls 
and seats with open backs, and such like assistances 
of a godly worship. 

But to return to my brethren of the Board of 
Stewards. It could not have been without a strug- 
gle that such men as they were, as to worldly posi- 
tion and circumstances, had identified themselves 
with the Methodists in that community at the time 
when they had done so. In doing this, they must 
Jiave felt strongly the poverty of the world without 
the riches of grace, and the riches of poverty 
ennobled by this heavenly bestowment. They had 
come into the Church, therefore, to take it as it 
was, and not to reform it ; the rich thus consenting, 
perhaps rejoicing, to be made low, as the most 
desirable form of exaltation. And they, finding 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 205 

lihe Church to be pleased with its poverty, as if 
that poverty might be indispensable to its spirit- 
uality, adopted the prevailing sentiment, and were 
content with the poverty for the sake of the spirit- 
uality. They had not turned Methodists to spoil 
Methodism, but only for a share of its spiritual 
power. They were probably in fault, and as far as 
they may have been so, I too was to blame, for why 
did I not complain ? Or if not, why did I not, of 
myself, put away that table and that bench, and 
those ungainly chairs? But the whole economy 
of 1818 was of a piece with this, so that the entire 
cost to the Church of keeping the parsonage that 
year was but a fraction over two hundred dollars. 
I might explain how it was so, if it were worth the 
trouble, but it is not. Of this, however, I am sat- 
isfied, that I have since occupied a parsonage in 
Columbia, when the table was mahogany, and the 
bench belonged to the piazza, and the parlor, and 
the dining-room, and two bedrooms were suita- 
bly furnished for decency and comfort; and 
neither was I more useful, nor did I love the peo- 
ple, nor did they love me more, than in that year of 
1818. Changes of this sort require time ; and woe 
to the man who should be so inconsiderate of the 
force of prejudice and the weaknesses of men, as to 
attempt them by main strength. He shall find hia 
end accomplished, if at all, at a fearful cost. 

Methodism was never poverty and rags, nor a 
clown's coat and blundering speech, nor an unfur- 



206 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APBR8. 

nished, half-provisioned house, nor no house at aU| 
for the preacher ; but it was the gospel simply be- 
lieved, and faithfully followed, and earnestly (even 
vehemently) insisted on. It was powerful, not 
because it was poor, but because it was the living, 
breathing, active, urgent testimony of the gospel 
of the Son of God. It apprehended Christ's pre- 
sence, and took hold on his authority to perform 
its work. Its every utterance was a " Thus saith the 
Lord.'' The Bible, the Bible was ever on its lips. 
Nothing but the Bible, and just as the Bible holds 
it, was its testimony of truth. It was all spiritual, 
experimental, practical, not speculative, abstracted, 
or metaphysical. When it preached, it was to 
testify of "repentance toward God, and faith 
toward our Lord Jesus Christ ;'* and to both, and to 
every degree of both, for the time then present. 
When it exhorted, it was to enforce its preaching, 
as it ever saw sinners sporting on the brink of a 
precipice, and believers in danger of being seduced 
from their safety. And preaching or exhorting, its 
inexhaustible argument was, eternity — eternity at 
hand — an eternity of heaven or hell for every soul 
of man. Its great element was spirituality — a 
spirituality not to be reached by a sublimating 
mental process, but by a hearty entertaining of the 
truths of the gospel as they challenged the con- 
science and appealed to the heart for credence in 
the name of Christ crucified, whenever and wher- 
ever the gospel was preached. And this, together 



AtjfoBIOGEAPHT. 207 

mth a moral discipline answering to it, I under- 
stand to be Methodism still, and God forbid there 
should come any other in its name. 

We had a prosperous year, on the whole, with 
crowded congregations; and ftieetings for "the 
fellowship of saints," whether in class or the love- 
feast, were well attended. In the latter part of the 
year, to relieve myself of the urgency of my brother 
Gabriel, I addressed a note to Dr. Maxcy, of the 
college, as if to inquire whether any examination 
might be requisite in order to my obtaining a 
diploma; which he replied to kindly, and at the 
Commencement, without any thing further on the 
subject, I was made — alias, dubbed — ^A. M. 

The Conference at the close of this year was in 
Camden, good old Camden, with its Isaac Smith, 
and Mathis, and Brown, and Reynolds, and Thorn- 
ton, and the rest. Bishop Roberts attended it 
alone. The Conference was full, and whether in 
its business sessions, or its public ministrations, 
was an excellent one. Brother Hodges was then 
Presiding Elder of the Ogeechee District, and 
called for me to be appointed to Savannah. This 
place (now and for years past so favorably known 
as one of the most desirable of our stations) was 
then regarded the forlorn hope. There was no ap- 
pointment in the Conference half so unwelcome to 
a Methodist preacher. After several years of in- 
effectual effort to plant a Methodist Church on the 
soil which had been trod by the feet of the Wesleys, 
Bishop Asbury had determined on a great sacrifice 



208 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

for it, and sent the lion of his day, James Russell, 
who had passed as a blazing torchlight through the 
woodland circuits, and was thought to be the man 
for Savannah also. But he failed, and Savannah 
proved the grave dF his power and success. It was 
not a citadel to be taken by storm, and he could 
not get a hearing of those who might have esti- 
mated his talents, but who were content with hear- 
ing of him that he was a wonderful ranter. Rus- 
sell, however, got a church built by this sacrifice 
of himself, partly by his influence in the country, 
and perhaps more by the aid of his Presiding El- 
der, the Rev. Lewis Myers. But it got him in debt, 
and he engaged himself to assist the United States 
Quartermaster by foraging for the troops ; (for it 
was during the war with Great Britain.) And thus 
he lost all pretension to ministerial influence or use- 
fulness in Savannah, became discouraged, engaged 
in money speculations, and located. We had, then, 
procured a meeting-house, but not a congregation. 
Nor had we gained in public respect or confidence. 
My good brother, the Rev. Henry Bass, afterwards 
labored with his usual faithfulness, and purged the 
puny vine of some of its rotten branches, and 
grafted others of a better sort into it. And my 
impression is that the first hope of success for the 
Methodists in Savannah began to dawn in his 
labors there. But after him, and for the year (1818) 
just closed, we were again unfortunate. The Rev. 
Urban Cooper had been sent. He was a young 
man of uncommon talents and engaging manners. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 209 

and who might have proved eminently useful ; but 
he found no accommodations for his family, or 
means for their support, and declined filling the 
appointment. And yet, under all these adverse 
circumstances, by the indomitable perseverance of 
brother Myers, the former Presiding Elder, we had 
procured a parsonage-house of respectable dimen- 
sions, which, if the Bishop would send me, I should 
have the use of for the year 1819. But it was 
strongly objected to by the Presiding Elder of the 
Charleston District, who wished me appointed to 
the city, and who was seconded by my friend Ken- 
nedy, who thought the appointment to Savannah 
might prove an oppressive one. In this state Of 
the case, the Bishop decided that if I was free to 
go, he would send me to Savannah, but not with- 
out my consent. Brother Hodges accordingly 
broke the subject to me, but I declined giving an 
answer, further than to say, that I was more free to 
go anywhere than to interfere in the least degree 
with my appointment. 

We were appointed to Savannah, and to Savan- 
nah we went. No other appointment might have 
been more suitable, nor aflforded a finer field of 
usefulness, than this. And yet the announcement 
of it to me excited feelings of exceeding weakness. 
I did not doubt its being providential. I never 
found it difficult to believe this of any appointment 
at any time. Indeed, it always appeared to me that 
if there was any thing in the afiairs of men which 

Providence might be believed to be concerned in, 
14 



210 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

it was the appointment of a preacher to his field 
of labor ; involving, as it must, not only his in- 
dividual interest, but that of so many others ; and, 
whether for himself or the people, interests of the 
highest moment. I supposed my appointment to 
be of God, and did not doubt it; nor did I cherish 
for a moment any feeling contrary to submission, 
and an instant steady purpose to obey. But there 
was with the persuasion of its being providential, 
an apprehension as if the Lord's controversy with 
me for having left the work by locating might not 
have been ended ; and the appointment to so sickly 
a place as Savannah was reported to be, (and as 
probably it was before the introduction of their dry 
culture system,) seemed to announce that some 
calamity was overhanging me. Was I to be de- 
prived of another wife ? or was it my only child, 
the first-born, and now sole representative of my 
deceased Anna ? Or was I to be called to the trial 
of losing them both ? If there be any one who 
can reason off the force of such temptations, I have 
never been that person. I have found how I could 
be sustained against them, or supported under 
them, so as that till they should be removed I 
might neither fiinch nor fly, but I have found no- 
thing more than this. I went to Savannah, and 
entered on my duties there, and prosecuted my 
labors for many months with this apprehension 
still painfully present. But it did me no harm, if 
it did not rather serve as a buckle to the bond 
which held me to my work, adding the inscrip- 



AUTOBIOGBAPHT. 211 

don of "J am debtoVy' to that of "J.5 much as in 



me is.*' 



I found things in a much better condition than 
E had expected. Of the Savannah or Georgia 
people, as distinguished from those who were there 
on some business account, we had but few;- and 
of these, the city marshal, then a young man and a 
young Methodist, was the only individual of any . 
influence in society. But there were several very 
worthy men and well-established Methodists from 
New York, who were invaluable to us as official 
members. Indeed, I found myself by no means 
on a "forlorn hope" appointment, but, on the con- 
trary, with a pretty well organized little church 
about me. That most excellent man, Rev. Charles 
W. Carpenter, was then there as a local preacher, 
and relieved me of any pecuniary responsibility, 
by keeping the parsonage-house for us ; we having 
ample accommodations in it, excellent fare, and 
finding in him and his wife a brother and sister 
whom we loved as if they had both been born ours. 
He, too, had located in the New York Conference 
on a temporal account, and went into business with 
his father, (who had been a large merchant in that 
city,) and established a branch of the concern in 
Savannah. But Charles's ministry and merchandise 
proved as incompatible as mine and my farming 
had done, and the house failed. The failure was 
one of sheer misfortune, and neither father nor son 
was ever suspected of the slightest wrong-doing. 
But it broke up their business, and Charles taught 
school for a few years, and returning to New York, 



212 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

reentered the itinerancy in that Conference, where 
he has ever since been known as one of the purest 
of men and best of ministers. The Church in 
Savannah owes him high respect. And there is 
another name which deserves its honor and its 
gratitude, though not of our denomination ; as in- 
deed it desierves of others also who are not of his 
denomination ; I mean the Rev. Dr. Henry Kol- 
lock, a name which I have ever loved to honor. 
Something had transpired with this great man, 
some years before, which had involved him with 
his presbytery. His congregation grew indignant 
at it, and required him to withdraw from the pres- 
bytery and identify himself with the Congrega- 
tionalists, which was their denomination. Great 
excitement followed, and the Presbyterians were 
exceedingly offended. Not the Presbyterians of 
Savannah, for I believe there were none there, or 
if any, they were with Dr. Kollock, but the deno- 
mination, at least as far as Charleston. The Doctor 
was alone silent for the vindication of himself, while 
all Savannah was in a hubbub. It must have been 
ill-managed, though I judge not of it There was 
offence ; and that is always a noun of multitude, 
with at least one active verb for every nominative 
understood. I cannot pretend to parse it, but 
there was trouble in the Presbyterian camp, and 
trouble in Savannah; for Savannah seemed to be- 
long to Dr. Kollock, as fully as he belonged to it. 
The people of Savannah knew him and loved him 
and honored him as they never did any other man. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 218 

And no wonder, for he was a man for any people 
to be proud of in the first degree. There was one 
characteristic of Dr. KoUock, however, both indis- 
pensable and inalienable to the man, which I have 
thought might have been chargeable with much of 
this trouble. Of all men he seemed the last to 
know the power of his influence over his people. 
He seemed incapable of a thought of it, much less 
of such an exertion of it as might have controlled 
them. Could he have known and felt his power, he 
had not been Dr. Kollock ; and while he was to be 
seen only in the light of his own surpassing grace- 
fulness pleading for the presbytery against himself, 
it was a pouring of oil not on troubled waters which 
might be made smooth, but on a raging fire which 
should only be made more fierce for the endeavor 
to allay it. He might have prevailed for the pres- 
bytery, but it was impossible for him to prevail 
against himself; and he found himself, as he 
thought, reduced to the alternative of choosing be- 
tween presbytery and his people. 

I had come to Savannah, having heard but one 
side of the question ; but I had heard it so fully, 
and from persons so reliable, that my mind was 
prejudiced against the Doctor as one who had 
evaded discipline and kicked against the Church. 
A great man I supposed him to be, who had not 
proved good enough to bear to be corrected for a 
fault, but by force of his greatness had unworthily 
maintained himself in the ministry. I presently 
hoard of him as a friend, and was silent ; as a good 



214 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

man, and answered nothing. I thought that as for 
me, I was called to the poor, and so great a man 
would hardly be found standing in my way. He 
called to see me; and I saw, I thought, in his 
speaking countenance, the grace of his blended 
dignity and meekness, and his eloquent conver- 
sation, how the people had been taken by the man. 
He attended my ministry ; and that I could not so 
readily account for. But he had been there be- 
fore ; had frequently been at the Methodist church, 
and several times had preached there; and that 
too I could not explain. But the greatest puzzle of 
all was, that the poorest of my poor knew him, 
and loved him as a benefactor; and go where T 
might among the hovels of poverty, his tracks had 
been there ; and great as everybody knew him to 
be, these poor people never called him great, but 
good: "Dear, good Dr. Kollock" was their usual 
title for him. I trust I have never been so un- 
amiable as to prefer thinking evil rather than good 
of any man ; but I had certainly been unjust to 
Dr, Kollock ; and it was not till after his third call 
that I went to see him. So cruel a thing is pre- 
judice, and so wrong it is for one to make up his 
mind on any matter from a showing on one side. 
I say that I make mention of his name with gra- 
titude, while I honor his memory as that of one of 
the greatest men of my time.* 



* I hope it will not be imputed to me, for tMs, that I am, or ever 
was, a Calyinist. Dr. Kollock neyer suspected anj such thing of me^ 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 216 

I will relieve this, seeming digression by an 
anecdote of some years previous to this. At the 
time of Dr. Flinn's leaving Camden for Charleston, 
and on that account, he incurred the displeasure 
of some of his own sect, among whom was a rather 
cynical personage by the name of Cowser. There 
was a synod, or some such meeting, held in 
Charleston, at which Dr. Kollock was present, and 
preached with great eclat. Cowser and Flinn were 
both present, and after the sermon, the former, 
tickled with an occasion for mortifying the latter, 
who also was very eloquent, went up to him and 
said, " Well, Dr. Flinn, how does it make you feel 
to hear such a man as that?'* "Why, brother 
Cowser,** answered the Doctor dryly, "T suppose it 
may make me feel pretty much as it makes you feel 
to hear me preach.** Good, and the cynic felt the 
retort. 

From the beginning, my congregations in Savan- 
nah were very large ; and after a short time, the 
church might have been filled, had it been half 
again as large as it was. Strikingly in contrast with 



or of my brethren. He was too truly great and good to shut up his 
zeal for Christ and religion to the Calvinists only. But there is a 
class of men who do so ; and who seem to think that any courtesy 
or senrice extende'd to a Methodist might be profane. Thus I had 
the mortification of seeing myself published as a ** Calvinist Me- 
thodist minister," in certain quarters, because I had preached a 
funeral sermon on the occasion of Dr. Kollock's death. And I sup- 
pose it to be for some such reason that a certain reyerend gentle- 
man in Georgia is now stoutly affirming in the newspapers that my 
late colleague, Bishop Bascom, was a Calvinist. 



216 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

the church in Wilmington in 1813, there were very 
few negroes who attended Methodist preaching; 
the policy of the place allowing them separate 
churches, and the economy and doctrines of the 
Baptist Church pleasing them better than ours. 
There was but one side of the gallery appropriated 
to their use, and it was always the most thinly 
seated part of the church ; while there were two re- 
spectably large colored churches in the city, with 
their pastors, and deacons, and sacraments, and 
discipline, all of their own. I had therefore little 
access to this portion of the people, and could do 
but little for them. Nevertheless, our few mem- 
bers were zealous for their Church, and often had 
controversies with their Baptist brethren in the 
neighborhood. Fine specimens of controversy, to 
be sure, they must have been ; and I am tempted 
to give a sample for the benefit of controversialists 
in general. 

I was holding a love-feast for them, and Csesar, 
an elderly African, spoke with great animation 
of a good meeting he had had across the river, 
at which somebody had agreed to join the Church, 
and was now present for that purpose. And when he 
had sat down, it being time to conclude the ser- 
vice, I asked him if I had understood him rightly^ 
as saying that Tie had brought some oue. to join 
the Church. 

"Yes, sir," answered he, briskly, <Mat da him." 
"But did you not say, old man, that she was a 
Baptist?" 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 217 

"Yes, sir, e Bapty/* 

"But why don't she stay with her own peo 
pie?" 

Here he arose, and putting himself in an oratori- 
cal posture, he proceeded thus : 

"You see, sir, oberwe side de riber, (river,) some 
Bapty and some Metody. An de Bapty, dem say 
de ting tan (stand) so, (motioning to the left,) and 
de Metody, we say e tan so, (motioning to the 
right.) An so me and bro. Tom, we bin hab 
meetin ; and one Bapty broder bin da, and dis sister 
bin da. An me talk pon um, an de Bapty broder 
talk pon um ; and him talk and me talk long time. 
An ater (after) dis sister set down da long time, an 
yeddy (hear) we good fasin, (fashion,) e tell me say, 
' Bro. Caesar, me tink you. right.' Me say, Ki, sister, 
you say you tinke me right ? Me know me right. 
So, sir, you see me bring uxn to you fuh'^for) join 
Church. An you know, sir, de Scripter say, de 
strongis dog, let um hole (hold) fas." 

And who might have been the weaker dog where 
Cseaar was the stronger one? Homely work must 
they have made of it, but I dare say they were honest, 
which is more than I would say for some better- 
bred controvertists, who, with a fair show of speech 
and becoming figures, make their controversies 
like a dog-fight, with a bone (or a book) for the 
prize, and all under warrant of Scripture, as they 
hold it. 

. We had scarcely been made comfortable in our 
pew quarters, before I found that our infant Church 
10 



218 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

was heavily in debt. And as I thought it better to 
clear away the rubbish at first, I immediately un- 
dertook a journey by the way of our liberal friends 
on Black Swamp, in Beaufort District, to Charles- 
ton, for the purpose of removing this incubus. I 
was gone about three weeks, when I returned witb 
eighteen hundred dollars, which, together with an 
arrangement for renting part of the parsonage- 
house for a few years, (which had been constructed 
with a view to something of the sort,) cancelled the 
debt, and set us at liberty. The class and public 
collections were ample for all our wants, and, as 
regarded temporal things, there was no lack. I 
might not say that we " fared sumptuously every 
day," but we had a comfortable sufficiency of all 
good things. And this was that "forlorn hope,'* 
which had been considered so very trying that my 
good Biftiop would not send me to it till he had 
first got my consent to go. 

With respect to the more important matters of 
ministerial success, it was manifest that in neither 
of the towns where I had been, was there so fair a 
prospect of establishing our Church as here. Dr. 
Kollock was right in judging that there was a large 
and respectable portion of the community for whom 
the Methodist ministry promised the most likely 
means of conversion. And it was this judgment 
of that noble-minded man which induced him to 
befriend us. As time passed on, it was seen that 
we had gained a permanent congregation, who 
worshipped nowhere else, but morning, afternoon, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 210 

and evening were to be found at the Methodist 
church. And a more decorous congregation I have 
never preached to. 

As the sickly season came on, I found myself 
gradually relieved of the painful apprehension 
which had been so troublesome before. There was 
an event before us for Mrs. Capers, but it came off 
favorably, and the 8th of August gave us a son, 
Francis Withers. My first son, William Theo- 
dotus, whose birth had proved the occasion of his 
mother's death, had died about the time of my 
second marriage. 

An affectionate people, a kind and respectful 
community, crowded congregations, and our meet- 
ings for Christian fellowship well attended and 
profitable, made this year one to be remembered. 
What was thought to be the hardest appointment 
I could have received, proved the best I ever had 
had. And a better, no one need desire, of my 
pretensions, and with my aims in view. Every 
thing went well. During the summer it became 
apparent*that the health of our friend, and every- 
body's friend. Dr. Kollock, was permanently in- 
jured. His flesh shrunk, he grew pale and wan, 
his countenance lost its vivacity, and he was unable 
to fulfil the duties of the pulpit or the pastorate. 

It was not for the honor, God. knows, but from a 
grateful sense of duty, that I did what T could to 
supply his lack of service, and preached for him 
generally once on the Sabbath day. Ilis strength 
declined more and more, till he was struck with para- 



220 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

lysis, of which he died. It was on Sunday, just as he 
was entering the door of his house on his return 
from church, that he suffered the fatal shock which 
deprived him instantly of consciousness, and, after 
a few days, of life. And I am the more particular 
to mention it, that I may notice what has always 
appeared to me the most imposing and affecting 
exhibition of Christian sympathy that I have ever 
witnessed. Prayers were offered in all the churches 
for him in the after-services of that melancholy 
day, of course ; but what I allude to was the as- 
sembling of his congregation daily, morning and 
afternoon, with the ministers and members of the 
other Churches, in his church, to offer prayers to 
God for him. The Episcopalian minister was not 
with us, only for the reason that a "higher law*' 
than humanity or charity, public virtue or personal 
worth, required his absence. Nothing under hea- 
ven might induce the Jews and Samaritans to pray 
together, though they might pray by themselves 
apart; and Christians of the nineteenth century, 
for being under the obligations of a like "higher 
law,*' might not invalidate their exclusiveness on 
any possible account. But it was affecting to be 
there. The multitude of persons assembled, the 
all-pervading solemnity of the scene, the intense 
interest manifested in the prayers, and the tears 
that accompanied them, while the man of God, 
whom all had honored for his virtues and his 
talents, and whose eloquent tongue had been so 
often listened to in that house with rapture, lay 



AUTOBIOGRAPHT. 221 

speechless, motionless, unconscious on the bed of 
death, all conspired with unexampled power to im- 
press us deeply. The physicians (who were always 
with him) had told us that his death was certain, 
and that it was impossible for him to recover con- 
sciousness, though he might linger for some time 
in that unconscious state. And this was especially 
deprecated. Earnest, fervent prayers were offered 
that it might please our Heavenly Father to restore 
him to his senses, if but for an hour; and this 
boon, so earnestly entreated for, was granted while 
we were at prayer on the morning of the third day. 
I was leading the exercises, when a messenger 
announced that our sick friend had called for me, 
and, giving the book to another, I instantly obeyed 
the summons. He was deathly pale, and the 
muscles of his face looked relaxed and flabby, but 
his eye was that of Dr. KoUock in his best estate, 
except a weakness of one of his eyelids. As I took 
his hand, and said, "God is with you, my dear sir," 
he answered by repeating 2 Cor. i. 6, "For as the 
sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolar 
tion also aboundeth by Christ.'* He seemed to 
know that it would cost him an effort, and spoke 
very slowly but distinctly each word of the text as 
above. He evidently was happy, knowing himself 
to be on the verge of Jordan, and his Redeemer 
with him. Several hours were allowed him, of un- 
speakable interest to his family and friends, in this 
calm triumph over death and the grave, and he fell 
asleep in Jesus. (And I repeat, that I esteem him 



22% LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBBS. 

to have been one of the noblest of men.) The 
death of a good man is always a loss, and more the 
death of a good minister ; but the death of Dr. 
Kolloek was a public calamity which every one 
deplored, and of which the public feeling sought 
to express itself in the strongest manner possible.' 

The Conference at the close of the year was held 
in Charleston, and was attended by Bishop Mc- 
Kendree. I was returned to Savannah for the year 
1820 ; and this being the session for the election of 
delegates to the General Conference in May, 1820, 
T was chosen one of that number. 

Returning ;tQ Savannah, I had the satisfaction of 
receiving a Qiost hiearty welcome from the Church 
and the community; and I resumed the labors of 
my ministry with a cheerful spirit. The time passed 
pleasantly. on, in the usual course of preaching 
thre^ timea every ;Sabbath day, and on Wednesday 
eyeniiigs, holdinig on^ or two prayer-meetings, and 
visiting the classes weekly, and whatever else my 
hand found to do:. ,1 had much to encourage, 
and nothing worth.mention to perplex or embarrass 
me. .. . 

The General Conference at Baltimore, May 1, 
required me to leave toy charge early in April, that 
I might attend it, Oui* mode of travelling was 
overland to Petersburg, and thence (or rather from 
City Point) to Baltimore by steamboat. 

At this General Conference, I introduced the 
rtieasure instituting District Conferences for the 
local preachers. It was my first essay at making 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 228 

rales and regulations for the Church, and was alike 
successful and unlucky. It was successful, inas- 
much as it carried ; and carried too without any 
serious opposition from any quarter ; and, I think, 
with less discussion and greater unanimity than I 
have ever known in the adoption of any measure 
which proposed the introduction of a new feature 
into our economy, except only the Plan of Separa- 
tion in 1844. But it was unlucky, and had better 
not have been adopted, by the fault of certain local 
preachers of the Baltimore Conference, and in 
some other parts of the Connection north of Balti- 
more, who perverted it to purposes of mischief. 
And it is probable that this was induced, in part, 
by the discussion of "the Presiding Elder ques- 
tion,'* which was warmly, if not angrily, urged at 
that General Conference, in presence of those very 
local preachers who were shortly to give us trou- 
ble. But I have yet to be convinced that this mea- 
sure of District Conferences deserves to be consid- 
ered "a startling innovation^'' as Dr. Bangs calls it 
in his History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
(vol. iii., page 142, edition 1841,) or that the 
abuses by which it was dishonored, if ^^ foreseen'* 
by any member of the General Conference, were 
brought to the notice of that body. There may 
have been those who, knowing the temper of local 
preachers in parts of the Connection unknown to 
me, foresaw or suspected what came to pass in the 
action of a few of the District Conferences, as 
above stated ; but I am sure that I heard of no 



224 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

such prognostications before the event, neither in 
the General Conference, nor out of it. I sincerely 
attribute the failure of the District Conferences to 
the agitation of "^Ae Presiding Elder question,'' in 
view of the importance which was given to it, and 
the vehemence with which it was urged. And to 
the same source is traceable all the "radical" dis- 
turbances which resulted in the formation of the 
Protestant Methodist Church. We learn from the 
same author that many of the local preachers them- 
selves were much dissatisfied with the District 
Conference, while "m others, where they were most 
detii^e in procuring the passage of the law creating and 
deling the powers of this Conference, a spirit of in- 
subordination incompatible with the rights and 
privileges of the itinerancy began to manifest itself, 
tod there can be no doubt that this injudicious 
measure, which had been presented to and carried 
through the Conference with some precipitancy, 
tended to foment that spirit of radicalism which 
ended in the secession of the party who styled them- 
selves reformers, and who have since organized 
under the name of the "Protestant Methodist 
Church.'* 

It is certainly an error to ascribe to the District 
Conferences a tendency to foment the spirit of 
radicalism ; for there was nothing in the nature of 
the institution, nor in the act of the General Con- 
ference granting it, which might have any such 
tendency. Its whole scope and design was to 
elevate and improve the local preachers, and to 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 225 

bring them into closer connection with the itine- 
rancy. But something there was which " tended 
to foment that spirit of radicalism,** and of that 
something the historian was not so free to speak, 
for, unfortunately, he was on the wrong side, and 
one of the principal advocates of the measure ; [ 
mean the proposition to transfer from tHe Bishops 
to the Annual Conferences the appointment of 
Presiding Elders, which next to the question of 
slavery was the most mischievous, and was alto- 
gether the most " radical, *V and most vehemently 
insisted on, of all the questions which have dis- 
tracted General Conferences in my time. The 
debate at this Conference I have already character- 
ized as vehement, if not angry. The power of the 
Bishops was assailed as incompatible with the prin- 
ciples of right government, and while no instance 
was adduced, nor could be adduced, of an abuse of 
that power to the injury of any one, its curtail- 
ment was insisted on with as much earnestness as 
if heaven and earth had been staked on the issue. 
That the Bishop was elected by the eldership, and 
held to the strictest accountability to that elder- 
ship for every act of his administration, was not 
sufficient for any thing but tyranny, as the inno- 
vators held it, but required the balance of a set of 
men to be elected in each Annual Conference for 
the purpose of dictating to the Bishop the action 
which he alone should be answerable for. If I 
have known what has been meant by the word 
"radical," I first heard the principles of radicalism 
16 



226 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

broached and insisted on in that General Confer- 
ence of 1820. There the local preachers had their 
radicalism instilled into them« or if not^ and they 
were radicals before, they must have been greatly 
comforted and edified in their previoa»s &ith by 
what they h^trd from travelling preachers. At 
any rate, the same outcry against the power of the 
Bishops which has been the key-note of radicalism 
from that day to this, was raised to a high pitch by 
that party of travelling preachers who insisted on 
electing the Presiding Elders as a check on the 
authority of the Bishops; and it continued to 
he vociferated at several successive General Con- 
ferences, till its evident evil fruits in the radical 
secession gave it its end. It was my opinion at 
the time, and I have not been enabled to change it 
by any thing I have known since, that the object 
of that party in the itinerant ministry was to en- 
feeble the administration in the appointment of the 
preachers^ that the itinerancy might be made more 
convenient to them. Their fears of the episcopal 
authority supplied the place of any known or 
alleged impropriety on the part of the Bishops in 
the exercise of the appointing power. They did 
not mean a revolution which should set aside the 
Episcopacy altogether, but they both meant, and 
plied their utmost efforts to effect, such an enfeeble- 
ment of it, as we believed would lead ultimately to 
that result. So also I would say of the local 
preachers who appeared so deeply interested for 
their success, and who, till the secession, were an- 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 227 

derstood to be in correspondence with that kindred 
party of itinerants. I have no idea that, at the 
first, they intended either revolution or secession, 
but that with the measure which proposed to give 
leading ministers a positive influence over their 
appointments in the itinerancy, or shortly to follow 
it, there should be allowed a delegation of local 
preachers, under the name of a lay delegation, in 
the General Conference. This was hinted at by 
more than one speaker, and oftener than once or 
twice, during the discussion on ''the Presiding 
Elder question," as a thing right and proper to be 
done. 

But of all these things I was entirely ignorant 
when I drew up in Savannah, in the month of 
March, the plan for improving the local ^preachers 
by the institution of a District Conference. I no 
more dreamed of the radicalism of a lay delegation 
to the General Conference, for the purpose of in- 
troducing local preachers there, than of that other 
feature of the same thing, which I was astonished 
to hear so stoutly advocated by leading ministers 
of the itinerancy in the General Conference, re- 
specting the power which should appoint the 
preachers. I have ever considered these two prin- 
ciples—a delegation of local preachers in the Gen- 
eral Conference, and the travelling preachers taking 
a share in their own appointments — as being alike 
"radical" with respect to the economy of Method^i- 
iam But at this General Conference of 1820, let 
it b^ remembered, the disturbing question was not 
that of a lay delegation^ but of t^ eledtioii of tbe 



228 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

Presiding Elders by the Annual Conferences as a 
check on the authority proper to the Bishops ; and 
the disturbers were not local preachers, but travel- 
ling preachers, from whom and their question the 
transition was easy and natural to the local 
preachers and their question. It was most unfor- 
tunate that the District Conference should have 
been introduced into our economy at such a time ; 
the most unpropitious that could have been fallen on. 
The entire measure, first and last, was conceived 
and proposed by myself. I had neither conference, 
conversation, nor correspondence with any local 
preacher on the subject, neither before the General 
Conference, nor during the time of its session, prior 
to its final action on the subject, neither at home, 
at Baltimore, nor anywhere else. I have already 
said that I was entirely ignorant of any dissatisfac- 
tion (not to say insubordination) among the local 
preachers in any part of the Connection, but sup- 
posed them to be in other Conferences, as I knew 
them to be in the South Carolina Conference, as well 
satisfied with the economy of the Church as any 
other portion of her members were. I now believe, 
and have long since believed, that there were about 
Baltimore, and perhaps north of it, certain emineit 
local preachers who, at the time of the General 
Conference in 1820, were dissatisfied with the 
economy of the Church, in so far as it excluded 
them from a direct participation in its government ; 
but I neither knew it nor suspected it at the time; 
nor did I know any thing then about the men, 
more than the respectability of their names. 



LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS, 



FROM 



HIS TUIRTT-FIRST TEAK TO HIS DEATH. 



BY WILLIAM M. WIGHTMAN, D.D. 



LIFE 



OF 



WILLIAM CAPERS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Value of autobiography — Mr. Capers appointed Superintendent 
of a Mission to the Creek Indians — Stationed at Milledgeyille, 
Georgia. 

The foregoing autobiography traces minutely, 
and with fidelity, the inner life as well as the out- 
ward circumstances of William Capers, from in- 
fancy up to his thirty-first year. It lays bare the 
formative influences, parental, domestic, and edu- 
cational, which produced the man. We are per- 
mitted to see the boy-impulses ripening into char- 
acter and manners; the aspirations of ambitious 
youth ; the providential ordering of early circum- 
stances so as to make them all converge upon the 
great life-determining event — his conversion to 
God. Sharply defined, admitting of no after-doubt, 
the realized result of a Divine visitation, conferring 

(281) 



232 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

stable peace of mind and all the attributes of the 
renewed character, this grand crisis is the point of 
departure from which, having "broken with the 
world,'* his course of public usefulness began, en- 
larging into distinguished eminence, and termi- 
nating at length in the laurelled honors of a trium- 
phant death, and a memory precious and embalmed 
in the affections of a sorrowing Church. 

We are now to trace the incidents of a public 
life, extending from his thirty-first to his sixty-fifth 
year; crowded with labors and responsibilities; 
acted out in the presence of a. great cloud of wit- 
nesses ; touching the story of the Methodist Church 
at many vital points; illustrating the care of a 
watchful Providence ; made signal. by the presence 
of the paramount law of duty; displaying the 
"triple nobility of nature, culture, and faith;" 
lived out to its last act without fear §.nd without 
reproach, and conferring upon society advantages, 
moral and spiritual, of the highest worth* What- 
ever belonged to him of dignity, of unity of char- 
acter, of lofty purpose, of sustained energy and 
activity: in a word, every element which contrib- 
uted its force in winning the battle of life -and 
achieving distinction, maybe referred to the domi- 
nation of the religious principle in his heart. Th^j 
whole life, in its manifold relations, crowded with 
active engagements, brilliant in many of its paSr 
sages, and not free from the touch of sorrow und 
the pressure of adversity, is formed on the grand 
ideas of religion. It is a noble development of the 



TH£ CREEK INDIANS. 258 

true theory of life. The foundation-maxim of the 
whole was, that the value of any thing is the price 
it will bear in eternity. Steering steadily by 
the light of this guiding principle, nothing was 
trusted to the accidents of winds and waves ; the 
right direction was always maintained, and the 
right port made at the end. 

The Missionary Society of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church was organized in 1819, in the city 
of New York ; and at the General Conference, held 
the next year, the constitution was amended, and 
branch societies were recommended to be formed in 
all the Annual Conferences. The first mission estab- 
lished was among the Wyandot Indians, a tribe in 
Ohio. The next was a mission to the Creek In- 
dians, occupying, at that time, lands in Georgia 
and Alabama, east and west of the Chattahoochee 
river. At the session of the South Carolina Con- 
ference of 1821, Mr. Capers was selected by Bishop 
McKendree to set on foot this mission. Leaving 
his family in Savannah until April, Mr. Capers set 
out on horseback on an extensive tour of appoint- 
ments, for the purpose of awakening public atten- 
tion to the moral and religious improvement of *^his 
tribe of Indians, who occupied the western frontier 
of the Conference. Contributions were solicited 
for the purpose of erecting mission premises, and 
establishing a school ; and the project, in the hands 
of so eloquent an advocate, met with general favor. 

In April, six weeks after the birth of his daughter, 
Susan, now the wife of Prof. Stone, of Emory Col- 



2S4 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPSRS. 

lege, lie removed his family to Georgetown, South 
Oarolina. Heavy rains had fallen, and rivers and 
creeks were swollen with freshets. Mr. Capers 
was driving the carriage containing his wife, chil- 
dren, and nurse ; and coming to along bridge, drove 
upon it without knowing that the farther end was 
washed away. Some workmen, however, happened 
to be near, and by their aid a bateau was brought 
up, and Mrs. Capers and the children were carried 
safely to land. Mr. Capers then loosed the horses, 
and sitting in the bateau, plunged them through, 
holding the reins. The carriage was then floated 
over without much damage. Farther on, a deep 
creek was passed by means of a floating log, over 
which the family were transported, while Mr. 
Capers swam the horses and carriage over. 

On the 19th of August he left Augusta on his 
way to the Creek Indians. This tour was under- 
taken to ascertain whether they could be persuaded 
to receive missionaries among them, inasmuch as, 
some time previously, they had declined being thus 
served. At Clinton Mr. Capers was joined by Col. 
R. A. Blount, a personal friend, and an invaluable 
ally in this enterprise. The Governor of Georgia 
waited on him at Milledgeville, and tendered his 
of&cial recommendation under the seal of the Ex- 
ecutive Department. On the 29th, Col. Blount 
and he set out on horseback, each with a blanket, 
great-coat, umbrella, saddlebags, and wallet. They 
carried sugar and coffee ; and on one side of Mr. Ca- 
pers's saddle hung a coffee-pot, on the other a tin* 



THH OREBK tHDIAKji. 285 

3tip. They entered the Creek nation on the Ist of 
September. On the next day, Sunday, he preached 
the first missionary sermon ever heard in the then 
dreary country between the Flint and Ghatta^ 
hoochee rivers. This was at the house of ia Mr. 
Spain; his congregation consisting of a few whites 
and blacks, and five Indians. The text waS' A|fpro- 
priatc: "The land of Zabulon, and the land of 
Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, 
Galilee of the Gentiles: The people which sat in 
darkness saw great light, and to them which iat in 
the region and shadow of death light is sprungup." 
The next day they reached the house of a Mr. 'Por- 
ter, and the day following passed five or six miles 
up the river, through rich, low grounds. ' Here 
they reached Coweta, the principal part 'of the 
town lying on the east side of the Chattahoochee. 
Crossing the ferry, they entered the public square, 
where they found Col. Mcintosh, one of the chiefs. 
Mr. Capers gave him some letters, and" was told 
that an interview would be* afforded him 6n the next 
morning. 

Here he witnessed an Indian ball-play. As one 
of the principal sports of savage life, Mr.:Capers*s 
description of it may interest the reader : " There 
now arrived a company of players, who, upon 
coming up to the square, raised a yell, and ran furi- 
ously around, whooping and yelling, with short, 
exact pauses as they ran — every individual changing 
his voice and pausing simultaneously. I confess I 
felt what might be called a fine effect. Waugh, 



236 LIF^ OF WILLIAM' OAPBRS. 

waugh, waugh, distinctly hallooed by an hundred 
loud voices, every one breathing a like sound at the 
same breath, and pausing between the repetition 
just long enough for the full play of the lungs 
upon the sound that should follow ; and the deep, 
full glound of waugh, suddenly, but with the nicest 
precltfdn, lifted into a most piercing yell — and 
this, 'in turn, changed for a softer note — and then 
all alternated, produced a pleasurable amazement. 
I could hot but observe how well adapted was the 
arrangement of the sounds, and the time they were 
uttered in, to produce the loudest eflfort of the 
voice with the least fatigue. This exercise was 
called' a challenge, and I suppose those who per- 
formed it were to act together in the play. They 
had reduced their dress to a single piece of blue or 
red woollen cloth, thirty or forty inches long and 
eight wide, passing closely under the body, and 
supported by a strong string about the waist, the 
ends falling over the string and forming a flap 
before and behind. These flaps were narrowed 
down to four inches width, or tapered to a point, 
and bound with green, red, or yellow ferretting, 
according to the taste and ability of the wearer. 
It is the only garment that modesty obliged an 
Indian to wear. Fastened under the string that 
supports this nameless coveringj from the bottom 
of the back rising upwards to the shoulder-blade, 
the more highly ornamented players wore a tail of 
the tiger, or fox, or wolf, or furs twisted together 
BO as to resemble this; and sometimes a single 



INDIAN BALL-PLAY. 287 

feather, or a mop of them, taken from the goose, 
or cock, or owl, substituted a plume. These, with 
wide woollen garters, earrings, and a little paint 
or soot blotched upon the face, dressed them to 
their highest wishes. 

" But more remarkable than even their undress 
or their music, was the wonderful manner of their 
running round a small tree during the challenge. 
Huddled together within a diameter of thirty or 
forty feet, every individual was in rapid motion, 
without contracting or extending the circle, and 
with such regularity that those nearest the centre 
never jostled each other. Their regularity was 
like the wheeling of a platoon, and the swiftness 
of their motion like a wheel upon its axle. 

" The challenge over, they went oft* separately, 
and we soon after followed to the place of their 
amusement. It was a level but not very open 
piece of mixed woods, about three hundred yards 
distant from the square. We were quite in time 
to observe all the preparation for the play. Two 
small saplings, at their base four feet apart, 
and inclined outwards at top, were stuck into the 
earth at either end of the ball-ground, a distance 
of one hundred and fifty yards. Just beyond, at 
the nearer pair of poles, a company of players were 
irregularly tossing and catching a ball with their 
sticks ; and nearer us the women and children were 
squatted about, listlessly waiting the play. A 
number of Indians (and the number constantly in- 
creasing) were lounging all about us. Here wae 



^38 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

TuBtunanggee Hopoi (the Little Prince) and M<^ 
Intosfa ; the one sitting on the bare gronnd, with 
his back supported against a tree ; the other lying 
at full length, undistinguished among the herd of 
loiterers. I was surprised to observe them neither 
better dressed nor more attended than the rest. 
Hopoi's countenance was more in character than 
his apparel ; but Mcintosh, with a shrewder look, 
that would seem to hide himself, discovered nothing 
of the chief about him. 

" Here and there I could observe one proposing 
a wager. A pair of bells, tobacco, and some money 
were exposed for betting ; but bets were not fre- 
quent. The hurried action of the increased com- 
pany of players, apprised us that the play would 
soon commence. Now the opposite company of 
players were discovered beyond the farther pair of 
poles. A well-dressed Indian, mounted on a good 
pony, galloped hastily along the ground from party 
to party, as if to arrange for their coming together. 
Immediately those I had first observed huddled 
themselves for the challenge. This was begun a 
little beyond and to the left of the poles, and con- 
tinued as at the square, only that the group main- 
tained a direction toward the poles at the same 
time with their swift vertical running. When op- 
posite the poles, their opponents exhibited the same 
manoeuvre, and then, with the wildest gesticula- 
tion and great clamor, both parties ran together. 

*' Lovett had placed himself midway between the 
polesy and served as the pivot on which the whole 



INDIAN BALL-PLAT. SW 

seemed to turn for five minutes ; while their whoopi 
and yells (measured and alternated as before, but 
with redoubled violence) roused the whole con- 
course of spectators to their feet. A pause ensued. 
The equal number of the parties was ascertained 
by their laying down in opposite rows their ball- 
sticks. These resemble a battledoor, only that the 
hooped end of the stick is not so broad, and, instead 
of being overlaid with parchment, has only a few 
slack strings drawn across the hoop, close enough to 
retain the ball, and not so slack as to entangle it. 
There were one hundred and fifty pair of sticks, 
and these ascertained to be equally divided, Seven- 
ty-five players being on either side. 

" The parties having been found equal, each took 
up their sticks, and placed themselves promiscu- 
ously about the ground, the greater number stand- 
ing near the centre. Every countenance was ex- 
pressive of eager expectation until the ball was 
tossed up and the play began. Either party strove 
against the other to throw the ball between an op- 
posite pair of poles, for which purpose the sticks 
only were to be used. Their dexterity in this, and 
their adroitness in foiling each other, were indeed 
surprising. As soon as either party had succeeded 
to throw the ball between the poles, another 
was tossed up from the centre of the ground ; and 
their violent exercise, without the slightest inter- 
mission, was continued nearly three hours. Each 
party had gained the ball seventeen times, when 
Qie dusk of evening concluded their unfinished 



240 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERS. 

game. Mcintosh signified to them that they should 
desist, and placed himself for their rally ing-point, 
round which their shouts and yells were bellowed 
forth with more breath than ever; and they all 
dispersed. 

" It would be difficult to tell the feelings under 
which my mind labored through the scenes of this 
day. I hope I have never been insensible to the 
moral condition of the heathen ; and since my ap- 
pointnient as the Conference missionary, it has 
employed my thoughts and my care far more than 
formerly. I had read something and imagined 
more, but the scene was laid at too great a distance. 
I had not supposed that so close at the door of 
civilized man — just beyond sight of the Bible and 
the sound of our sacred services — there could exist 
so gross a state of human degradation. The 
evidence of my own senses, in the sudden, shame- 
ful scene at the river, amazed and dejected me; 
and now, that for four long hours I had witnessed 
the whole parade of whooping and yelling, of paint 
and nakedness, I had scarcely any spirit left.'* 

They passed the night at Noble Kennard*s, one 
of the head men at Coweta, and brother-in-law of 
Mcintosh, who had distinguished himself in the 
late war. The next morning Mcintosh, accom- 
panied with Lovett as an interpreter, waited on 
Mr. Capers. He was a half-breed, understood Eng- 
lish very well, and had served under Gen. Jackson 
in the Seminole war in 1818. Indian etiquette re- 
quired, however, that he should communicate with 



■N 



PBELIMINARIES SETTLED* 241 

Mr. Capers only through an interpreter. He intro- 
duced the conversation by saying that he had come 
as he had promised, and waited to hear what was 
to be said. Mr. Capers replied that he came only 
on the errand of charity, as the agent of the Church, 
and under the patronage of government. The gov- 
ernment wished to better the condition of the In- 
dians by having their children instructed, and the 
Churches felt it their sacred duty to go forward in 
this good work; that neither their money northeir 
lands were sought, but only an opportunity to do them 
good ; that for eight months he had been employed 
in preaching and making collections to defray the 
expenses of a school, and was ready to introduce 
one among them ; that, to assure the chiefs of his 
good intentions, and the benevolence of the Church 
he represented, he had letters from Gov. Clark, and 
from Generals Meriwether, Mcintosh, and Mitchell, 
of Georgia, all which Col. Blount would read to 
him ; and that he had also a letter from Mr. Cal- 
houn, Secretary of War, to Mr. Crowell, their 
agent; and, finally, that he had committed to 
writing the substance of what he had to propose to 
the chiefs. Mcintosh wished to hear the letters 
read, and the paper that contained the " talk" to the 
3hiefs, saying at the same time that neither he nor 
the chiefs then at Coweta could conclude any thing 
on the business, but must wait a General Council 
of all the chiefs of the nation, without which, and 
the consent of the agent, no white man could be 

permitted to live among them. The papers were 
16 



^2 LIFfi OF WILLIAM CAPBB8. 

aoeordlDgly read by CoL Blount ; after which life' 
Intodh signified his approval of the proposed obj^cf^ 
and appeared pleased with the conditions specified. 
He saggested that the papers should be confided to 
Lovett until the meeting of the Council, which he 
)^sured Mr. Capers should be held as soon as poa* 
sible afber the agent's return. 

In October Mr. Capers made a second visit to 
the Creeks, accompanied by the Rev. C. Q. Hill, 
Who had been selected to reside in the nation in 
the event of a successful application. The National 
Council was held early in November, and the 
articles of agreement submitted were accepted by 
the chiefs. Mr. Hill was left to board with Lovett, 
and Mr. Capers set out immediately for Augusta 
to procure supplies and employ workmen ; having 
shown address equal to his zeal in managing a 
negotiation peculiarly difficult under the circum- 
stances. On his way back he attended a camp* 
meeting in Jones county. The transitioti from an 
Indian council to a camp-meeting awakened strong 
emotions in him ; he describes his feelings in the 
following paragraph: ^^It was night, and I had 
lost my way, but my mind was intent upon the 
meeting. I was hasting to forget the vulgar scenes 
of savage life in the solemn services of our Im- 
manuel. I was prepared to admire the illuminatcid 
ground, the multitude of worshippers, the order of 
the encampment, when, at 8 o'clock in the eveliing, 
I reached this happy place. ^ Blessed is the nation 
whose God is the Lord !' Blessed be God who hath 



. ^EHS MISSION BEGUK. $243 

fhade tl8 sach a nation! Here are they Whcf loV€ 
and serve the Saviour. Here the hard heart is 
troken, and the penitent rejoice. The Church ex- 
ults in Christy-Christ owns the Church. I too will 
rejoice in this great mercy. When shall all flesh 
see the salvation of God ? . "When shall the no^ 
imbruted Indian * call Jesus Lord by the Holy 
Ghost ?' Christians, by all the blessings you enjoy, 
charge yourselves to pray and care for these." 

In the course of the next year, mission premises 
were erected one mile west of the Chattahoochee^ 
not far from Coweta. The station was named 
after the venerable Asbury, and was served by the 
Rev. Isaac Smith, the appointment of Mr. Capers 
as superintendent being continued. Oppositioh, 
however, soon showed itself. One of the chiefe. 
Big Warrior, openly avowed himself hostile to the 
work of preaching the gospel among the Indiatifs. 
Some degraded white men, who lived on thfe 6ut- 
skirts of the nation, in the " back-Water" of the 
stream of civilization, encouraged this opposition. 
The agent had little use for preachers^ though he 
did not so far violate the instructions of the Secre- 
tary of War as to oppose the scihool project. In 
the face of these discouragements Mr. Smith opened 
a school consisting of twelve Indian children. The 
iiutnber doubled itself in a week. And during the 
five or six years of its continuance, until the rjBt- 
moval of the Creeks beyond the Mississippi^ tUe 
^mission school varied from thirty-five to 6.S[y 
scholars in regular attendance. , The progtees i6f 



244 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

the children in learning was satisfactoiy, although 
the Creek nation was considered inferior in intel- 
ligence to their neighbors, the Cherdkees. There is 
preserved in the museum of Wofford College a 
memento of the capabilities of the Indian boys. 
It is a copy, in Roman letters, of one of the Meth- 
odist hymns, commencing: 

** Come, thou Omniscient Son of man," 

which was made in the presence of Mr. Smith, by 
an Indian lad, nearly grown up, who came in 1822 
to the mission school, and requested to be taken as 
a scholar. The school was pretty full, and the mis- 
sionaries did not prefer to take so large a pupil. 
To make a favorable impression of his abilities, he 
went to a desk and copied, without knowing a 
letter, the hymn aforementioned. The specimen 
of native genius thus executed is highly creditable, 
and the boy was admitted. 

The United States Government, wisely, and in 
accordance with the wishes of the great body of the 
American people, made, at that period of the his- 
tory of Indian affairs, an annual appropriation of 
ten thousand dollars, for the purpose of aiding in 
the civilization of the Indian tribes. In 1824 ap- 
propriations were made to twenty educational 
establishments, principally Presbyterian and Bap- 
tist, set on foot for the improvement of the In- 
dians ; among these there was one of five hundred 
dollars made to the Mission Committee of the 
Ohio Conference, in behalf of the mission school 



AT MILLBDGEVILLB. 245 

among the Wyandots. From first to last, the As- 
bury mission school among the Creeks received not 
a dollar of the government appropriations. The 
whole burden of sustaining it was met by voluntary 
contributions within the limits of the South Caro- 
lina Conference — then embracing Georgia. Mr. 
Capers gave his full strength and time, during 1821 
and 1822, to the task of soliciting these contri- 
butions. A gratifying success attended his efforts, 
though they involved protracted absences from his 
family, and' much fatigue and exposure in horse- 
back travelling, and no small amount of preaching. 
His noble devotion to the cause of missions, illus- 
trated by the whole course of his life, has left its 
impress on the Conference of which he was a 
distinguished member. Several of the sermons 
preached by him in the CH)urse of these two years, 
Were regarded at the time as among the most 
powerful efforts of the American pulpit. 

During the two following years, Mr. Capers was 
stationed at Milledgeville, Georgia, and continued 
Superintendent of the Asbury Mission. His family 
had spent the former part of 1822 in Sumter Dis- 
trict, South Carolina, at the residence of the Rev. 
T. D. Glenn, a brother-in-law ; and the latter part 
of the year in the hospitable mansion of his early 
and long-continued friend, John H, Mann, Esq., 
of Augusta, Georgia. At Milledgeville there was 
no parsonage ; but Governor Clark, whose wife was 
a Methodist lady, having moved to a summer 
retreat at Scottsboro', a short distance from Mil- 



LIF^ OF WILLIAM GAFBRS. 

l^geville, his residence, handsomely furni8h«d, 
Wf^e j^iiidly put at the disposal of the stewards £>« 
Mr* Cq^pers's purposes. In the course of the year 
^ PiS^pe^uage was built and well furnished, and Mr. 
Cp^rs rftoved into it in 1824. The location proved 
to\be unhealthy, and the children were sick with 
bilious fever. On the 15th October, his little 
daughter^ Esther Anslie, died. His daughter 
Susan was so ill that all hope of her recovery was 
given up. On Sunday morning, the Methodisifc 
church, being the only one open at that tinue, was 
crowded. As the time for Divine service approach-' 
ed, a paipful conflict arose in Mr. Capers's mind^ 
between the sense of duty to a large congregation,, 
and the distressing apprehensions of a father's fenel- 
ings that his child would die while he was absent. 
His hesitation was only for a moment. Kneeling- 
by her bed he committed her case to God, took 
leave of her, and went to the church. Just then, 
the femily physician, Dr. Williamson, came in, 
and after administering some medicine, had the 
pleasure to witness a speedy change for the better 
in the sick child. The Doctor told Mrs. Capers 
that he would relieve Mr. Capers's mind by an- 
nQuncing tiie change to him ; and accordingly went 
ii^to the church, and quietly approaching the pulpit, 
interrupted the sereaion for a moment by whisper- 
iag the pleading intelligence. The painful erao> 
tio^ of the audience, all of whom knew the feet gIj 
the child's extreme illness, was immediately re-: 
Lif!yed by a brief aanoui^cement of the rows hrfrngM: 



AT MILLEDaBTILLB. 347> 

him by the physician. He resumed his sermon 
with a deepened throb of gratitude to God, and 
with pow^erful effect upon the listeners. He preach- 
ed again, in the afternoon, and at night; and the 
pulpit ministrations of that day, which had risen 
in such gloom ovw the pastor's family, were me- 
morable as the means of conversion to several 
persons, and of great spiritual good to many 
others. 

During most of the time his Sunday's work was 
a sunrise sermon at the Peniteptijiry, aiicjl three 
sjdrvice» at his own church, besides administering 
cat^iohetical inatructiiou to the childreia, in the io- 
tarsrak &£ public worship. God was wijbh him, and 
made hi& labors a blessing to mmy so^ls. lie 
eajoyed the peapect 9^4 confidence of the com- 
mumtjr, aad left th/e people of his chargje with d^ep 
aQ4 mutual regrets at parting. I{e had attended, 
in M«y, thd Sjeasion of the Geuar^l Conference held 
at Baltiiiu>re, as on^ of the (iel^g^s pf the Soutji 
Cftvoliaa GonfereBce. 



. J 



248 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 



CHAPTEB II. 

Stationed in Charleston — ^Editor of the Wesleyan Journal — ^Appointed 
Presiding Elder — Defence of Bishop Soule's Sermon — Elected De- 
legate to the British Conference. 

From Milledgeville Mr. Capers was removed to 
Charleston, South Carolina. In this station there 
were three churches of respectable size, and a 
small chapel in the suburbs — all united in one pas- 
toral charge, which was placed in the hands of Mr. 
Capers. The South Carolina Conference at that 
time extended from the Cape Fear river to Ala- 
bama. This large field was divided into eight 
Presiding Elders' Districts, and embraced a mem- 
bership, white and colored, of forty-two thousand. 
In the city of Charleston, there were in the com- 
munion of the Methodist Episcopal Church four 
hundred and thirty-one whites, and two thousand 
seven hundred and forty-seven colored. The col- 
leagues of Mr. Capers were the Rev. Messrs. Manly, 
Hoskins, and Olin. The health of Mr. Olin was 
bad, and he was able to do no pastoral work ; in- 
deed, it was only with the hope that he might have 
sufficient strength to edit the Wesleyan Journal, 
that he had been again stationed in Charleston 
after the failure of his health during the year pre- 



THE WESLEYAN JOURNAL. 24ft 

ceding. The labors of a preacher in charge in 
Charleston prior to the separation of the charges, 
were severe indeed. He was liable to be called 
upon at every hour of the day ; every evening was 
occupied with an official meeting or in public wor- 
ship ; and besides three sermons on Sunday, he had 
on his hands the administration of the affairs of a 
society numbering upwards of three thousand 
souls. All this was enough to tax to the utmost 
the capabilities, mental and physical, of any man. 
The parsonage-house was a small wooden building, 
erected in the time of Bishop Asbury, terribly hot 
in summer, and with few conveniences in its fix- 
tures. Mr. Capers occupied this house two years, 
preaching regularly three times on Sunday, and 
discharging the other duties of his office. 

On the 1st of October, 1825, the Wesleyan Journal 
made its cUbuL It was the second Methodist paper 
published in the United States. It had been pro- 
jected by Mr. Olin, and adopted by the Conference, 
which made provisional arrangements for its pub- 
lication under the editorial supervision of Mr. 
Capers, in case Mr. Olin's health did not permit 
him to undertake its management. As there was 
no prospect that Mr. 01in*s services could be put 
in requisition, the Journal was brought out, at the 
date aforementioned, by Mr. Capers. In making his 
editorial salutations to the patrons of the Wesleyan 
Journal, Mr. Capers said : " We feel the want of 
Mr. Olin keenly, but we cannot shrink from the 
performance of a duty which, without our choice, 



250 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

18 thus providentially cmt upon us. We use ua 
disguise. The Wesleyaq Journal, in our hands, 
cannot and will not pretend to learning. We con- 
fess we know not how to gauge the ancients ; not 
can we fix the measure of the moderns. We pro- 
fess, however, to have measured ourselves. We 
have been schooled in jcomimon life, and claim the 
advantage of common sense ; and without affecting 
what transcends our stature, we will use our mid- 
dling, eommoursense ability, to as great advantage 
as we can. We honor learning, and suppose we 
can distinguish her fine gold from tinsel pedantry. 
We admire wit and genius; but there is a little 
limping, waggish fellow, whom we will not know. 
We labor to promote the interests of religion, and 
we wish to do it as religious men. We will * fol- 
low after things which make for peace, and things 
wherewith one m^y edify another.' '' 

It is matter of surprise that Mr. Capers should 
have consented to assume, in addition to pastoral and 
pulpit labors already taxing his full strength, the 
responsibilities and cares peculiar to the editor'a 
chair. Especially, with a quick sensibility, a ner- 
vous temperament, keen to &el the sting of a 
thousand petty anokoyances which bristle around 
the tripod ; with 9^ trainiiiig that went altogether in 
tke directipn of extemporaneous address, ^nd ux>t 
e^rcised i-n written composition ; with meagre re- 
abOiirces in the way of exchanges ; with no corps of 
pledged or paid oorr^spondents ; — that, in spite of 
9il th^e embarrassments, he should have che^^^ 



CHRISTIAN ADVQCATS AND JOURNAL. 251 

fully accepted the task put upon bim by bis breth- 
reu, is, a bigh proof of unselfish devotion to the 
interests of the Church. The Journal, in his hands, 
exhibited a steady loyalty to th/e central truths of 
Christianity ; his selections were mainly from the 
writings of Wesley and Fletcher, lacking variety 
perhaps, and of a cast somewhat too didactic, bui 
meant chiefly for religious edification ; and his edi- 
torials were brief, but bold to censure what he 
deemed worthy of rebuke. 

In September of the following year, the Chris- 
tian Advocate was issued from the Book Room, 
at New York, under the editorship of Mr. Badger, 
who had relinquished the editorial management of 
Zion's Herald in Boston, the first Methodist paper 
published in this country. At the session of the 
South Carolina Conference, at the close of 1826, 
resolutions were adopted, instructing the Publish- 
ing Committee of the Wesleyan Journal to nego- 
tiate with the Book Agents at New York for a union 
of the two papers. The reasons alleged for this 
course, were, 1st. The desirableness of patronising 
a paper the profits of which were distributed 
equally among all the Annual Conferences of the 
Connection ; 2d. The general desire for a Connexj- 
tion^ paper; aiid 3d. An apprehension of damage 
from the multiplication of local presses. Accord-^ 
ingly, arrangements were made by which jthe 
Wesleyan Journal was merged in the Ohristiaa. 
Advocate, which thence bore the title, ^' Christuw* 
Adyojcateand J.ournal," 



252 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBBS. 

Mr. Capers maintained throughout the two years 
his position as an able, eloquent, and popular 
preacher ; though he was able to visit his flock but 
little. The four years succeeding were spent on 
the Charleston District, in the office of Presiding 
Elder. Removing his family to a residence in 
Coming street, he entered with fine spirits upon 
the duties of his new office. The district over 
which he presided embraced the scope of country 
lying between San tee and Savannah rivers, and ex- 
tending from Charleston to the neighborhood of 
Columbia. He had been relieved from the confine- 
ment and woriy of editing the Journal, and was 
allowed to breathe free amidst the solitudes of the 
grand old woods. The afikirs of the district were 
administered with the punctuality and ability which 
belonged to his character; and his preaching at- 
tracted large crowds at his Quarterly Meetings. 
In the spring of 1827, at a camp-meeting held some 
twelve or fourteen miles above Charleston, he 
preached a most masterly and impressive sermon, 
on the text, " Go and show John again those things 
which ye do hear and see,** etc. His main posi- 
tions were, that Christianity furnishes in its gra- 
cious provisionsL a divine power to meet the moral 
necessities of human nature ; and that in the appli- 
cation and realization of this power, stands an irre- 
fragable evidence, to the renewed soul, of the 
divinity and truth of the gospel. He went into no 
deep and curious speculation in regard to the modus 
of that spiritual influence of which he was discours- 



A GREAT SERMON. 253 

> 

ing; nor did he seek to settle with metaphysical 
acuteness the precise border lines between this 
mighty and mysterious power, and the moral 
agency over which it is never wont to break with 
irresistible flow of energy. But grouping together 
the undeniable facts of human nature in its rela- 
tions to God, moral government, and the eternal 
state — its blindness, callousness, alienation ; its 
profound torpor, on its religious side, contrasted 
with its vigor, vivacity, and depth of susceptibility 
on its earthly side — he made out the case of man's 
spiritual necessities and moral predicament, with a 
compactness of thought and a fervor of soul which 
poured itself forth in the most graphic, fresh, and 
telling illustrations. Having clearly delineated the 
necessities which occasioned the Divine mercy in 
redemption by Jesus Christ, he went on to show 
how precisely the elements entering into the scheme 
of recovery met the wants of man. As he set 
forth the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,'' as the 
great healing, saving powers he rose into a strain of 
eloquent speech, which stirred the blood as with a 
clarion's notes. At his master-touch, the shams of 
mere ritualism, the plausibilities of a so-called 
liberal Christianity, the religionism of the pic- 
turesque and the sentimental, faded into thin air. 
He showed how utterly insufficient was the whole 
troop of them to meet the solemn exigences of the 
case; and how above them all towered in majestic 
grandeur the saving power of the gospel. " Power, 
power !" he exclaimed, in a voice, at its full than* 



'254 ' LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

der, rollings flame-girt words over the assembled 
thousands aroutid him: "you offer me a religion; 
I demand, can it open the blind eyes of my soul to 
the interests of my eternity? Can it invest with 
reality to my convictions the things of faith ? Can 
it unstop my deaf ears to the voice of God and 
duty ? Can it waft the spirit of health, and life, 
and love, to my disordered, leprous soul ? Can it 
raise me from the death of sin to the life of righte- 
ousness?'* He held that no power of man, or of 
education, of outward circumstances, or of inward 
resolution^ could avail. What the soul wanted and 
tnust have, was just what Christ and the gospel 
offered — Divine power. And now, as nothing but a 
true religion could bestow such an investiture of 
the spirit, so the Realization of its mighty and 
saving results in the spiritual nature was, in turn, 
the most valid and effective of proofs that Christ is 
the Son of God, and his gospel the word of truth 
as well as of salvation. This position was main- 
tained with a force and clearness in keeping with 
the former part of the sermon. The usual flueticy, 
elegance, and facility of the preacher, were on this 
occasion merged in an extraordinary strength-^ 
even vehemence, which ranked the serttion among 
the noblest specimens of pulpit oratory. 

At the session of the South Carolina Conference 
held in Augusta, January, 1827, Bishop Soule 
preached a masterly sermon on the "Perfect Law 
of Liberty." By a resolution moved by Mr. Capers, 
aad secotided by Mr., now Bishops Andrew^ th<i 



B^EFBKDS BISHOP SOtLS. 2«U 

CtonfeTence unanimously and earnestly requested 
its publication. When it appeared in prints it was 
reviewed in a series of ai'tieles written by a Presby- 
terian minister of some pretensions, and published 
in the Charleston Observer. More ado was made 
concerning this review than its actual merits war- 
ranted. It was a palpably unfair attempt to convict 
the Bishop of heresy — of holding a system of doc- 
trine "dangerously and ruinously false!** The 
gist of this false teaching was the proposition main- 
tained by Bishop Soule, that mail, being redeemed 
by the death of Christ, is not held obliged to the 
performance of the Adaraic law, as a eonclitim of 
life; but that his relations to God are so far affected 
by the covenant of grace as that, instead of beifig 
under the original laWj "Do this and live," the con- 
ditions are now, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and thou shalt be saved." This sound '4lM Meftrty 
defined principle, underlying the whole scheme of 
redemption by the sacrifice of Chriflt, was thought 
by the writer in the Observe!* to be equivalent to 
the proposition that "the gospel has released man 
from all obligation to speak right, to thitik right, 
or to feel right." And this was charged on the 
venerable Bishop. 

Mr. Capers and Mr. Andrew, under their proper 
names, solicited, as an act of justice, the privilege 
of b^ing heard in vindication of the Bishop's ser- 
mon, in the paper which had assailed it ; but being 
refused, they published a pamphlet containing six 
letters to the editor of the Observer. These were 



266 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

written by Mr. Capers. They were sufficiently 
caustic. He was not given to dandling on the 
knees of loving professions, opponents whom the 
defence of his own Church called him to withstand, 
point to point, and opinion against opinion. In 
this case, the absurdities of the reviewer might 
safely have been left to find their way into a speedy 
oblivion. It may be remarked, however, that Mr. 
Capers, though quick to resent what he conceived 
to be an unjustifiable attack on the principles of 
revealed truth, was yet far removed from the posi- 
tion of a controversialist preacher. He agreed 
with his friend Dr. Olin, in the conviction that 
controversies about the opinions which divide the 
Christian sects that preach and experience salva- 
tion by the blood of the Lamb and through the 
sanctification of the Spirit, are apt to be productive 
of evil iBthet* than good ; that more is lost to kind 
and Christian feeling than is gained to orthodoxy ; 
and that when difterences of opinion cannot be 
settled to the satisfaction of the litigant parties by 
the Bible itself, the last appeal, it is not wise to 
excite and perpetuate passions which are fatal to 
Christian character, with the uncertain hope of 
extirpating errors which the narrowest charity does 
not regard as barriers to salvation. And there 
have been few preachers of eminence whose min- 
istrv was more catholic in its tone than that of Dn 
Capers, or embraced a larger circle of admirers 
beyond the pale of their own denominations. 
In the autumn of 1827, the family of Mr. Capers 



GENERAL CONFERENCE. 257 

were visited by yellow fever. He was very ill for 
several weeks; his brother LeGrand, and his 
daughters Anna and Susan, being attacked at the 
same time. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Capers was 
taken down. The kindest attentions possible were 
shown the afflicted family. Mrs. J. O. Andrew 
took the youngest child ; Dr. Dickson, the family 
physician, took the eldest son, Francis; both of 
whom, by this kind intervention of attached friends, 
escaped. By the blessing of God, all who had 
been sick recovered. Mr. Capers, as soon as his 
strength allowed, resumed his labors on the dis- 
trict. 

In May, 1828, he attended the session of the 
General Conference, held at Pittsburg. On the 
14th of May he wrote to Mrs. Capers as follows : — 
"I have been greatly pressed with a solicitation 
from many brethren to suffer myself to be con- 
sidered a candidate for the place of Agent of the 
Book Concern, insomuch that at one time I was even 
induced to yield a reluctant consent; but to-day 
I have strongly declined it, and think that I shall 
be able with a good conscience to avoid the nomi- 
nation, which had been pretty far concluded. The 
prospect, however, is considerably on the other 
side, of my being sent as the Representative of the 
Church in America to that in Great Britain. No- 
thing conclusive has transpired on this subject, but 
you know the grounds on which I should not be 
free to excuse myself, if the General Conference 
elect me. Bishop Hedding, this day, took an 
17 



258 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

opportunity privately to explain why lie had pre- 
ferred another ; and wa8 pleased to say that it was 
not in the least owing to any want of respect for me, 
but only because he thought my circumstances, as 
the owner of slaves, would render my appointment 
unpleasant in some sections where there exist 
strong prejudices on the subject of such circum- 
stances. Even if the General Conference should 
put this duty upon me, I suppose I may be able to 
see you before I go to fulfil it. There will be no 
new Bishops made at this Conference. We move 
very slowly in our business, owing to the great 
number of members, say, one hundred and seventy- 
seven, all of them speakers by profession, and 
many very fond of talking." 

It is proper to state that the General Conference 
of 1824 had instructed the Bishops to choose and 
appoint a Representative, and send him to the 
British Conference in 1826. A meeting of the 
Bishops had been held at Baltimore, in April, 1826, 
and Bishops McKendree and Soule had supported 
the appointment of Mr. Capers; Bishops George 
and Hedding wished Dr. Fisk appointed. This 
diflference of opinion had led to the postponement 
of the election until the meeting of the General 
Conference, when the subject was formally brought 
up in the address of the Bishops. 

The biographer of Bishop Hedding states, that 
the ground of his objection was that Mr. Capers 
was a slaveholder. He adds that the intelligent 
reader will infer that "the aggressive movementa 



ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE. 259 

of slavery, which finally led to the disruption of the 
Church, were not wholly without Episcopal sanc- 
tion at a very early date." While it may require 
some extraordinary intelligence to perceive how 
slavery was making any movement at all, we are 
willing to accept the fact that the senior Bishop of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, the venerable 
McKendree, with his able and far-sighted colleague 
Bishop Soule, did maintain as far back as 1826, 
the equ/dity of the Southern ministry in the Con- 
nectional union. If this was a pro-slavery move- 
ment, then let it be observed that the General 
Conference of 1828 endorsed the action and reasons 
of the two Bishops by electing a slaveholder as their 
Representative. The ingenuity of Quarterly Re- 
viewers can readily distort this fact into another 
proof that the Methodist Episcopal Church has 
always been abolitionist. 

On May 17th, Mr. Capers wrote the following 
brief letter to his wife : 

"I have been this day elected to the undesirable 
distinction of being the Representative of the 
American Methodist Church to that of Great 
Britain. I could not decline being a candidate, 
for reasons which you know ; and besides the im- 
portant principle, involving the interests generally 
of all the Southern preachers, I could not decline 
because of the unpleasant dilemma in which it 
would have placed those of the Bishops who had 
BO perseveringly maintained my nomination. I 
•till hope, but cannot even now be certain, that J 



26a LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBES. 

may see yoa before I go to England. If prac- 
ticable, you may be sure I will go to Charleston 
before I set out for Liverpool ; and if so, I shall be 
m haste, and will probably be with you by the last 
of the first week in June.*' 

On the 19th May, he says: "I this morning 
obtained the consent of the Qeneral Conference to 
my absence during the remainder of its session, 
with a view to my being enabled to go to Charles- 
ton. I expect to take the stage for Baltimore to- 
morrow night — no stage going earlier; will pro- 
bably reach there on the night of the 23d inst. ; 
and will then be governed by circumstances whether 
I go by sea or land to Charleston. Our Conference 
has been more harmonious than had been expected. 
We have done little that affects the rules of Dis- 
cipline; but I think the session now present has 
done much of great importance to the Church in 
her present circumstances.** 

After spending a week or two with his family, he 
sailed for New York, where he arrived on the 18th 
June. Here he met Bishop George, obtained his 
instructions, and engaged a passage to Liverpool 
in the packet-ship "John Jay.** In a letter to Mrs. 
Capers, he says : " I have received the kindest at- 
tentions fretn all who have come in my way. Be 
not jealous of me for saying this. My home is 
in Charleston still. My children are there; and 
above every thing and everybody else, my wife is 
khera I wish I could give you but one more kiss 
fci^cure I leave my eountry for a foreigu land» I 



CORRBSPONDBNCE. 261 

tiow can only tell you so ; and to-morrow I shall 
not have the liberty of even so much as this. But 
don't mind it. Remember your confidence in 
prayer, and know that even here, where I am a 
stranger, there are many and mighty prayers put 
up for me. I wish you could have heard, last night, 
how brother Waugh, concluding the service after I 
had preached, prayed for me, and for you, and our 
dear children also ; and how many loud aniens rung 
through the church. I had a blessed day yester- 
day — Sunday the 22d. My mouth was opened, 
and my heart enlarged, and the large congregations 
seemed to feel pretty generally a correspondent in- 
tei'est in the services. As I said before, so let me 
repeat : we know not what the Divine will may be ; 
but let us lose ourselves in God, and we shall in- 
fallibly come out on the right and best side. If 
we fully purpose in our hearts that * whether we 
live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we 
die unto the Lord,' he will take care, our conduct 
being consistent, that *we live and die the Lord's.* 
No accident, no danger, no enemies, can have 
power over us ; but in all places and at all times, 
we shall be wafe with Him. 

* Jesus protects: my fears, begone 1 

What can the Bock of Ages mote ? 
Safe in thy arms I lay me down, 
Thy everlasting arms of love.* 

Only think, my dear, that the Lord of heaven and 
earth should have come down to us in the form of 
our species, and walked upon the water, to teach 



262 LIFS OP WILLIAM CAPBBS. 

Qs not to fear ! He who made the winds and seas, 
will in answer to the prayers of his people, and fof 
his mercy's sake, be everywhere present along the 
whole course of our ship over the ocean, from New 
York to Liverpool, and back again to Charleston. 
He made the elements, and he controls them. 
And even if it should seem good to him to stop our 
progress, and bring us back no more, still you may 
not say we were lost at sea — none can be lost in 
God's hands. We are all mortal, and we all must 
die. But with respect to myself, surely the ap- 
parent danger of death is much greater in the 
usual course of duty on the Charleston District, 
than on the ocean. I feel a great desire, an earnest 
longing, to be more fully given up to God, and to 
be filled with the Spirit. Pray that I may be 
brought into a state of deep and uninterrupted 
communion with him. It is no easy matter for one 
in so elevated and responsible a station as I am 
now to sustain for a little while, and in such cir- 
cumstances as I shall be put into on board ship 
and in England, to acquit himself acceptably and to 
the profit of the Church. Most truly I feel that I 
am not suflicient for these things ; but blessed be 
God, there is ample sufficiency even for me, in 
Christ Jesus my Lord. To him, and him alone, I 
would look for aid, and depend on him with con- 
fidence for support. Bishop Hedding has just 
come in to take tea with me. - The Bishop has put 
up another heavenly prayer for us by name. What 
a privilege this is ! — that even we are borne on the 



i 



OORRESPONDENOB. 268 

hearts of so many before God, is surely cause for 
thanksgiving. Perhaps a thousand faithful prayers, 
or thousands of them, have been offered up, and 
will be offered up, for us and our children, which 
we never should have had but for the cross which 
is now laid upon us. May God hear and answer 
them for his name's sake." 



tttia OF WILLIAM CAPBRB. 



CHAPTER III. 

Embarks in the *'John Jay" — Voyage — Reception in England — 
Estimate of the leading Wesleyan preachers — Resolutions of the 
British Conference in acknowledgment of the visit of the Ameri- 
can Representative — Visits Dr. A. Clarke at Hajdon Hall — Re- 
turn voyage. 

Mr. Capers embarked, June 24th, on the John 
Jay, one of the Liverpool "liners.** In the har- 
bor oft* the lighthouse, he wrote to his wife the 
following letter : 

" I came down to the Battery this morning, at a 
quarter before ten o'clock, and found Bishops 
George and Hedding there, with a number of the 
brethren ; among whom were Dr. Emory, brother 
Matthias, Captain Wood, brother Dando, etc., all 
waiting to take leave of me, and look after me, as 
I should depart for the ship. I ought to have par- 
ticularly mentioned brother Francis Hall, a distin- 
guished member of the Church in New York, his 
wife, and his son and wife, among the number of 
those who put themselves to the trouble of a long 
walk to show this delicate mark of respect and love 
to the Representative of their Church — poor un- 
worthy me ! Brother Hall has even come on board 
the ship, and is going out to sea, to return with the 



pilot, to have, he says, the last of my presence m 
the port. By hin* I have an opportunity of send- 
ing this to you. Several of the preachers came 
down to the ship with me, in the steamboat from 
the city to the quarantine ground, and returned by 
the same conveyance. Well, I am now actually oft' 
for Liverpool. Wife and children, friends and coun- 
try are behind me. God is with me ; and with him 
I must do well. The number of passengers is but 
twelve, and there are but two ladies. The captaiu 
has given me a proof of his kind regards, exchang- 
ing my state-room for one in the ladies' cabin. 
Here, in the best part of the ship, I have a splendid 
little room to myself, large enough for my baggage, 
a table, and a chair, where I may be as- private as 
I please. This letter is written in it, and the 
writing of it is my first employment on board ship. 
Farewell, my dear, dear wife ; keep your heart from 
fear and trouble. Expect me at home again, safe 
and happy." 

This farewell letter was forwarded by Mr. 
Hall. 

His next letter to Mrs. Capers was dated off 
Dungaroon, on the coast of Ireland, July 15 : 

"A voyage across the Atlantic ocean could scarce- 
ly be made with more comfort and satisfaction 
than I have experienced on th.e present one. We 
have not had an hour's head-wind since we set sail 
at New York ; and for a fortnight the weather was 
so smooth that a common six-oared boat might have 
been perfectly safe on the roughest water we expe- 



266 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPBR8. 

rienced. The last six days have given as a rapid 
run, averaging nearly or quite tv^ haudred miles a 
day; and tliis morning, at about 5 o^elock, we came 
up to the coast of Ireland. We have been all day 
gliding smoothly, with light winds, along her bean> 
tiful shores, within full sight of lighthouses, forts, 
towers, towns, villages, mansions, and fields of 
lovely green, bordered out unth their fences of 
hawthorn, like a vast garden covering all the 
country. To-morrow will make three weeks since 
I left 2few York, and behold I am actually here 
already! I know that it is Ireland that I am be- 
holding, and still I cannot realize that I am three 
thousand miles from home. My voyage seems a 
dream. 

" Wednesday night, July 16. — We are now 
going over on the English side of the St. George's 
or Irish channel, and expect to see the coast of 
England as early as it is light in the morning. The 
coast of Ireland, along which we were sailing yes- 
terday, and until 3 o'clock to-day, is beautiful be- 
yond any thing you ever saw. Believe me, I felt 
every hour a tender sense of interest in it that I 
never knew before, because of its being the land 
of your forefathers. 

" Liverpool, July 17. — During the night we 
crossed the channel, and this morning at 5 o'clock 
were in view of the isle of Anglesea. I was for- 
tunate in having a fair, fine day to come into Liver- 
pool, and I improved it as well as I could to view 
the coast from the north-western extremity of 



— -1 



ARRIVAL AT LIVERPOOL. 267 

VTales to this far-famed commercial emporium. 
Wales is nothing to compare to Ireland for beauty 
along this shore. It generally presents rugged and 
bare old fields covered over with rocks ; and it is only 
in detached places that a few beautiful farms, clus- 
tered on a better soil, show a highly cultivated as 
well as a very old country. You never see wood- 
land, either here or on the coast of Ireland, except 
it be attached to some lordly estate as a pleasure- 
ground or park. I really thought, when I looked 
with enthusiasm upon the beautiful shores of 
Ireland, that I could scarcely find it equalled in 
England ; but the scenery along the shore of the 
country from the river Dee to this place, and par- 
ticularly that which lies on the Liverpool side of 
the river Mersey, is beautiful beyond Ireland, and 
beyond any idea that I could give you of it. We 
arrived at the dock in Liverpool at half-past one 
o'clock to-day, having made our passage in twenty- 
two and a half davs from New York. We found 
that the ship Helen Mar, the Majestic, the Olive 
and Eliza, and the General Brown, from Charles- 
ton, had arrived here before us ; and this deter- 
mines me to return direct to Charleston, if I can 
find a good ship, on my way home. I must here, 
in gratitude and duty, set down the kind, friendly, 
and obliging attentions which I have received from 
Captain Holdrege. On all the voyage he was every 
way a friend; and his attentions since we came 
into port have been even more obliging, if possible, 
than on board his ship. I think I said something 



268 LIFB OF WILLIA.M CAPBBS. 

aboat the ship before I left New York. I need add 
no -more than just this : that a better vessel, oi h 
finer one, I never expect to sail in. Our fare on 
the passage was equal to the elegant and splendid 
style of the ship. We had bread baked on board 
every day, and that which was excellent; our din- 
ner always consisted of several courses of meats, 
served in the handsomest manner, desserts of vari- 
ous kinds, and even fruits and nuts. Cider (just 
such as I wa« dreaming of in the yellow fever) that 
sparkled like champagne, various French and 
other wines, porter, etc., were at all hours as readi- 
ly at command as water. Indeed, there was every 
thing that I could wish, and very much more. I 
have not yet delivered my letters of introduction, 
having put up for a time under the wing of Captain 
Holdrege, and in company with several of my fel- 
low-passengers, whose society has been one of the 
pleasantcst accompaniments of one of the pleas- 
antest voyages that could have been made by me 
going so far from home. 

" Liverpool, July 19. — Mr. Newton was most of 
the day yesterday walking with me. I had stopped 
at the Star and Garter Hotel until I should get 
clear of the custom-house, before introducing my- 
self to any one here. He was the first of our 
brethren whom I saw, and immediately joined him- 
self with me for the day, taking a great deal of 
fatigue, with the kindest possible dispositions to 
show me honor and to serve me. He would be 
with me at the dock, at the custom-house ; secured 



ATTBMTIONS IN LIVBRPOOL. 269 

me aplendid accommodations, and dined with me, 
at the dwelling of Mr. Sands, (a wealthy and very 
respectable merchant;) procured such pecuniary 
accommodations as I wanted, and, indeed, put him^ 
self, and would put himself, to a deal of trouble for 
me. During the day and evening I have had the 
pleasure of the company of several of the preachers. 
This morning I would attend the preachers' weekly 
meeting, but business and company yesterday and 
last night hindered me from writing, and I must 
be in time with this for the earliest ship, so I give 
myself to my dear, dear wife. I could tell you 
a thousand things, and will when I get homo 
again. I am as happy as the richest and kindest 
accommodations, and the most tender, respectful 
attentions can make me, so far from home. But 
what would I give just that you might know that 
I am here in safety ! What would I give to be 
again at my own plain home, with my business 
here accomplished ! I must not indulge in this. 
I know that you are anxious, and, perhaps, even 
fearful. Let us trust in God, and we shall yet 
praise him again. 

"You see I have been writing to you ever since the 
15th. I hoped then I might find an earlier oppor- 
tunity. This is Saturday the 19th. On Monday I 
will set out with Mr. Newton and Mr. Tobias for 
London." 

On Sunday he preached for the Rev. Robert 
Kewton in the morning, and in the afternoon for 
the Rev, Mr, 8cott. In regard to his sermons he 



270 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

says : " I was much confused in the morning, but 
less 80 in the afternoon. On the whole, I feel rather 
more courage and composure than I expected T 
should, and encourage myself to believe that I 
shall do better as I get more used to my new cir- 
cumstances. In private and social intercourse I 
was never in my life more free, easy, and ready." 
His next letter is dated London, July 24th : 
" I left Liverpool in company with Messrs. New- 
ton and Tobias on Monday last, the 21st, and 
reached London on Tuesday evening. Our road 
lay over the most beautiful country, perhaps, in the 
world, for most of the way ; and, excepting ten or 
twelve miles, we travelled over all of it in the day- 
time. The part which we passed over in the night 
lies between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, a 
manufacturing district, where the whole country 
smokes and blazes with innumerable furnaces. It 
is remarkable that I should have had the night for 
this part of the road, where there is little of the 
elegance and beauty of the farming and grazing 
districts which compose all the rest of the distance. 
One thing only I regretted in it, (for under no cir- 
cumstances could I have stopped to examine any 
thing,) and that was, that Wednesbury, so famous 
for its violence towards the first Methodist preach- 
ers, lay just at this part of our road ; and, although 
I passed directly through it, I could see but very 
little of it. The blazing furnaces of this district 
have a strong effect at night. The manufactures 
are chiefly, if not entirely, of iron and steel. We 



BEACHES LONDON. 271 

reached Birmingham after 10 o'clock P. M., and 
passed the night there. In the morning at 7 
o'clock we set out for London, and reached here at 
7 o'clock in the evening. I was received with 
great kindness by Mr. Stephens, the President of 
the Conference ; and having ascertained that Mr. 
Newton and myself were to stay with Lancelot 
Haslope, Esq., of Highbury Lodge, (the same who 
now stands in the stead of the late lamented Mr. 
Butterworth, as general Treasurer of the Mission- 
ary Society,) we came to our temporary home in 
the great metropolis without much delay. 

"Yesterday I passed several hours with the sta- 
tioning committee, who, it seems, do their work 
before the Conference begins. Mr. Reece and Mr. 
Hannah met me at the President's house with great 
affection, Mr. Reece saying in his peculiar way, as 
he pressed my hand long and tenderly, ' You know 
I always wanted you to come.* I was introduced 
by him, and shook hands with Mr. Bunting, Mr. 
Gaulter, Mr. Edmonston, Mr. Entwistle, Mr. Wat- 
son, Mr. Sutpliffe, and others. Mr. Moore, Dr. 
Clarke, and others whom I expect soon to see, were 
not present. Mr. Newton is the Apollos of the 
Wesleyan Methodists as a public speaker, and par- 
ticularly so on the platform. His manners are 
very dignified, and yet exceedingly pleasant — con- 
verses freely, is very witty and full of anecdote, 
and is a finished gentleman as well as a very able 
man. Such a forehead as Mr. Watson's, I never 
looked at in my life. He is very thin and pale, with 



272 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

a wan face, which looks even narrower than it 
might, on account of the uuuaual size of his fore- 
head. Mr. Wataon is rather above six feet high, 
but I suppose he would not weigh much, if any 
thing, more than I do. He is acknowledged on all 
hands to be the ablest man in the Connection. I 
would not have recognized Mr. Bunting from any 
likeness I have seen of him ; indeed, he has too fine 
an eye to paint. His eye and Mr. Watson's fore- 
head surpass every thing. Mr. Bunting is a great 
business man, and possesses an acuteness and quick- 
ness which such an eye as his must indicate. He 
is also very remarkable for his great superiority in 
extemporaneous speaking — his words and sentences 
always flowing as freely and gracefully off at hand, 
as if they had been chosen and arranged with the 
greatest care. He is all activity and energy in the 
great cause of Methodism, and is certainly one of 
the first of her sons. He is rather under height — 
perhaps not more than five feet eight inches — and 
is inclined to be fat. The likenesses of him hitherto 
taken will, I hope, soon give way to a better one ; 
as he is expected to succeed the present President 
at the Conferouce about to be held, and it is a 
custom to have the likeness of every President 
taken. Mr. Edmonston, Mr. Entwistle, and Mr. 
Suteliffe, particularly the two former, are also 
among the leading men. They all three are aged 
and venerable, with countenances of the utmost 
benignity. 
*' Friday, 25th. — It is really humbling to m© to 



CORDIAL RECEPTION. 278 

receive the free and fiill and affectionate attentions 
which my present situation brings me, from men 
80 long and so greatly venerated. I had not anti- 
cipated it. I never can feel that I am an equal in 
their presence, and yet I am beginning already to 
feel more at ease, as I am more in their society. 
This morning Mr. Reece introduced me to Mr. 
George Marsden, one of the oldest, best, and most 
respectable of this venerable body of men. As he 
took me by the hand, his eyes melted upon th^ 
words, ' How happy I am to see a representative of 
the Church in America!' I have not yet had an 
opportunity to see much of London, owing to the 
wetness of the weather, in part, but more to my 
being occupied with the committees, and not being 
able to go much abroad through this wilderness 
world of a city, for fear of losing myself. It re- 
quires great effort to keep my spirits up, my dear 
wife — I cannot feel at home. I really feel to sigh, 
in spite of myself, for the humbler scenes of South 
Carolina. Still, I hope that I am enabled by God's: 
grace to sustain the character, responsible as it i^j 
in which I have been sent by the American Church, 
so as not to lower the home and the Church I love 
so well, in the eyes of any. I am exceedingly 
anxious — too much so — and cannot be otherwise; 
May God be with me. Truly, if I know my heart, 
my eye is single, and always has been so. 

" July 28. — To-day is Monday ; and on yesterday 
I preached for the first time in this world of a 

town. The appointment was made for me in the 
18 



8T4 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPSRS. 

Oreat Queen Street Chapel, the largest an4 mail 
■plendid huilding that I ever saw ae a M^tbodiat 
church. No church of any order in ObarleatQU 
can compare to it. Mr. H^ewton read prayefQi 
which he does to perfection ; and I preached, ^ 
well as I could, on Rom. x. 15. My heart wfia 
enlarged, and I had utterance for my feelings, if J 
had not much mind. Mr. Reeo0, Mr. l^ewton, an4 
many other preachers were there ; f^nd I am thaii]^- 
ful to know that they were satisfied with it. 1% 
was cheering to see tears in the eyes of sfioh a mau 
as Mr. Newton. 'I felt,' said he to me ^fterw$krdf(, 
< that your Master was with you.' Yep, trvily, Qo4 
was with me ; and I trust he will he with me to 
the end. 0, how earnestly do I throw myself wpon 
his gracious assistance ! On Saturday I thought \\ 
advisable to make a sort of speech before the Pqq]^ 
Committee, on the subject of a complete fsdition of 
Wesley's works ; and there also before the Presir 
dent, Messrs. Bunting, Watson, Newton, Reece, 
and many more whom I honor too much to speak 
before without help, I spoke freely, and was heard 
with much apparent interest, (cries of b^ar! hear! 
being frequently uttered,) and, J bftye reason to 
believe, to the satisfaction of the meeting. J ow^ 
very much to the goodness of these excellent mei^. 
Surely, if I ever felt the least q^easure of Cbristian 
humility, I feel it now." 

Tb^ British Confer^ftoe wt^s opened oq tb^ 80th 
^u|y, in the CJty Road Chapel. Mr. Buqtii^g wafi| 
dieted PFesid^pt, and Mr? Jf^wton S^ret^QF, 



«»<• 



INTRODUCED TO THE GONFERSNOE. 27& 

After the usual formalities, the Irish liepreseata* 
tives were announced and their address read. The 
President then expressed in handsome terms the 
great pleasure he felt in having it in his power to 
introduce a Representative from the United States; 
and spoke in terms of high gratification of what he 
had seen of Mr. Capers while present at their com- 
mittees. Mr. Reece rose and said he had known 
Mr. Capers in America, and loved him then, and had 
loved him ever since : no one could do otherwise ; 
and he knew they would find it so. The President 
then, turning to Mr. Capers and calling him by 
name, took him by the hand, and said, *^Moat 
cordially, sir, do I, on behalf of the Conference, 
extend to you, as the Representative of the Method^ 
ist Episcopal Church in America, the right hand 
of fellowship.'* Mr. Capers, with a feltering voice, 
made suitable acknowledgments. The scene was 
one of interest, and produced a strong sensation in 
the Conference. 

The impression made upon Mr. Capers by the 
prominent men of the Wesleyan Connection, will 
be best gathered from his own words : 

"On Sabbath morning I heard a wise and 
good sermon, at City Road Chapel, from the ex- 
President; in the afternoon one from Mr. W. Mr 
Bunting, at Great Queen Street Chapel; and in 
the evening one from President Bunting himself. 
The President is the finest preacher I ever heard, 
I was sitting on the platform just by Mr. GauUer ; 
and as soon as the service was closed^ Mr, Gaultei 



276 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPEKS. 

said to me, * We have no man in the Connection like 
Mr. Bunting ; he is far the best pattern for a young 
man that we have. From first to last he aims 
simply at winning souls; and he does win them.* 
This testimony, so honorable to Mr. Bunting, com- 
ing as it does from one of the present fathers of the 
Connection, is well deserved. He uses very little 
gesture, and seldom employs metaphor; but with 
a countenance expressive of great earnestness, and 
fluency of speech beyond any one I ever heard, he 
sweeps along with a full and overflowing tide of 
golid argument, in neat and simple language. In 
all his sermon (which was an hour and a half long) 
I could not detect the slightest inaccuracy. The 
difference between my friend iSTewton and Mr. 
Bunting, is almost as great as that between a. 
popular orator and a first-rate preacher ; and yet 
Mr. Newton is not only an orator, but an able man, 
and an excellent preacher also. 

*' To-day I am to dine with Dr. Clarke. The 
Doctor is one of the coarsest-looking men I ever 
saw, to be any thing like civilized or learned. He 
is strong-built, and fleshy; would probably weigh 
not much less than two hundred pounds ; is about 
five feet nine inches high. His hair is as white as 
cotton, and he wears it turned back over his head. 
It is very thin. He has full eyebrows, as white as 
the hair of his head. His mouth is very broad ; 
lips thick and prominent. Has the Irish pronunci- 
ation as perfectly as if he was just from their pot^^tq' 
fields — such as sowl for soul, and sacretary (or secrft- 



-1 



ORGANS. • 373 

tary. His utterance is rapid, and his languagie 
always clear, strong, and simple. His face is very 
red, as if the blood might gush out of it. It is 
quite striking to an American how indifferent 
people here seem to be to the correct pronunciation 
of their language. Mr. Bunting excepted, I cannot 
admire the pronunciation of any of the preachers J 
have met with. And to hear such a man as Mr. 
Watson say continually, noledge, acnoldge, for know- 
ledge, etc., and stud, understudy etc., for stood, 
understood, and the like, is surprising indeed. 
They seem, generally, to cleave to their country 
provincialisms. Certainly they could avoid them 
if they would try. 

"Some of the larger chapels are finished very 
magnificently in comparison with the best we have 
in America; arid organs are frequently used in 
them. Even the City Road Chapel looks not very 
like what one might expect in a house built by 
John Wesley. There is no organ, however, in this 
chapel. It seems that Mr. Wesley had no objection 
to organs ; and certainly most of the present 
fathers, if they do not greatly admire th6 use of 
them in public worship, have no objection to their 
use, except on the score of expense. Hundreds of 
pounds are annually raised for the purchase of organs. 
Pity that these sums were not applied to anothei 
use. Dr. Clarke is a great enemy to organs. I 
happened to be sitting by him when a question 
involving an organ was before the Conference. 
•Have you organs among you in America?' said 



2T6 ' LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

he to me, privately. 'No, sir/ I replied. * Theft/ 
he rejoined, ' keep the organs and the devil out.* 
There had been a serious dispute in one of the 
societies about an organ." 

The Conference commenced on the 30th July, at 
six o'clock A. M. About four hundred and fifty 
preachers were present ; and the session lasted till 
the 18th of August, when it was concluded, at nine 
o'clock P. M., as it had been commenced, with 
solemn, fervent prayer, by several of the older 
preachers. The visit and addresses of Mr. Capers 
were acknowledged in the following resolutions, 
unanimously adopted : 

^^Besolved, 1. That it is with the most cordial satis- 
faction, and with sincere gratitude to God, that this 
Conference has heard the interesting commilnica* 
tions now made by the Rev. William Capers^ re- 
specting the extraordinary work of God carried on 
by the instrumentality of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church in the United States of America. 

" 2. That the Conference receives with unfeigned 
pleasure the assurances conveyed by Mr. Capert 
of the decided and increasing attachment of the 
ministers and members of the Church he repfesentSj 
to the doctrines and general discipline of Method- 
ism, as preserved in the writings of our venerable 
Founder; and of their unabated affection to the 
|)reacher8 of the British Conference. And this 
Conference does most cordially assure the Atiieri-' 
can brethren, that the sentiments of Christidb 
love tad esteem expressed by them are perfeetly 



YIBI9 TO HATBON HALt. ST9 

reciprocal on the part of every member of thid 
body. 

'* 8. That the cordial thanks of this Coiiference 
are due to the General Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in America, for the appointment 
of their excellent Representative, Mr. Capers, whose 
amiable manners, devout spirit, and acceptable 
ministry, have greatly endeared him to the preach- 
ers now assembled, and confirmed their feelings of 
respect and d.ttachm<Bnt towards their American 
bi^ethren at larger 

"4. That the watroest thanks of the Conferenee 
are hei^eby prfesentfed to Mr. Cap^rS^ for the great 
i^bility^ Christian spirit^ and brotherly kihdness^ 
with Which he hais discharged the duties of his 
honorable mission; and the Conference bespectfulljr' 
asstite him^ that theif* most fervent prayers for his 
welfare will attend him oil his return to his natite 
Cotintry, and that he Will long retain a high plao^ 
in their affectionate remembrance." 

On the 22d August, .two days before Mr; Capers 
took his final leave of London^ he fulfilled an en- 
gagement pi'eviously made with the venerable Dr. 
Adam Clarke^ to spend a short time with him 
at his seat, Haydon Hall^ fifteen miles from the 
metropolis, ite gives the following interesting 
aceouut of this visit : 

"My friend^ the universally esteemed Joseph 
/tayior^ accompanied me, and we spent a most 
pleasant afternoon and night under the roof of the 
Doctor. No one can be more perfectly unbent than 



280 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPEICS. 

Dr. Clarke in the company of his friends* Whether 
in his library, with his ancient manuscripts, which 
he employed several hours in showing us — ^Arabic, 
Syriac, Saxon, etc., almost without number; or 
with the many curiosities he has collected in his 
museum ; or in his garden ; or the chapel which he 
has fitted up out of his barn; or showing us and 
feeding his pony, or the dunghill cock and hen 
which he brought with him on his return from a 
recent visit to the Shetland Islands: his whole 
manner is as easy, playful, and familiar as can be 
conceived ; such as in turn would equally interest a 
scholar or a child. While at table, the cocked-hat 
he used to wear was mentioned. He said he used 
to wear a slouched hat, but Mr, Wesley did not 
like it; ^;nd after saying vaguely something on the 
sutject, he oiice said in Adam's presence, *If a 
Methodist preacher shall come into my company 
with: a slouched hat on, I will take it a« an insult.' 
* This alarmed me,' said the Doctor, 'so I straight- 
way got me a cocked-hat.' Then leaving us 
without ^saying why, he went for his hat, and pre- 
sently coming in with it on his head, he saluted ug 
with great humor, bowing profoundly, as if not only 
to* show the hat, but ajso the younger manners of 
the wearer of it. A similar piece of humor was 
exhibited the next morning in his study. His be- 
ing descended from an honorable Scotch family by 
the maternal line, had been mentioned ; and while 
I was atnusing myself with a rare book, he stepped 
out, and presently returned, wearing the bonnet of 



DR. ADAM OliARKB. 281 

nis house, (the house of McLean,) a blue woollen 
cap, with ostrich feathers at the left side, fastened 
with a small device of silver. After this he intro- 
duced himself with * the bonnet of his clan ;* a cap of 
thick woollen, fitting close to the head, the lower 
part plaided of red and white, the upper part blue, 
with eagle feathers fastened with a device of silver, 
different from the other. All this was done in per- 
fect play. 

" The Doctor's circumstances are very easy. The 
country-seat where he lives is his own. The 
house is of brick, rather ancient, but large and 
commodious, well built and well furnished ; with 
an extensive lawn in front and in the rear, with 
elegant walks, gardens, shrubbery, etc.^ after the 
English fashion. The room which you first enter 
is curiously ornamented with numerous ancient 
insignia, and various curiosities of Eastern and 
African nations, etc., etc. There are two rooms 
appropriated to his library and miuseum, besides 
his study, which also is of considerable size, and 
is lined with shelvea closely filled with books and 
manuscripts, from the top to the bottom. My 
friend, Mr. Taylor, conjectured that his library and 
museum together might probably be worth thirty 
thousand pounds. 

"His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex, is 
particularly fond of Dr. Clarke, and passes one day 
annually with him, at Haydon Hall. The Doctoi 
told me it was about the time for him to expect 
tJiis yearly honor, but that his visit to Shetlaadj 



282 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPEB8. 

and the business of the Conference, had prevented 
his making his respects to the Duke^ to know when 
it might suit his convenience to bestow it. The 
Doctor is often at the Diike*s, who is fond of be- 
ing entertained with biblical criticism.** 

Four years after the visit just described, Dr. 
Clarke died. 

Mr. Capers visited, of course, the principal poitits 
of interest in London — the Thames Tunnel, the 
Royal Exchange, Blackfriars* Bridge^ the palaces, 
parks, and the like. Of St. PauFs he says: *' No- 
thing I had ever imagined could equal my amaze- 
ment. The awful length and breadth and height ! 
This cathedral beggars every thing I ever had be- 
held. The echoes give a constant rumbling through 
Its lofty arches that alone might make one feel a 
sense of dread. The monuments are noble and 
imposing ; but there is not one to celebrate a vic- 
tory, either by land or sea, over the ^rms of the 
United States.** 

'*FrDm Westminster Hall^ we w^nt to West- 
minster Abbey ; and this, of all things and places 
in England, is, 1 suppose, the best worth seeing. 
The entrance is at the Poet's Corner. And thence 
through numerous compartments filled with monu- 
ments of statesmen, knights, nobles^ warriors^ and 
kings, you are coridueted by one who has ah in- 
terest in it, and who explains eVery rfemarkable 
tnonument throughout the whole labyrinthine piles 
It is soletnn even to awfulness to go through thi#i 
place* The majesty of the building is surpassed 



k -w. i •■ •— 



LSAVB-TAKIKG. SM 

only by St. Paul's. We could not get through be- 
fore the afternoon service was commenced^ The 
place of worship, however, being distinct from the 
rest of the Abbey, we were not interrupted; and 
after we had gone mostly through the Abbey, we 
entered the chapel and took some part, if indeed if 
can be called part, in the service. There were but 
few persons present; and I could not but think 
that in that awful place there appeared less of de- 
votion than I ever saw in a poor log-cabin meeting- 
house in America: so little can the parade and 
pomp of circumstance do for religion ! Having 
heard, indistinctly, part of the afternoon service 
read, and listened to the pretty little Westminster 
boys chanting the Psalms, we concluded our in- 
spection of the monuments, where we had begun 
it, namely, at the Poet's Corner.** 

On the 26th August, Mr. Capers left the elegant, 
hospitable Highbury Lodge, and the far-famed 
mammoth city of London, never expecting to see 
either of them again* He was engaged to take 
breakfest at Mr. Taylor's at half-past eight o'clock, 
and the stage-coach for Oxford at nine. The part- 
ing scene was touching. "At seven o'clock all the 
family were in the library (one hour before their 
usual hour of rising) to spend the last moments 
with me, and bid adieu. Mr. Haslope asked tne 
to pray with them ; after which I took leave, not 
as a stranger would take leave of strangeri;, but as 
ft friend bidding adieu to beloved and honcir^sd 
Meods. Mr. H. had ordered the coach, and aecclilis> 



284 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

pauied me to Mr. Taylor's, where we breakfasted 
together, and then went to the stage-office. I could 
not finally leave London, and especially I could 
not take a final adieu of Mr. Haslope and Mr. 
Taylor, without feeling much. I have been a 
month in Mr. Haslope* s family, a stranger, a 
foreigner, during which time I- have had every 
mark of respect that could have been shown a most 
honored guest extended to me. More than this : 
respect, even in this short time, has ripened into 
affection ; and I have been unceasingly, of late, 
gratified with the tenderest proofs of it. Notliing 
has been wanting from every member of the family 
to show their affection for me. I never knew a 
more amiable or happy family; I never knew 
one to whom, in so short a time, I felt so much 
attached." 

This testimony is alike honorable to host and 
guest. Mr. Capers possessed rare social qualities — 
genial warmth, quick sympathy with every gene- 
rous and noble trait of character, , rich conversa- 
tional power, and the ease and finish of elegant 
manners. He was fitted not only to shine in the 
higher circles of London society, but to attract 
genuine esteem and affection. That the Haslopes 
should have taken him to their hearts is not won- 
derful. In them he saw a model specimen of the 
oultivated, refined. Christian, English family. The 
abolition mania had not then spread its fanatical 
virus over British society; nor was it considered 
that an American Christian gentleman had no ri^t 



ENGLISH ANTI-SLAVERY. 285 

to the courtesies of society if lie had the misfortune 
to come from South Carolina. 

Allowance should undoubtedly be made for the 
present anti-Southern feelings of our British cousins. 
It was not until the session of the Wesleyan Con- 
ference in 1830 that the subject of the abolition of 
slavery in the West India colonies was formally 
taken up by the Conference. Only about twenty 
years previously, Great Britain had put an end to 
the slave-trade, after having kept it up in full play 
for two hundred and fifty years^ and filled not only 
the West India islands but the American colonies 

• 

with enslaved Africans. And it was not until 1834 
that the British Parliament abolished slavery in the 
West Indies, The policy, enterprise, and ships of 
England planted the institution in the Southern 
States. England is the mother, the dry-nurse of 
the system ; and to this day the slave-raised cotton 
of these same States keeps up a large portion of 
her manufacturing industry. Considering all -this, 
it is not matter of much surprise' that her late-born 
abolition zeal should approach the limits of the 
farcical. How appropriate, for instance, is it that 
this zeal should show its abhoiTence of a two- 
hundred and fifty years* policy and profits by de- 
clining all fraternal ecclesiastical intercourse be- 
tween its now immaculate self and the Southern 
American churches around which that very policy 
planted the germs of existing servile institutions ! 
The charm of consistency in the whole thing is re^ 
freshing. 



386 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBRB. 

Xt was the goo<} fortune of Mr. Capers to visit 
Great Britain before the times were changed. He 
was reeeivecj with the utmost cordiality, and with 
unbounded kindness. The General Conference 
was thanked for the appointment of so " excellent 
s^ representative." His Christian, devout spirit, 
no less than his "great ability,*' was noticed in 
formal resolutions. In fine, the Wesleyans had 
not reached that point of progress at which "con- 
nection with slavery" was the unpardonable sin. 
He left the shores of Albion in the odor of 
sanctity! 

After leaving London he visited Oxford, and 
saw Mr. Wesley's room in Lincoln College : Kings- 
wood, and made an address to the sons of the 
preachers there ; Madeley, and preached in the barn 
where John Fletcher's voice had so often been 
heard. The curate, Mr. Cooper, took him through 
the vicarage-house, garden, church, etc. ; and be- 
fore they parted asked Mr. Capers to pray with him 
in the room where both Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher 
died. He spent a Sabbath at Manchester, wenib to 
Jjeeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow, thence to Belfast and 
Dublin, and back to Liverpool ; from which port 
he sailed for Charleston, early in October. The 
voyage home lasted forty-five days: a length of 
time almost fabulous in these days of ocean 
steamers. One storm after another pelted the poor 
"Lady Rowena.*' Spars were splintered, sails 
torn, the ship's cow was battered to death ; they 
saw the "compesants,'* fire-balls at the masthead; 



— ^ 



THS RETDRN HOMB. 287 

And witnessed the rush of a waterspout which 
passed with furious bellowing within two hundred 
yards of the ship. Mr. Capers held Divine service 
every Sabbath, for the most of the time *' all sitting 
and holding on.'* With a joy language cannot 
depict, and with t]ae devoutest gratitude to God for 
so many mercies, he returned to his own dear 
family circle, after an absence of nearly six 
months. 



iv ni 



'488 LIVE OF WILLIAM CAPBB8. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Inyitation to go to Baltimore — Missions to the blacks established-^ 

Results of these missions. 

On his return from England, Mr. Capers immedi- 
ately resumed the duties of his Presiding Elder's 
office. The membership on the Charleston District, 
as reported at the close of the year 1828, amounted 
to three thousand four hundred and ninety-two 
whites, and five thousand nine hundred and seven- 
ty-seven colored. Soon after the session of the 
Annual Conference, Dr. T. E. Bond, of Baltimore, 
opened a correspondence with Mr. Capers, to ascer- 
tain whether he could be prevailed upon to take 
a transfer to the Baltimore Conference. Mr. Ca- 
pers, in reply, adverted to several grave difficulties 
in the way of such a project. Dr. Bond, in a letter 
bearing date February 27th, 1829, undertook to 
obviate these difficulties. One of them was that 
Dr. Capers was a slaveholder. It had been under- 
stood that the good old Baltimore Conference had 
defined its position on this vexed question ; and 
that, while it tolerated slaveholders among the 
membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, it 
had set its face against having a slaveholder among 



INVITATION TO BALTIMORE. 289 

the travelling preachers. This Mr. Capers consid- 
ered, of course, a bar to any further negotiations 
on the subject. As one of the curiosities of eccle- 
siastical diplomacy, it may interest some of our 
readers who recollect Dr. Bond's after-course as 
editor of the Christian Advocate and Journal, and, 
in particular, his attacks on Dr. Capers personally, 
as a slaveholder, to see an extract from this letter 
of February 27th. The following paragraph is a 
faithful copy from the original : '* The friends who 
united with me in reference to the suggestion made 
in my last, have very carefully considered the ob- 
jection you so frankly make to our proposal. But, 
after mature deliberation, they do not entirely ac- 
cord with you in the opinion that your transfer to 
this Conference is unsuitable. In the first place, 
your apprehension that your being the owner of 
slaves, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, 
would operate to your disadvantage, is, we think, 
a mistake. If you cannot free them where you 
live, and circumstances render it improper to re- 
move them, as we understand is the case, we speak 
advisedly when we say, that your being so unfortu- 
nate as to be encumbered with slaves will not be in 
the way of your usefulness in Baltimore.*' 

Must not strange ideas of ecclesiastical unity ob- 
tain in a connectional Church which permits a 
domestic institution, such as slavery, to exist in 
one portion of its geographical territory, under the 
full sanction both of disciplinary statute and pub- 
lic opinion, and, in another portion, condemns the 
19 



290 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERB. 

aame institution as not only sinful but infamous ?-^ 
wliich allows in laymen, family and civil relations 
which in the case of ministers become at once viola- 
tions of moral law? — which, consequently, holds 
to a variable rule of Christian morals, adjusted by 
a sliding scale — one thing to one man^ and alto- 
gether another to another man? — which asks, 
"What shall be done for the extirpation of the 
great evil of slavery?" and answers the question 
by distinctly permitting it to exist within one half 
of the ecclesiastical enclosures? — ^which deplores 
a "connection with slavery" as a terrible calamity, 
and all the while keeps in its communion, as 
brethren beloved, ministers and laymen who hold 
slaves ? K it be said that this is an evil, in the 
eye of ecclesiastical laWj only as poverty or bad civil 
government is an evil, what has the Church to do 
with it ? If an evil in a mo!*al and religious point 
of view, in other words a sin, how then can the 
Church, the guardian of public morals, tolerate it ? 
These questions never have been answered. The 
whole case is perfectly anomalous. And far back 
of the General Conference of 1844 must be traced 
the germ of connectional separation, Which came 
to maturity in the action of a majority of that 
body, in the cases of a Baltimore preacher a&d a 
Georgia Bishop. 

Mr. Capers declined, of cours^^ all otertures to 
remove from the South Carolina Confei'ence, al- 
though in the negotiations very liberal offers of A 
pitettaiary sort were made him» He had, i^deed^ 



-1 



MISSIONS TO THE BLACKS. 211 

been compelled to use, of his own small patrimony, 
at least three thousand dollars beyond the means 
allowed him for the support of his family, in the 
service of the Church. Pecuniary embarrassments 
began to give him some distress of mind ; but as 
soon as this was known to his friends on the dis- 
trict, a handsome amount, fully covering what was 
understood to be his liabilities, was immediately 
made up, principally in the Black Swamp and 
Orangeburg Circuits, and presented to him in the 
kindest and most delicate manner. 

The year 1829 is memorable as the period of the 
inauguration of a great movement in the Southern 
portion of the Methodist Church. Two missions 
to the plantation-slaves were established, one to the 
blacks south of Ashley river, to which the Rev. 
John Honour was appointed missionary ; and the 
other to the blacks on Santee river, who were 
served by the Rev. J. H. Massey as missionary. 
Mr. Capers, in addition to his regular duties as 
Presiding Elder, had the honor to be appointed 
Superintendent of these missions. In the autumn 
of the preceding year, after his return from Eng- 
land, Mr. Capers was waited on by the Hon. 
Charles G. Pinckney, a gentleman who had a large 
planting interest on Santee, to ascertain whether a 
Methodist exhorter could be recommended to him 
as a suitable person to oversee his plantation. Mr. 
Pinckney stated, as the reasons for this application, 
Mr. Capers's known interest in the religious wel- 
fkre of ike colored population, and the fact thut 



292 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

the happy results which had followed the pious en- 
deavors of a Methodist overseer on the plantation 
of one of his Georgia friends, had directed his at- 
tention to the subject. Mr. Capers told Mr. Pinck- 
ney that he doubted whether he could serve him in 
that particular way, but that, if he would allow 
him to make application to the Bishop and Mis- 
sionary Board at the approaching session of the 
Conference, he would venture to promise that a 
minister, for whose character he could vouch fully, 
should be sent to his plantation as a missionary ^ 
whose time and efforts should be devoted exclu- 
sively to the religious instruction and spiritual wel- 
fare of his colored people. To this proposal Mr. 
Pinckney gave his cordial assent. Soon after. Col. 
Lewis Morris and Mr. Charles Baring, of Pon Pon, 
united in a similar request. These were gentlemen 
of high character, who thus took the initiative in 
a course of missionary operations which may just- 
ly be termed the glory of Southern Christianity. 
They were members of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, but availed themselves of the earliest 
opening which the peculiar itinerant organization 
of the Methodist Church afforded, for furnishing 
religious instruction to their slaves at the hands of 
men deemed competent and safe in the judgment 
of Mr. Capers. 

The position of the plantation negroes on the 
river-deltas of the low country is peculiar. In this 
malarial region very few white families are found. 
Churches are, of course, very scarce; and apart 



OONDiTlOK or THE BLACKS. 293 

from special arrangements made for the religious 
improvement of the blacks by the planters, there is 
no access, in many instances, to any of the agencies 
of the organized Christianity of the country. 
Originally brought from Western Africa, the most 
ignorant and degraded portion of the realm of 
Paganism ; enslaved, many of them, in their father- 
land ; victims of debasing superstitions ; what re- 
cuperative element was there to be found in their 
condition ? That inscrutable providence of God, 
whose march through the centuries is apparently 
slow but with unerring tread and in the right 
direction, seems to have overruled the cupidity of 
the British slave-traders, and allowed an exodus 
of hundreds of thousands of Africa's children to 
the shores of this country, where, under the mild 
form of servitude known in the Southern States, 
they contribute to the feeding and clothing of the 
world, and are at the same time environed with 
the light and saving influences of Christian civiliz- 
ation. Unfit for political freedom, unable to 
govern themselves ; put by color and caste, as well 
as by intellectual inferiority, beyond the possibility 
of any future absorption into the dominant white 
race, their condition requires but one additional 
element to render it, in their present circumstances, 
in the South, the best that appears attainable by 
them — and that is religious instruction, adapted 
to their mental capabilities. Much has been said 
or "shrieked,** by traders in philanthropy, con- 
cerning the "chatter* into which the negro has 



294 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

been transformed by Southern legislation. The 
fact, however, remains unaltered, that Southern 
law considers the slave a persoriy treats him as 
possessed of ethical character, and protects him as 
fully, in his place, as it does his master in his. 
And public opinion freely concedes that moral 
capabilities and an immortal destiny righteously 
demand moral cultivation, religious opportunities 
— in a word, the gospel, which is the chartered 
right of the poor, and the precious boon of the 
"bond** as well as the free. The master is under 
obligation to have his servant taught the duties he 
owes to God and man. This is one of the respon- 
sibilities involved in the relation between the 
parties; and from this responsibility there is no 
escape while the relation exists, and while the 
sanction of the New Testament is claimed for it. 

We have related the circumstances under which 
the experiment of a system of religious operations 
among the plantation negroes of South Carolina 
began. Mr. Capers made regular visitations to 
the two infant missions during the year. On the 
11th September, Mr. Honour, who had charge of 
the one to the south of Charleston, took sick from 
bilious fever contracted by exposure in the swamps 
where his mission lay. On the 19th of the same 
month, after "witnessing a good confession before 
many witnesses,'' he triumphantly concluded his 
mortal life, and entered into life everlasting. Thus 
the very outset of the enterprise cost the life of a 
missionary. But this sacrifice furnished proof thai 



QUB8TI0N OF ABOLITIOKIBIC- S9S 

the heroic spirit of the ancient faith was not yet 
extinct in the Church; and that Methodic 
preachers knew how to die at their posts, though 
these might lie among the rice-fields and negro- 
quarters. 

Mr. Capers continued to feel to the time of his 
death an unahated interest in this missionary 
work among the hlacks of the low-country plan- 
tations. He was called upon in 1836, in view of 
the growing excitement at the North on the vexed 
question, to present, in the Report of the South 
Carolina Conference Missionary Society, the posi- 
tion held by the Conference on the subject of 
abolition. This he did in the following terms : 
"We regard the question of the abolition of slavery 
as a civil one, belonging to the State, and not at all 
a religious one, or appropriate to the Church. 
Though we do hold that abuses which may some- 
times happen, such as excessive labor, extreme 
punishment, withholding necessary food and cloth- 
ing, neglect in sickness or old age, and the like, 
are immoralities, to be prevented or punished by 
all proper means, both of Church- discipline and 
the civil law, each in its sphere. 

" 2. We denounce the principles and opinions of 
the abolitionists in totOy and do solemnly declare 
our conviction and belief, that whether they were 
originated, as some business men have thought, as 
a money speculation, or, as some politicians think, for 
party electioneering purposes, or, as we are inclined tp 
believe, in a false philosophy, overreaching ^aU 



296 lill'E OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

setting aside the Scriptures, through a vain conceit 
of a higher refinement, they are utterly erroneous, 
and altogether hurtful. 

" 3. We believe that the Holy Scriptures, so far 
from giving any countenance to this delusion, do 
unequivocally authorize the relation of master and 
slave: 1. By holding masters and their slaves 
alike, as believers, brethren beloved. 2. By en- 
joining on each the duties proper to the other. 3. 
By grounding their obligations for the fulfilment 
of these duties, as of all others, on their relation to 
God. Masters could never have had their duties 
enforced by the consideration, ^your Master who 
is in heaven^' if barely being a master involved in 
itself any thing immoral. 

" Our missionaries inculcate the duties of ser- 
vants to their masters, as we find those duties 
stated in the Scriptures. They inculcate the per- 
formance of them as indispensably important. We 
hold that a Christian slave must be submissive, 
faithful, and obedient, for reasons of the same 
authority with those which oblige husbands, wives, 
fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, to fulfil the duties 
of these relations. We would employ no one in the 
work who might hesitate to teach thus ; nor can 
such a one be found in the whole number of the 
preachers of this Conference.'* 

Nearly a generation has passed away since the 
commencement of these missionary operations 
among the blacks. It is interesting to trace their 
expansion and results through a quarter of a cen- 



tury. That there has been a large development is 
proved by the statistics published from year to 
year by the Missionary Society. In 1883 two 
additional mission stations were established. In 
1834, they numbered six ; in 1836, eight ; in 1836, 
nine ; in 1837, ten ; and ten years afterwards, viz., 
in 1847, there were seventeen missions, served by 
twenty-five efficient preachers of the Conference. 
At the death of Bishop Capers, there were twenty- 
six missionary stations in South Carolina, on which 
were employed thirty-two preachers. The number 
of Church members at that time was 11,546 on 
these mission stations. The missionary revenue 
of the Conference had risen from $300 to $25,000. 
These are very substantial results, so far as sta- 
tistics go. 

Beyond all this, several important consequences 
may be observed. That the religious sentiment of 
the country should be directed, clearly and strongly, 
in favor of furnishing the colored population with 
the means of hearing the gospel of their salvation, 
and of learning their duty to God and their accounta- 
bility in a future life, is a very cheering aspect of 
the whole subject. The history of these missions 
brings out the fact that the Christian minister has 
been welcomed on the plantations ; that chapels 
have been built; liberal contributions been fur- 
nished by the planters; master and servant are 
seen worshipping God together : the spirit of Chris- 
tian light and love has reacted upon the one, while 
it has directly benefited the other. How important 
13* 



298 LIFB OV WILLIAM CAPEES. 

i« tt growing public sentiment which shows itaelf 
iu such aspects as these ! 

We may notice, moreover, the positive influence 
of Christianity upon the negro population. The 
gospel is a message intended for all men. It takes 
up, in its grand generalizations, the bond as well 
as the free. Its oflfer of salvation is meant to be 
irrespective of all outward conditions. That it 
should be preached to all classes of men, is the 
distinct and clearly revealed will of God, and, 
therefore, matter of duty and obligation to the 
Church, Now, if nothing more had been accom- 
plished than the meeting of this solemn responsi- 
bility, that would have been doing much. Success 
is with God ; duty is for us. And so, too, it w^re 
matter of special thankfulness with every right- 
minded master, that, in the peculiar relation sus- 
tained by him to his slaves, it had been in his 
power to welcome and aid the Christian minister 
in preaching Jesus and the resurrection to his de- 
pendents, even though no visible fruit of holiness 
appeared as the result. But beyond all this, it is 
confidently believed that Christian influence has 
made itself felt in the conscience, conversation, 
and life of thousands of the blacks. A vast deal 
of ignorance has been in the way, on the part of 
the old negroes ; many superstitious notions, many 
fixed habits of immorality, have opposed barriers 
to the entrance of the word of God to the inner 
man. The improvement on the part of the younger 
generation h^s not been as extensive as their oppor- 



SU00ES6 AMONG THE BLACKS. 290 

tnnities of instruction. Where^ indeed, shall we go 
to find, as yet, the universal sway of Christianity ? 
And where is that community in which it has been 
allowed to cure all the evils of man's nature? 
While, however, it is not claimed that any very 
extraordinary success in the conversion of the 
blacks has crowned the exertions of the missiona- 
ries, it will hardly be denied that, in many instances, 
and on all the mission stations, the force of Chris- 
tian truth, and the power of Christian motives, and 
the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost, have 
been felt. It is obvious that much of the instruc- 
tion given in the ministrations of the missionaries 
must, of necessity, deal in the first principles of 
Christian truth ; must, to a large extent, be adapted 
to an humble grade of intellect, and a limited range 
of knowledge ; and must make its impression by 
constant and patient reiteration. This is precisely 
what is doing all the time. No romance surrounds 
such a field of labor; it lacks all the elements 
which stir the enthusiasm of lofty minds ; it is, in 
the highest degree, a work of faith, demanding 
the patience of hope and the labor of love. But 
now and then a gleam of light breaks out : some 
death-bed scene in the lowly cabin of the negro- 
quarter attests the power and glory of the gospel. 
Instead of the stupid indifference of a semi-brutal 
nature, or the frantic moanings of a terrified super- 
stition, the missionarj^ witnesses the calm confi- 
dence of a faith which leans on the bosom of Jesus 
—the Man of sorrows — the Son of God ; and which 



dOO LIfE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

trusts his merits for salvation in a crisis that baffles 
the proudest reason, and prostrates the loftiest self- 
righteousness. 

But, furthermore, it is worthy of notice that, in 
connection with regular preaching, the catechetical 
instruction of the young negroes is constantly at- 
tended to. This is uniformly done orally. These 
"little children** are brought to Christ. Is it say- 
ing too much to affirm that of many such is the 
kingdom of heaven ? Christian nurture thus grows 
with their growth. Correct ideas of God, of duty, 
of the relations of time and eternity, of human ac- 
countability — ^the foundation-principles of Chris- 
tian character and life — are laid in the earliest 
years of these catechumens. All true and trust- 
worthy morality, in all classes of society, and par- 
ticularly in the class now specially referred to, 
springs from these germs. Beginning with the 
nascent growth of the intellect, the system has 
demonstrated the entire practicability of the moral 
improvement of the African. The lessons im- 
printed on the mind of childhood may be neglected 
and their authority spurned in after life, as in the 
case of others in different circumstances, but they 
can never be forgotten. They cling to the mem- 
ory; they haunt the conscience; they whisper in 
the still small voice ; they work valuable restraints; 
they furnish salutary directions ; they inspire hopes 
connected with the soul's best interests ; they form 
a life-long testimony for God and goodness, and 
against sin and its fearful retributions in the life to 



SUCOESS AMONG THE BLACKS. 801 

come. It would be singular, indeed, if this im- 
plantation of moral elements and vital forces, in 
the very formation of character, should lead to no 
observable good results in the deportment of the 
plantation-negro. It is true, that to look for moral 
results in the absence of moral causes — for honesty, 
fidelity, industry, sobriety, kindliness, and self- 
restraint where no moral instruction has been im- 
parted — would be a's absurd as to expect to reap 
where there has been no sowing. But such an 
absurdity is not involved in the present case. The 
bloom of spring and the fruits of summer are not 
anticipated where the tree is severed from its root. 
The moral nurture is given, and we have a right to 
anticipate appropriate and salutary results. 

In point of fact, a gratifying degree of success 
has crowned these efforts. The testimony of mas- 
ters and missionaries goes to show that a whole- 
some effect has been produced upon the character 
of the negro population generally. A change for 
the better is visible everywhere, when the present 
generation is contrasted with the past. And in 
how many instances the gospel has proved the 
power of God to salvation, and presented before 
the throne the spirits of these children of Ham, 
redeemed and washed " by the blood of sprinkling,'* 
and fitted for an abode in heaven, the revelations 
of the last day will disclose. Results such as these 
lie, of course, beyond the track of mortal observa- 
tion. But if these ministerial labors have indeed 
been instrumental in developing and directing 



S02 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPER8. 

aright the sentiment of religion ; the capability of 
knowing God so as to fear him; of guiding to 
Christ, and ultimately to heaven, any number of 
these docile and lowly but yet immortal beings, 
for whom redemption was provided in the sacrifice 
of the Son of God, then they deserve to be reckoned 
among the noblest triumphs of missionary patience 
and zeal; none the less important that they lie at 
homey nor the less noteworthy m contrast with the 
turbulent, malign, and desolating frenzy at the 
North, which, making the civil and social relations 
of this class of our population the pretext^ has 
broken up Church associations, carried politics 
into the pulpit, and is pushing the miners and 
sappers to the very foundations of the Federal Union. 
Looking from his death-bed at the peaceful progress 
of that system of operations for the religious in- 
struction of the slaves of his native State which 
Dr. Capers had been instrumental in setting on 
foot, he might well have said : 
"Deus nobis hsec otia fecit." 



900T0R OF OIVINITT. 808 



CHAPTER V. 

Elected Professor in Franklin College — His own humble apprecia- 
tion of his scholastic abilities — Severe illness — Castile Selby — 
Stationed in Columbia — Correspondence with Dr. Cooper. 

In November, 1829, Mr. Capers was elected Pro- 
fessor of Moral Philosophy and Belles Lettres in 
Franklin College, Georgia. The appointment was 
made before any consultation had been held with 
him. It was the result of the high appreciation in 
which his character and talents were held in Geor- 
gia. He declined the professorship, however. 
About the same time the degree of Doctor of 
Divinity was conferred upon him by the Trustees of 
Augusta College, Kentucky. In reference to this, 
he made the following statement, a year or two 
afterward, to Dr. R. Paine: "The title was con- 
ferred on me without my knowledge, by a young 
college, and one of our own ; and out of delicacy 
toward the college, as well as that a great deal was 
made out of Mr. Beman and Mr. Cox's having de- 
clined the same title about the same time, I thought 
it best to be silent; but I must confess I have 
never been quite satisfied with myself in that 
matter." 

The reader id aware that bad health had pr^ 



304 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

vented the completion of Dr. Capers's college train- 
ing. In the ceaseless, miscellaneous duties of a 
travelling preacher he had found little opportunity 
for severe, systematic study. He was far more a 
man of vigorous, original thought than a man of 
books. He appreciated high scholarship, and his 
taste was exquisite ; but he made no pretensions to 
a learning which nothing but years of patient, 
laborious study can bestow. Genius, withal, has 
some perilous gifts in her dower — ^vivacity, fluency, 
quickness of apprehension, and opulence of fancy. 
These are too often depended on in youth, and 
made to supply the place of that mental drill which 
alone carries the powers to their complete and 
ultimate development, and makes the intellectual 
character teres et rotundus. The subject of this 
memoir was a man of action, a man of keen and 
quick observation, of profound and original reflec- 
tion ; he was indebted to books for but little of his 
distinction. Had he been a hard student, it can 
scarcely be questioned that his mental grasp would 
have been wider, and his influence greater. 

In the autumn of 1830, Dr. Capers had a severe 
attack of illness, taken while attending a camp- 
meeting in the Cypress Circuit. After a sick night 
he set out at the break of day on Monday morning, 
hoping to reach his home in Charleston that night, 
a distance of fifty miles. He drove the whole dis- 
tance without stopping for refreshment. On his 
arrival he was nearly exhausted ; and when Mrs. 
Capers made some exclamation of surprise at hia 



— »■- XJiWx*. 



DANGEROUS ILLNESS. 8U5 

looking 80 ill, he said, " I am feeling badly, but 
my poor horse must be attended to." While he 
was in the yard superintending the rubbing of his 
horse, and giving directions for the proper care of 
him, Mrs. Capers sent for the family physician, 
Dr. Dickson, without his knowledge. When the 
Doctor came, he expressed the pleasure he always 
felt at meeting him, but regretted that his wife 
should be so easily frightened. " I am very glad 
she has sent for me,'* Dr. Dickson replied; "for 
there is no time to lose in your case." He was 
immediately put under active treatment; but so 
violent was the fever that for several weeks his life 
seemed to hang in the balance, when a feather's 
weight on the fatal side would have terminated his 
course of usefulness on earth. Every possible atten- 
tion was showed him, and a deep and general soli- 
citude was felt for him in the community. As the 
crisis of the disease approached, he expressed a 
calm but firm reliance on Christ; he spoke in 
touching terms of his unworthiness ; gave, as was 
supposed, his dying- charge to his sorrowing wife, 
and his last farewell to his weeping children. 
There was not the rapture and exultation which 
marked a former illness, when he requested Mrs. 
Capers to write down, as he dictated, the following 
couplet : 

" may I joy in all his life, 

And shout the Cross in death !" 

"Give me the paper," he said; "I wish to draw a 

line under the words, 
20 



306 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAP£]lS. 

**And shout the Croat in, death,** 

repeating the expresaion several times. But pa 
the QceasioQ uow describing, more of solemn awe 
eaxd calm confidence in the Redeemer, than of 
rapturous exultation, marked his spirit. Mrs. 
Capers was kneeling at his bedside, with one of 
his hands clasped in both of hers. The present 
writer, then stationed in Charleston, stood at his 
head bathing his forehead with ice-water, when a 
venerable African, Castile Selby, one of the holiest 
and best men of the colored charge in tjie city, a 
class-leader of long standing, and highly respected 
by Dr. Capers, came into the chamber of death. 
"I am glad to see you, Father Castile,*' said Dr. 
Capers: "you find me near my end, but kneel 
down and turn your face, to the wall, and pray for 
me; and all of you pray." Castile's prayer was 
memorable ; full of humble submission to the 
Divine will, but full of pleading, mighty faith in 
the great Mediator. He asked of God, the giver 
of life, that the life of his beloved pastor might be 
spared to the Church. This prayer was memorable, 
too, in its immediate results. The first words from 
the sick minister after its close were: "I feel 
better." Shortly after. Dr. Dickson made his 
morning visit, and pronounced the crisis pa«t. A 
rapid convalescence ensued, and he was soon in the 
pulpit again. 

The account given of Henry Evans, of Fayette - 
ville, by Dr. Capers in his Recollections, has been 
read, no doubt, with interest. We are able tp prer 



CASTILB SELBY. 807 

Mnt, through the kindness of the Rev. U. Sinclair 
Bird, several interesting particulars of Castile 
Selby, written for him by Dr. Capers. He became 
acquainted with Castile in 1811. He says of him: 
" I can call to mind no other person of our colored 
society of that early day, who, of nearly Castile's 
age, was esteemed as much as he, though there 
were some very worthy men among them. The 
weight and force of his character was made up of 
humility, sincerity, simplicity, integrity, and con- 
sistency ; for all which he was remarkable, not only 
among his fellows of the colored society in Charles- 
ton, but, I might say, among all whom I have ever 
known. He was one of those honest men who 
need no proof of it. No one who saw him could 
suspect him. Disguise or equivocation lurked no- 
where about him. Just what he seemed to be, that 
he invariably was — neither less nor more. Add to 
this a thorough piety, (which indeed was the root 
and stock of all his virtues,) and you will find ele- 
ments enough for the character of no common 
man ; and such was Castile Selby. Let me men- 
tion some particular characteristics which distin- 
guished him. I notice his love of order — order, 
not in the sense of regularity only, but of a prime 
law of society, giving to it symmetry, consistency, 
and permanence. It was evidently a ruling prin- 
ciple with daddy Castile. Not only was the house 
he lived in, and the few inferior articles of furniture 
which it contained, kept in order, that is, clean and 
to rights, but there was order in that old tarpauljn 



308 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

hat, and well-patched linsey-woolsey coat^ which 
marked the old cartman as he tmdged the streets 
from day to day, with his old bay-horse and well- 
worn cart, hauling wood. And then there was order 
in that clean, unpatched, but still linsey-woolsey 
coat, and that blue striped handkerchief tied about 
his head, in which he was to be seen at the house 
of God, morning, afternoon, and evening, on the 
Sabbath day. And I will add that a love of order 
had a ftiU share in his seeming indifference to cold 
and wet, plying his cart as diligently in inclement 
weather as if it had been fair and pleasant. If I 
ever knew a man who was so completely satisfied 
with his condition as to prefer no change whatever, 
that man was Castile Selby. His dwelling might 
have been better, his apparel better, and he might 
have relieved himself of much fatigue and exposure, 
but he deemed it unbecoming. On these and kin- 
dred subjects I knew his feelings well, having had 
much conversation with him, and telling him 
plainly that I thought him wrong. But I could not 
convince him, while he satisfied me that he was 
governed by a sense of duty, the fitness and force 
of which he was better prepared to judge of than 
perhaps I was. For example : Noticing the mean- 
ness of his clothing, and expressing a fear that it 
might not be comfortable, 'No, master,' he has 
said, 'these old clothes make me quite comfort- 
able. They just suit my business, and so they just 
suit me.' Remarking on his Sunday clothes, that 
he might improve them a little, 'Ah, sir,' he has 



CASTILE SELBY. 809 

answered, * don't you see how our colored people 
are turning fools after dress and fashion, just as if 
they were white ? They want somebody to hold 
them back. I dress for my color. And besides 
that, master, how can I take what the Lord is 
pleased to give me to do some little good with, and 
put it on my back V 

" But it was his indefatigable industry, not allow- 
ing of a reasonable suspension of his labors in bad 
weather, which most frequently induced our friendly 
disputes. For a number of ^^ears occasion was fre- 
quently oflFered for these ; and though I never could 
convince him, and he persevered in his habits to 
the last of life, I seldom let an opportunity slip 
without some words of remonstrance. I wish I 
could give you an exact representation of some of 
these disputes. Exact I could not make it, and yet 
I think I can call up what may interest you. Let 
me try : 

" ' "Well, well, Father Castile ! Out again in the 
rain with that old coat ! Why in the world will 
you expose yourself so? And are not your legs 
swelled, even now?' 

" 'Ah, master, I thought you would scold if you 
happened to meet me. But no matter, master; 
the rain won't hurt me, I am used to it.' 

" ' But it wiU hurt you ; it micsi hurt you. And I 
dare say those swelled legs came by just such 
exposure as this. You ought to be at home ; and 
do pray, now, go home and keep yourself comfort- 
able.' 



810 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

" < For your sake, sir, I would go home, but 
several families are looking for me to haul them 
wood to-day, and I miiat not disappoint them.' 

" *And who will haul them wood after you have 
killed yourself?* 

" ^I won't kill myself, sir; I have been used to this 
all my life, and use, as you know, is second nature. 
I never find myself any better for lying up. But, 
Afiaster, a*n't you out too ?' 

" 'Yes, I am ; but it is only for a little time, and 
I am fully protected ; but here you are regularly at 
it for a day's work, with no protection from the 
weather but your hat, and that threadbare blanket 
overcoat. You really ought to go home. Think 
you that the second nature you talk about can 
make an old infirm man like you young again? 
You can't stand it. Father Castile, and you ought 
not to try to stand it. Do pray go home.' 

" *Ah, master ! They say, " Better wear out than 
rust out." There are too many lazy people rusting 
out, for me fo lie up because it rains a little. By- 
and-by they'll say, " Castile is lazy too ;" or " Cas- 
tile is turned gentleman, and can't wet his foot;" 
and what can I say ? If they are negroes, so am 
I. If they ought to work, I ought to work too. I 
can't help working, master, and I don't want to 
help it. It is the lot it has pleased God to give me, 
and it suits me best.' 

*'As the infirmities of age increased on my old 
fKend, while his habits of continual industry seemed 
indomitable, I became anxious about him; and 



CA&TILE SELBY. 811 

after conversing with several of our brethren, and 
finding them of my own mind with respect to him, 
I determined to adopt a course which I supposed 
must prove effectual. I told him that while his 
long course of holy living had made him friends of 
the principal members of the church, who shared 
with me the kindest feelings for him, and were 
more than willing to provide for all his wants, it 
placed him in a position with respect to the colored 
society which we thought required, both for him- 
self and them, that his time should be differently 
employed from what it had been. We were fully 
pef-suaded that it was our duty to rescue him from 
his cart, and put it in his power to employ all his 
time in a way which we believed would prove more 
to the glory of God ; and that was, (while he should 
be able to go about,) to visit the sick, aged, and 
infirm, and look after the flock generally, praying 
with thetn, and doing them all the spiritual good 
in his power. For his comfortable support during 
the remainder of his life, such and such reliable 
gentlemen would pledge themselves, I would pledge 
myself, and the stewards of the church would see 
that he lacked nothing. *N"ow, my old friend,* 
said I, ' we want you to * sell your horse and cart 
immediately, and use the money as you think pro- 
per I you shall want for nothing ; and let it be your 
only business to help all the souls you can to 
heaiven.* lie received this proposition with pro- 
fouiid Sensibility and many thanks ; but could b^ 
liiduced only to add that he would think of it. H 



812 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

was just before my journey to attend General Con- 
ference; and on my return to Charleston, I had 
scarcely reached my door before I saw Castile 
Selby, just as aforetime, seated on his throne, the 
old cart. *Ah, master,* said he, 'the very thing 
you would do for me to make me useful, would 
hinder more than it would help me. It would make 
some envious ; some would call me parson, and say 
the white people had spoiled me ; and nobody 
would take me to be the same Castile I have always 
been. There is nothing better for me than this 
same old cart.* " 

At the beginning of the year 1830, the South 
Carolina Conference was divided, the Georgia Con- 
ference set off, and the Savannah river made the 
dividing line. At the close of the year Dr. Capers 
completed his quadrennial term on the Charleston 
District. During the four years there had been an 
accession to the membership of the Church within 
the bounds of the district, of one thousand one 
hundred and forty-nine whites, and two thousand 
two hundred and forty-nine colored. 

His next station was Columbia. It was soon 
found that the crowds attracted by his eloquent 
preaching made it necessary to have a larger church. 
Arrangements were accordingly made for the erec- 
tion of a brick edifice, of which, in the course of 
the summer, he laid the corner-stone. 

Dr. Thomas Cooper was at this time the President 
of the State College at Columbia ; a man of large 
scientific acquirements and vigorous intellect, but 



DR. THOMAS COOPER. 818 

understood to be skeptical in his opinions on 
religion. The fortunes of the college were waning 
under his administration, as Christian sentiment in 
the country arrayed itself against an institution 
which, it was feared, was becoming the arida nutriz 
of infidel principles. This probably gave addi- 
tional exasperation to the learned President, and 
shai^ened the edge of his invective against the 
clergy. Early in May, Dr. Cooper sent a copy of 
his last Commencement address, printed and pub- 
lished at the request of the senior class, to Dr. 
Capers, accompanied with a polite letter in which 
he said : ** I feel desirous that my invectives against 
a money-seeking, hireling ministry, may not be 
understood as applying to the ministers of the 
Methodist persuasion, whose very moderate re- 
ceipts, as a pecuniary compliment from their con- 
gregations, have never been considered by me in 
the light of a compensation ; and because the ambi- 
tious projects of some of the clergy to establish a 
union between Church and State (of which, I regret 
to say, I have undeniable proofs) are by no means 
participated in, or in any degree approved, by the 
leaders of your persuasion. When I find myself 
mistaken in this opinion, my present respect for 
the Methodists will be greatly lessened. At pre- 
sent, I hope and believe, they are fully deserving 
not merely of my personal approbation, for their 
praiseworthy and quiet demeanor, and absence 
from all political intermeddling, but they have 
earned also, and enjoy, the respect and approbation 
14 



814 LIFE OF William capers. 

of the public. With John and Charles Wesley, 
and the two sons of the latter, I was well acquainted 
in my eariy day, and a visitor in the family of the 
latter. During my occasional intercourse with that 
great and good man, John Wesley, I was fully 
persuaded, from much personal observation, that he 
received from his hearers food and clothing and a 
horse, and no more. I knew his habits, and I 
know, too, that he died in circumstances fully con- 
firming his oft-repeated declaration, that if he left 
behind him at his death more thaii ten pounds, 
when his funeral expenses were paid, the world 
might consider him a thief and a robber. A sect 
organized by such a man, so thinking and so 
acting, ii3 not likely to be over-anxious either for 
wealth or power.*' 

The letter concluded with sincere assurances of 
goad-will and great respect. 

Dr. Capers made suitable acknowledgments in 
reply ; but took occasion, with becoming respect, 
to suggest that it appeared to him that the public 
would be apt to consider the invectives of the 
address as levelled against the clergy of all sects ; 
and that against a pvi^lic implication it might be 
improper fo^ him to acknowledge a private exemp- 
tion, further than as a compliment to an individual. 

To this Dr. Cooper replied : "I do not see how I 
can publicly express my opinion that a hireling 
ministry is a t^rm not applicable to the teachers 
and preachers of your persuasion ; but you are at 
fell liberty to use my letter as you see fit." 



LETTER TO DR. COOPER. 816 

In a subsequent letter, Dr. Cooper expressed him- 
self frankly in. respect to his own religious opin- 
ions. He thought that the leaning of the doctrines 
of Jesus Christ, and the Apostle John, was in 
favor of those opinions : whether they could be 
reconciled to the notions of St. Paul, "the great 
corrupter of Christianity,** as he thought, he could 
not affirm. His opinions, at least, had cost him 
much hard study and anxious inquiry. 

The following admirable passage closed a long 
letter, in return, from Dr. Capers: "With respect 
to your opinion of Christian doctrine, I have 
nothing to remark in the way of controversy. I 
am fully persuaded that neither metaphysics nor 
logic ever made or can make a true Christian. 
The way to Christ, who is the Saviour of all men, 
must be level and accessible to all. ' Jesus answered 
and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven 
and earth, because thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto 
babes.* And again : * If any man will do his will, 
he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, 
or whether I speak of myself.* I forbear a quota- 
tion from St. Paul; but allow me to express my 
regret that you should consider him 'the great 
corrupter of Christianity.* Alas, sir, ' if the found- 
ations be destroyed, what can the righteous do V 
Suffer me thus far, and let me add, out of an honest 
heart., the following sentiments. Of all men, 
merely man, who have ever lived, I most admire 
that one, who (the plenary inspiration of the 



816 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

apostle aside) gave the highest evidence of a 
disinterested and unlimited devotion to the will of 
God and the good of mankind ; who followed the 
light of Heaven without faltering, though it led 
him to a distance from every worldly interest, to 
take for his daily fare hunger and thirst, bonds and 
imprisonment, stripes, stoning, and death ; and 
who, more than any other, was honored of God as 
an instrument of spreading abroad the unsearchable 
riches of Christ/' 



HISS JANB A. FAtrST. <(17 



CHAPTER VI. 

Miss Jane A. Faust — Miss Maxwell — An awakening sermon — Rhymes 
— Dr. Capers removes to Charleston — General Conference of 1882 
— Is offered the Presidency of LaGrange College. 

In the circle of young, admiring, loving friends 
whom Dr. Capers drew around him in Columbia, 
was one whose preeminent worth, intellectual and 
moral, won a high place in his esteem — Miss Jane 
A. Faust. His preaching and conversation were 
eminently adapted to impress a mind like hers. 
The sentiment of admiration deepened into a 
serious concern for her soul ; and she was led to 
Christ, and found peace in believing. She became 
a communicant in the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in the course of the next year, under the ministry 
of the Rev. Josiah Freeman, for whom also she 
felt a very high regard. Dr. Capers, a few years 
after her death, published in the Southern Chris- 
tian Advocate a couple of brief elegiac poems, 
written on the occasion of her early and lamented 
departure, by her friend Mrs. Martin ; prefacing 
them by describing Miss Faust as one "who 
possessed and exercised, especially in the latter 
years of her brief and lovely life, the highest quali- 
fications for making one's friends happy.** He ex- 



918 LIFE OF WILLIi^M OAPBRS. 

pressed his admiration of " her genius, accomplish- 
ments, sweetness of spirit, devotion to her friends, 
and piety towards God;'* and added: "Miss Faust 
never made a book — she shrank from publicity — 
but I have known no one whose conversation or 
letters were superior if equal to hers." 

From such a source, this is high praise ; but it 
was well deserved. Miss Faust's mind was by 
native endowment of the highest order; and it 
was developed by early, careful, and varied culture. 
Racy, sparkling, and full of animation, her con- 
versation possessed a charm for every listener. Its 
excellences were so peculiar that a public speaker, 
desirous of fashioning his style upon the best 
models, might have cultivated her society, on the 
principle which induced Cicero to resort to the 
company of the noble and refined Roman matrons, 
to perfect his mastery of the Latin tongue. The 
fascination of her manners and the grace of her 
carriage were in keeping with her "winged and 
winning speech.'* Her eye shone with the clear 
light of a serene intellect ; and her face was radiant 
with the beaming of sincerity and pure-mindedness. 
Her look indicated warmth of heart, and steady 
resolve, as though she could stand for the truth, 
like Abdiel, 

" Amidst revolted multitudes, alone." 

In her religious experience she was ever watchful 
lest well-formed opinions should be mistaken for 
gracious feelings, and a correct judgment of things • 
be allowed to pass for an active principle of piety. 



MISS JANE' A. FAUST. 919 

Her faith in Christ rested on an intelligent perr 
ception of the fact that in the circumstances of 
moral defection which environ the human race, 
merit is an impossible plea; that the sinner must 
be saved by grace ; and that this grace is " through 
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Away 
from all conceit of self-righteousness, her spirit 
hasted to the sanctuary whose altar yet retains the 
fragrance of the sacrifice " once offered*' by the 
"Victim Divine,'* and whose foundation was hewn 
from the "Rock of Ages.*' The strength of her 
piet}*^ was tested, and its loveliness illustrated, 
amidst manifold physical sufferings. In the flower 
of life consumption did its fatal work. In the last 
letter she ever wrote, when too feeble to converse 
with the kind friends who waited upon her, and 
watched the advance of the shadow of deatq, and 
with strength scarce sufficient to guide her pen, 
she said : " There seems to be much physical suffer- 
ing in store for me ; but it matters not, if Christ be 
mine. Washed and sanctified by his Spirit, (if at 
last it should be,) the struggles of frail mortality 
will not affect the homeward bound of my reno- 
vated spirit. Sometimes I am so weary of myself 
and sin, so ' tempest-tossed and afflicted and not 
comforted,' that I long to be at rest. O for a full, 
unwavering trust in Christ for salvation from all 
sift ! Feeble as my faith is, how precious does the 
blood of Christ appear — how sweet the hope of 
pardon he has purchased for us !" A week or two 
after this, on the evening of January 2, 1834, she 



820 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

entered into her everlasting rest. With perfect 
composure of mind, with the exclamation, " Bound- 
less mercy, full and free !** whispered forth again 
and again — her bodily sufferings all ended — death 
gently loosed the bonds of the frail tabernacle, and 
set free the immortal spirit to find a congenial 
home in the abodes of light and bliss, where reign 
for ever sceptred Mercy and enthroned Love. 

Do we feel to wonder why powers and capabili- 
ties such as these should just appear and then 
vanish ? Are we surprised that excellence of the 
highest order, fitted to enrich and adorn human 
society, the embodiment of one's pure ideal beauty, 
should pass away in its freshest morning bloom ? 
that some bright particular star, the cynosure of 
every .admiring eye, should suddenly disappear like 
the Iddt-Pleiad ? The intuition of reason, which 
cannot I deceive us in such a case, is that a prepa- 
ration so elaborate, a prelude so magnificent, can- 
not thus end, but must have a fitting completion. 
What that completion is, and where we are to find 
it. Revelation has unerringly taught. Heaven is 
the magnet which has drawn to itself all this early 
loveliness and excellence. The celestial bowers, 
where live the loved and lost, supply the congenial 
atmosphere for the expansion of these high and 
holy qualities. From the city of God, the long-lost 
friends of our youth wave a welcome to us ; — is it 
saying too much, to add, that probably they will be 
the first to greet our approach ? 

When Mary poured the spikenard over the head 



MISS MAXWELL. 821 

of Jesus, the testimoDial of an adoring love which 
counted nothing too costly, the tribute of a vene- 
ration which recognized the Lord of glory in the 
"Man of sorrows,** Jesus said: "Wheresoever this 
gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there 
shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told 
for a memorial of her.*' Let this page be, in its 
humble measure, a memento of one of Mary*s own 
sex, as lovely, perchance, in person, with a sensi- 
bility as tender, an intelligence as quick, who 
exercised faith in Jesus, while Mary had the evi- 
dence of sense; who possessed the consummated 
truth and blessing of the gospel, while Mary stood 
only at the brightening dawn ; who poured out the 
fragrance of her heart's most precious affections at 
the feet of the same Jesus ; saw in him the face of 
infinite beauty ; found in the mystery of his tran- 
scendent love the theme of loftiest thought and 
ever-adoring delight; and to the last throb of 
consciousness trusted her all in his hands — then 
passed on into the upper sanctuary, to the bright- 
ness and rapture of the vision for ever. 

Among the young lady friends of Dr. Capers in 
Columbia, was another who owed much of her 
religious impressions to his instrumentality — Miss 
Maxwell, now Mrs. William Martin. Her own 
account of the first sermon she heard from him is as 
follows: "His text was the sixty-seventh Psalm, 
entire. Now, for the first time, I heard preaching 
with the hearing ear. The sermon was a beautiful 

paraphrase of the Psalm. Never, till this evening 
21 



dS2 LIFB OF WILLIAM eAPBBS. 

at church, had mj mind so realized the might, 
inigesty, and grandeur of that God, 'glorious in 
holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders/ What 
a new gospel it appeared to me, so full of benefi- 
cence, love, and mercy! I had listened to dis- 
courses of learning, eloquence, and fluency before, 
but never before heard the message that went 
straight to my heart. I felt it was for me. That 
message I must hearken to and obey. It was im- 
perative on me to do so. Woe was me, I felt, if I 
regarded it not. Before, I had been convinced of 
sin, but the impression had been vague, and had 
proved evanescent. Now I felt that the matter 
between me and my God must be settled at once 
But my mind was still much clouded, my views 
confused, my thoughts perplexed. The minister 
of that evening was, providentially, a guest at the 
house of a mutual friend in my immediate neigh- 
borhood. Frequently it was arranged that I had 
the opportunity of conversing with him touching 
those tbings that would make for my peace. How 
beautifully he smoothed, and simplified, and 
softened all, till my difficulties were removed, and 
my way was clear to follow Jesus in the regene- 
ration !" 

This lady has kindly furnished the following jm 
(Tesprit from the pen of Dr. Capers. It was in 
answer to a poetical letter, written on the eve of 
the Doctor's departure from Columbia, and bears 
date, Charleston, February 17, 1882 : 



f 

f 



r*( 



MISS MAXWELL. S2S 

" My dear Margaret : — You must not be grieved 
that the lines you put into my wife's hand so kind- 
ly, when I was leaving Columbia, and one other sim- 
ilar provocation, should rouse me a little. Some of 
you good girls have such a propensity to mischief, 
that one can hardly get along with you without 
fetching a slap now and then. I remember to have 
given Jane (Miss Faust) a sound box once for 
something she said — actually struck her a blow 
on the shoulder — and she thanked me for it, * be- 
cause,' said she, 'I know you are not vexed with 
me, or you would not slap me.' As for your part, 
I dare say this same black and white box I am 
giving you will be returned by a courtesy, and you 
will have impudence enough to tell me I like to be 
flattered, or I would not take the trouble to dis- 
claim it. Well, who knows but I do like to be, 
when it is done so decently as by Miss Maxwell ? 
But I forewarn you, you are not to make a poetaster 
of me. A poet I cannot be made by both of us 
together. The Fates, if there be any, do positively 
forbid it. It is a great eflfort to put rhymes of my 
forming into gifted hands — or even into any hands 
at all — and yet I believe some very clever men have 
been guilty of some very prosing rhymes. 

" Yours affectionately, W. Oapsbb.' 



'< I always haye heard that affection was kind, 
And now I've discoyered she also is blind ; 
Pats out her own eyes that her heart may be free 
Tcimagine perfections she never coidd 



fft 



824 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS, 

'Tis strange, I confess, but 'tis certainly true, 

(I owe the discovery, Margaret, to you,) 

I have proof upon proof of it, rife and at hand, 

That might challenge belief all over the land. 

There lived where / lived a girl of your name, • 

And so like yourself she might pass for the same ; 

A very good girl, and a girl of much wit. 

Except where I'll tell where she showed not a bit. 

This same clever girl had a friend whom I knew, 

A friend as like me as she was like you ; 

A well-meaning man, and a preacher withal, 

Who, besides being honest, claimed nothing at all. 

Except the rare luck, if luck it might be, 

To have friends among folks that were better than he. 

Of these — and indeed they were many and true — 

Was the girl I have mentioned as so much like you ; 

And, as was the person, her friendship, I ween. 

Was just like the friendship that joins us between ; 

That same hearty feeling of feeling at heart. 

For better or worse, each to take other's part. 

• •••••• 

The good man was bald, but a complaisant whim 
Could convert even baldness to beauty for him ; 
For his hair had but fallen in grace to his head. 
That a wreath of Parnassus might grow in its stead ; 
And the Muses were there with their pencils of fire, 
And cymbals, and lutes, and the sweet-sounding lyre. 
To crown with a glory, and chant to the skies, 
Whom, think ye? — Alas for the sight of blind eyes!'* 

The two following years were spent in Charles- 
ton. In April, 1832, he took ship for New York, 
m route to Philadelphia, the seat of the General 
Conference, to which he had been appointed one 
of the delegates of the South Carolina Conference. 
The following are extracts from his correspondence 
with Mrs. Capers : 



GBKERAL K S" fi R fi KC.B. 826 

" New Yoek, April 26, 1882. 

''After as pleasant a passage as a reasonable 
man might hope for, we arrived here this morning. 
On the way, and till now, I have had no symptom 
of my complaint, (neuralgia,) and my general 
health is very good. I suffered, however, with my 
unsteady head during most of the voyage, and as 
much, nearly, as on my first voyage at sea. The 
preachers were very sick for the first two days, ex- 
cept brothers Dunwody and Bass, who were not 
sick at all, but did justice to their stomachs from 
first to last. English and Sinclair suffered most. 
We had no storm, nor, indeed, any rough weather. 
The wind, when ahead, was moderate, and for 
three days we had almost a dead calm. I am 
writing this in Bishop McKendree's room, at the 
house of brother Francis Hall. The Bishop is as 
well as I have seen him for a long time. I have 
nothing more worth telling, just now having 
landed." 



" Philadblphia, May 1. 

" The General Conference commenced its session 
this morning, and has entered upon business under 
favorable circumstances. Bishops McKendree, 
Soule, and Hedding are with us. Bishop Roberts 
has not yet arrived, but is daily expected. Brother 
Andrew and myself are most delightfully situated 
at brother Longacre's, (the distinguished engraver,) 
who, and his charming wife, are most kindly and 
affectionately careful of us in all respects. You 



dS6 LIFfi OP WILLIAM CAPEBS. 

will not expect me to give any important informa- 
tion respecting the transactions of the Conference 
for some time yet. I cannot even conjecture what 
may be done. With respect to any thing that may 
be thought of respecting myself, I will do all I can 
with a good conscience to come back to Charleston 
and Carolina as I left ; holding still my motto, 

' Let me be little and unknown, 
Loved and prized by God alone.' 

It is possible some efforts will be made to place me 
in the Book Agency. But as I am not fashioned 
on a business model, I can, with a good conscience, 
excuse myself. I eat enormously, sleep soundly, 
and am growing fat; indeed, I never felt myself in 
better health, though perhaps I have been stronger 
than at present.*' 

"Philadelphia, May 12. 

" Since my last we have not carried through 
much business to its final termination ; but much 
has been brought into Conference, and is under 
consideration. The resolution I drew up at home 
respecting the regular and full publication of the 
pecuniary transactions of the Annual Conferences, 
so far as relates to the deficiencies of the preachers, 
and the widows and orphans of preachers, has 
passed without opposition. The Committee on 
Bibles, Tracts, and Sunday-school Books, adopted, 
and have reported, a series of resolutions which I 
prepared; and, what is gratifying, without one 
word from me in support of them. I feel pretty 



0BNERAL COKFERENOB. 82T 

30iifldeQt I shall escape all other honors but that 
desirable one of helping some little towards the 
accomplishment of the business of the Church on 
which we are met. I have it not yet in my power to 
say how many Bishops we shall elect, or who will 
be the men. It think it pretty well ascertained, or 
at least enough so to authorize a guess, that if but 
one Bishop be elected, he will be brother Andrew 
or Dr. Emorv. If two, these will be the men. 
But if three, the guess for the third is uncertain. 
Most of the Northern brethren say they consider 
we ought to have a Bishop at the South, and will 
vote for brother Andrew on our recommendation 
as the man. With respect to having a paper at 
Charleston, I think the chance rather doubtful. 
But I am glad to say there is a good prospect of 
getting brother Durbin as editor of the Christian 
Advocate and Journal, in whose hands the paper 
will not be liable to any objections from the South.** 

** Philadblphia, May 18. 

" I WRITE this chiefly because I know you will 
look for frequent information respecting my health, 
which was never better than at present. With re- 
gard to the Conference, you would probably feel no 
special interest in the acts we have passed since I 
spoke of it, except, perhaps, a vote for making two 
additional Bishops. Who they will be, we yet 
know not. The expectation, however, is in favor 
of brothers Andrew and Emory. I fear the speech- 
making fever, which I hoped, but in vain, would 



328 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

subside as the Conference progressed, may protract 
oar session to the close of the month almost. If 
any appointment should be urged upon me at this 
General Conference, it may possibly be the editor- 
ship of the Advocate. That, at least, is one which 
I judge most important to the South, and to which 
fewest objections on a personal account might be 
made. Tou are not to expect I shall be put into 
this editorship. Expect the reverse, and that old 
Charleston, good old Charleston, will be our place 
for awhile. It may occur, however, as a pos- 
sible event, if it appear that we cannot get a suit- 
able man, with kind feelings towards Southern 
interests, that I may have to go to New York.'* 

** Philadelphia, May 21. 

"In my last, after telling you that you might 
dismiss all apprehension of my being put into the 
editorship at New York, I had to say that such a 
disposition of me was not altogether impossible^ 
though I believed it altogether improbable. I have 
all along maintained the course I had taken, to 
keep myself aloof from any thing like a disposition 
to seek, or a readiness to accept, any situation in 
the election of the General Conference; and still I 
think I shall escape, and get back to my own dear 
South Carolina as I came. But during to-day, 
there has appeared a disposition to press me a 
little, and I have had to say to our delegation from 
South Carolina, that if they, who knew best how 
to judge of the necessity, or otherwise, of my re- 



BISHOPS ANDREW AND EMORY. 8^9 

maining in South Carolina, thought, after due de- 
liberation, that I might be more usefully employed 
for the Church at New York, they might speak of 
me as they judged proper. I do not expect to be 
put into the place, and the less because I have not 
been sooner put forward ; or, as I ought rather to 
say, my name has not been, for as to myself ^ I am, 
and expect to be, wholly withdrawn from every 
thing like a movement towards such a disposition 
of myself." 

"Mat 22. 

" We have just finished the election for Bishops. 
Brother Andrew and Dr. Emory are elected. The 
number of votes was two hundred and seventeen, 
making the majority one hundred and nine. 
Andrew got one hundred and forty votes, and 
Emory one hundred and thirty-five, on the first ballot, 
and were thus handsomely elected at the first trial. 
I think you need not be anxious about the editor- 
ship." 

Dr. Capers very fortunately escaped the honor 
and responsibility of being made Editor of the 
Christian Advocate and Journal. In his circum- 
stances, and with his keen sensibilities, the post . 
would, in all likelihood, have been painfully un- 
comfortable, aside altogether from the necessity of 
a residence in a distant State. The unreserved ex- 
pression of his opinions in regard to the matter, 
presented in the foregoing confidential correspond- 



380 LIFE 01' WiLLlAM CAfEHfil. 

eiice with his wife, shows the true nature of the man. 
and sets in a fine light his scrupulous delicacy in 
regard to office. 

In September of this year, Dr. Paine, President 
of LaGrange College, Alabama, in a letter inform- 
ing Dr. Capers of the election of his son-in-law, 
the Rev. W. H. Ellison, to a professorship in that 
college, stated his own desire to leave the institu- 
tion, in order to enter upon the more active duties 
of the itinerant field. He added, however, that the 
trustees were reluctant to release him unless they 
could find one competent and willing to take the 
presidency. He therefore applied to Dr. Capers to 
know whether he could be prevailed on to accept 
that post. To this application Dr. Capers yielded 
at first a reluctant consent, stating that, whatever 
his private views of his own fitness might be, he 
would not hold himself absolved From the bidding 
of the Church; and that if the Presiding Bishop 
at the next session of the South Carolina Confer- 
ence should judge it best, for the general interests 
of the Church, to sanction his acceptance of the 
office, and transfer him to the Tennessee Confer- 
ence, he would be ready to obey. A few weeks* 
reflection on the subject, however, changed his 
views. His embarrassment lay in his own appre- 
hension of want of scholastic qualifications. "For 
this cause,*' he says, "I must beg to decline the 
appointment. Could I fulfil 4n the South-west' 
the part, or something like the part, of ' Dr. Pisk 
in the North-east' — could I by accepting your call 



DECLINES PBESIBENCY OF OOIlilSaES. S&t 

build up the cause of Christian literature in that 
interesting portion of our Church and country, 
most gladly would I undertake it. But alas ! I 
am not what you suppose me to be ; and were I to 
attempt to stretch myself to the height of your kind 
opinion, it would only result in extreme mortifica- 
tion to both of us.*' 

Similar applications were subsequently made to 
him in regard to the Presidency of the University 
of Louisiana, and that of Randolph Macon College, 
Virginia; but he declined in both instances. 



d82 LIFB OV WILLIAM OAPEBS. 



OHAPTEE VII. 

Hospitality — Rey. John Hutchinson — The little mail-carrier and 
the overcoat — Outlay of beneyolence speedily returned and 
doubled. 

"Given to hospitality'* — a lover of strangers — 
this is one of the marks of a New Testament 
Bishop. The virtue inculcated in these terms was 
exercised by Dr. Capers, to the full extent of his 
means. Scarcely a day went by without witness- 
ing some accession to his family circle, at one or 
other of the meals. The native bent of his disposi- 
tion, his early domestic training, as well as his 
prominent position in the Church, made his hospi- 
tality a notable trait in his character. Preachers 
from a distance, in quest of health, particularly if 
they were supposed to be in narrow circumstances, 
were welcome to his house, and made to feel per- 
fectly at home, and entertained for weeks. In all 
this, he was cordially seconded and sustained by 
his wife — one of the most amiable of her sex, who 
never seemed to regard for a moment any personal 
trouble which might be entailed upon her by the 
open-handed hospitalities of her husband. One out 
of a multitude of instances illustrating this feature 



HOSPITALITY. 888 

m the character of Dr. Capers, is furnished by the 
Rev. H. A. C. Walker, one of his colleagues in 1838, 
in the following incident : 

"In the year 1833," says Mr. Walker, "I lived 
in the family of Dr. Capers, in Charleston. In 
the autumn of the year, the Rev. Mr. Parrish, of 
one of the ^tforthern Conferences, came to Dr. C.*8, 
being on a Southern tour seeking relief from con- 
sumption. He sojourned with us for ten days or a 
fortnight, if I remember correctly, and was greatly 
pleased, as well he might be. The Doctor had a 
sort of half pony horse, which, in connection with 
a gig and a saddle, had done good service in aiding 
us in the preaching and pastoral work of the 
station, through the summer especially. But the 
year was drawing to a close, and as it was the 
Doctor's second year in the city, and he could not 
therefore be returned, he and his faithful ' Bill* 
must part. It was known that he was for sale. A 
purchaser appeared, and a fair offer was made. It 
occurred to Mr. Parrish that on that horse he could 
wander through the country as he pleased. He so 
said to Dr. Capers, but his funds were low. 'If he 
will serve you,' said the Doctor, 'you may have 
horse, saddle, and bridle for forty dollars; and 
I am only sorry I cannot afford to put him 
lower still.' This was far below the value of the 
horse. He was sold; and the grateful invalid 
mounted the trusty animal and set off*. In my next 
year's circuit, I heard of ' brother Parrish,' for he 
had travelled and sojourned among the people, and 



S84 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

of the ^ great bargain brother Capers had given hiiB 
in that horse !' Mr. Parrish seemed to have told 
it everywhere with grateful exultation. I heard 
afterwards, that after much wandering, the horse 
bore the preacher safe to his home. 

" In the same year, three young preachers came 
from the North, bearing letters of introduction 
from the immortal Fisk. Dr. Capers immediately 
found quarters for two of them, and took the third 
to be his own guest. He had room for no more, 
and this one had to share my bed. He spent a 
fortnight or so with us, before finding employment 
as a teacher. One day at table, the Doctor's eldest 
son, Frank, a bright, promising boy, then at the 
Charleston College, and who has not belied that 
promise, used the word 'belovedj* in a quotation, 
I think, from Scripture. *Belov-ed,* said his 
father, correcting him. 'Why so. Dr. Capers ?\ 
inquired the young scholar from New England. 
*I think,' was the reply, 'there is a difference 
between beloved as a participle, and as an adjec- 
tive.' 'But,' continued the guest with the in- 
quiring intonation, ' I do not remember any such 
rule in the books.' 'Nor do I,' said the Doctor, 
'and yet I can perceive a very marked distinction 
mentally. I would say,' he added, 'John learned 
his lesson well;' and then I would say, 'Dr. Fisk 
is a learn-ed man.' 'I have no objection at all to 
your distinction. Doctor ; I think I like it,' said Mr. 
Bound ; for the guest was the Rev. G. H. Bound, 
ftince so well and so favorably known ajnong us. 



THE REV. JOHN HUTCHINSON. 886 



Si 



The former anecdote illustrates Dr. Capers'e 
generosity of character ; the latter his exactness in 
some, if not in all respects, in the use of words. 
And yet he was far, very far removed from hyper- 
criticism.*' 

A few years before the time referred to by Mr. 
Walker, an interesting young minister from the 
North, Hutchinson by name, received very touch- 
ing proof of the disinterested kindness of Mr. 
Capers and his family. Mr. Hutchinson was an 
invalid, far gone indeed in consumption. He was 
a lovely young man, destined to an early grave ; 
and with scanty means was seeking the alleviations 
of a Southern climate during cold weather. He 
was welcomed into the house of Mr. Capers, and 
enlisted the affectionate solicitude of parents, child- 
ren, and even servants. He remained with the 
family seven or eight months, and had a servant 
boy to wait on him, and sleep at night in his 
chamber. Far away from his own kindred, with 
the blight of premature decay stealing over his 
early prospects, Mr. Hutchinson received all the 
attentions which his circumstances required; and 
by the example of a beautiful resignation, and deep 
piety, and thankful spirit, showed that the kind- 
ness was worthily bestowed. At the close of his 
protracted stay, it was as if a member of the family 
were bidding the last adieus. At the vessel which 
was to carry him back to his native New England 
hills, to lie in the burial-place of his kindred, the 
boy^ Strephon, who had waited upon him, bimt 



836 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

into tears, as though about to lose his own young 
master. 

The story of John, the little postboy, is worthy 
of being told in this connection, although the event 
occurred in one of the earlier years of Mr. Capers's 
ministry. At a country-inn, on one of his journeys, 
Mr. Capers had stopped for the night, after a very 
cold day's ride. After supper, he found a small 
lad sitting by the fire, thinly clad, and with a look 
of anxiety in his face. The proprietor of the house 
presently said, *' John, if I were you, I would not 
go to-night.'* At these words the little fellow's 
tears began to flow; and he replied, "Why did 
you say so? you know I must go." Mr. Capers 
asked what John's business was. He learned that 
the boy was a mail-carrier, and had to take the 
mail-bag twenty-one miles that night. He had no 
other clothing than what he then wore, all of cotton 
goods, and thin enough. The night was bitter, 
and rain and sleet were then falling. Mr. Capers 
told him that he must freeze to death if he per- 
sisted in going ; and that if he would abandon the 
attempt, his employer should be informed that he 
had remained by the advice and persuasion of 
friends. To this the little fellow, in tears, said, " I 
must go : if I don't I shall lose my place, and then 
my mother and sister will starve." Shortly after- 
wards, the mail-carrier who brought the mail which 
John was to take forward arrived. He came to 
the fire, throwing off a large bear-skin overcoat 
loaded with sleet ; and, with a profane expression, 



THK LITTLE M A I L-C A B R I E B. 887 

declared that he was frozen through. Mr. Caper* 

said to hira, " Friend, if, with your overcoat on, you 

are nearly frozen, what will be the fate of this poor 

boy, thinly clad as he is, who has to ride twenty-one 

miles and carry the mail you have brought V " He 

will not live to get over the swamp that is just ahead, 

and four miles wide,*' said he. Mr. Capers then 

went to the landlady, to purchase a quilt or blanket 

to cover John, who persisted that he must try to 

go. She said she could spare nothing of the kind. 

"Madam," said he, "let me have this half-worn 

blanket for the child ; I will give you four dollars. 

for if "No, sir,'* she said, "you will all find 

before morning that I have no blanket to sell.*' 

Returning to the fire, he said to the owner of the 

overcoat, " Sir, will you sell me your overcoat for 

this boy?" i* Yes,'* said he, "if I can get cost for 

it, eight dollars." The money was immediately 

paid, and Mr. Capers handed the coat to the boy, 

whose eyes instantly brightened. He put it on, 

and soon set out on his dreary ride. This purchase 

had exhausted Mr. Capers's money, and left him 

only twenty-five cents. The next morning he took 

formal leave of the family without asking for his 

bill, determining to send back, as soon as he 

arrived home, the amount usually charged for a 

night's lodging. On the part of the host, nothing 

was said about pay when he departed. The next 

night he lodged with a Presbyterian family, with 

whom he had no acquaintance. When the time 

came for family worship, his host, impressed by 
22 



338 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

his appearance and conversation that he was a 
religious man, invited him to join them, and to 
lead the devotional exercises. After prayers, he 
inquired if the stranger were not a minister. Mr. 
Capers told him who he was, and that he was 
returning home after a year's work on the circuit 
he had just travelled. Before breakfast the next 
morning, he said to Mr. Capers : " Friend, we do 
not belong to the same denomination of Christians. 
You are a Methodist, and I am a Presbyterian. It 
is, I dare say, with ministers of your denomination 
as with ours. You at times stand in need of a 
little money. Will you please accept of this?'* 
handing him twenty dollars. On reaching home, 
Mr. Capers enclosed a proper amount in a letter to 
the tavern-keeper where he had met with the post- 
boy, explaining the circumstances. iThe money, 
however, was soon returned, on the ground that 
they never charged preachers ; and he was requested 
to call again whenever he passed that way. Thus 
quickly and signally did he realize the truth of the 
Divine word, "Give, and it shall be given unto 
you, good measure." 



TBOUBLSS IN CHABLR8T0K. 889 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Troubles in the Church in Charleston — Transferred to the Georgia 
Conference and stationed at Savannah — Lewis Myers-Delivers a 
eulogy on Lafayette. 

The close of the year 1833 was a period of anxi- 
ety and trouble to Dr. Capers. The existing Board 
of Trustees of the M. E. Church in Charleston, 
of which he then had the pastoral charge, was 
made up of old and tried members. But they 
were exceedingly conservative in their ideas, and 
were much inclined to adhere strenuously to the old 
style of doing things, which was sufficiently slow. 
A somewhat faster generation had come on, who 
desired, with laudable zeal, to have an acceleration 
in the speed of these elderly brethren in the man- 
agement of the temporalities of the society. Old 
Fogyism and Young America came into collision 
at the Quarterly Meeting held August 30th. A set 
of resolutions was introduced instructing the 
trustees to make certain alterations in the sittings 
of the church edifices. The trustees could not be 
got together for an^ interview with the committee 
of the Quarterly Conference. The latter party un- 
dertook to force matters ; and soon there came up 



340 LIFB OF VILLIAH OAPBBS. 

a spirit of dogged resistance on the one part, and 
an eager determination to succeed on the other. 
There being no disciplinary mode of putting out 
of office the trustees, who went jogging on in the 
old way, securely covered in their rights and privi- 
leges by the existing law of the Church, the Young 
America party rummaged about, and exhumed from 
the dust and rubbish of near half a century an 
act of incorporation, which had the singular quality 
on its face of naming no individuals. There existed 
no record of the names of even the persons who 
applied for the charter. No particle of evidence 
could be brought to show that the communicants 
of the church in 1787 were the original members 
of the corporation ; and even if that could have 
been done, all the original corporators were long 
since dead, without having perpetuated the corpo- 
ration by a succession of officers and members, or 
even, apart from the Board of Trustees, held a 
single official meeting. The original charter had 
consequently lapsed ; or at least the usage of the 
Methodist society in Charleston from 1784 had 
legalized the Board of Trustees, who, in conformity 
with the book of Discipline, had managed all the 
property affairs of the Church, and supplied by 
election from time to time the vacancies occurring. 
Under cover of this act, now rescued from its 
mouldering oblivion, a "corporation" meeting was 
called, which passed sundry rules and by-laws, and 
elected a Board of Trustees ; not by the first move 
ousting the existing Board, but electing them ad 



TROUBLES IN CHARLESTON. ^41 

Ue Board, and serving them with a notice that 
fifteen days were allowed them to determine whether 
they would serve or not, under the authority of the 
sci'disant corporation. This meeting was held 
November 12th, and was adjourned to meet on the 
evening of the first Monday in December. The sur- 
charged gun did no harm to the old Board, but its re- 
coil was bad for the corporation cause. Matters, in 
the opinion of the preacher in charge, had reached the 
point of a revolutionary movement. He therefore 
addressed to the leaders of the coup d'etat party a 
letter of reproof, setting forth in several distinct 
items the evidence of their being implicated in 
"disobedience to the order and discipline of the 
Church.'* The adjourned meeting was, neverthe- 
less, held; the corporators elected nine of their 
own party a Board of Trustees, and twenty-five 
others an Executive Committee. On the 7th of 
December Dr. Capers took one of his colleagues 
with him, the Rev. H. A. C. Walker, and saw and 
conversed with nine of the refractory members, 
who had been previously addressed by him in 
writing. When they had severally refused to re- 
linquish their participation in the measures and 
acts complained of, each one was served with a 
citation to trial, upon the charge of "disobedience 
to the order and discipline of the Church,*' followed 
by five specifications. The parties then demanded 
to be tried by the society. This privilege was not 
^ant'ed, on the ground of the invariable practice 
m the Charleston Methodist Society, and as beiii|; 



842 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPBBS. 

a precedent of evil tendency in circumstances such 
as then surrounded the case. The trial* was an- 
nounced to be held December 9th. On the day 
previous, Sunday, it occurred to Dr. Capers, his 
mind being in great distress, that he would, as a 
last resort, try the force of a personal appeal. Ac- 
cordingly at night, by his request, he was met by 
the gentlemen whose trial was to be held the next 
day; and after a touching appeal, not unmingled 
with tears, to their sense of religious feeling, he 
proposed for their signature a paper he had drawn 
up, which stated that, in kindness to the opinions 
and feelings of the ministry and brethren, they 
agreed that the proceedings of the two corporation 
meetings should be as if they had never taken 
place, provided that the records of the Church, 
deeds of conveyance, and the like, should be sub- 
mitted to the Judges of the Court of Appeals for 
their decision as to the question of the existence 
of a corporation, and in w4iom it vested if it did 
exist. To this paper all present, twenty-two in 
number, put their signatures, and the citation to 
trial was withdrawn. 

This promising adjustment came to nothing. 
Dr. Capers left Charleston December 31, to attend 
the session of the Georgia Conference. On his 
return, January 23d, 1834, he was waited on by 
several of the signers of the paper aforementioned, 
and informed that they considered themselves re- 
leased from the obligation of their signatures, on 
the ground that they were satisfied that the refer- 



SUPERINTENDENT OF MISSIONS. 348 

ence to the Judges was impracticable. This he 
heard with deep regret ; but as the term of hjs ad- 
ministration was now closing, he informed them 
that he could have no more to do with the aflair, 
but must leave it in the hands of his successor. 
The session of the South Carolina Conference was 
held in Charleston a few days afterwards, Bishop 
Emory presiding. After an unavailing effort on 
the part of that eminent man to adjust the diffi- 
culty, affairs reached their crisis in the course of 
the ensuing summer; and eight of the leading 
members of the corporation party were cited to 
trial, and expelled from the communion according 
to the forms of the book of Discipline, notwith- 
standing a large number of their friends had 
pledged themselves to leave the Church in the 
event of their expulsion. The whole case fur- 
nishes a monitory lesson against attempting to go 
too fast ; and a lesson equally monitory against the 
stand-still policy. 

Early in the year 1834, Dr. Capers was trans- 
ferred to the Georgia Conference, and stationed in 
Savannah. In connection with this appointment 
he was made Superintendent of the missions to the 
blacks, near Savannah, and on the neighboring 
islands. Bishop Emory, who presided at the ses- 
sions of the Georgia and South Carolina Confer- 
ences, specially and earnestly requested Dr. Capers 
to take the superintendence of these missions, 
although he was aware that such an arrangement 
would add considerably to the labors of his station. 



844 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

He felt it to be important, at that stage of these 
missions, to have the supervision of them intrusted 
to one known extensively and favorably to the 
planters on Savannah and Ogeechee rivers. Dr. 
Capers cheerfully accepted these increased respon- 
sibilities. His interest in the missionary work 
never flagged ; and his influence was highly valu- 
able. The writer of these memoirs had the plea- 
sure, during a visit to Savannah in the spring of 
that year, to accompany Dr. Capers on one of his 
missionary visitations, and to witness the cordial 
welcome tendered him by the planters. It was 
hard to say which was the more to be admired — 
the affability with which he condescended to " men 
of low estate*' in his intercourse with the planta- 
tion slaves to whom he preached, or the elegance 
of his manners and conversation in circles of the 
highest refinement and intelligence. 

What sort of preaching he deemed most suitable 
for plantation negroes, can best be described in his 
own words: "It should be preaching; not a dry 
lecturing on morals merely — much less a paraded 
speech of long and high-sounding words. Ser- 
mons should be short, and, of course, full of 
unction. As for the texts, all are yours. I know 
of but one gospel for all people. But we find it 
impracticable to hold preaching-meetings on our 
missions on the week-days. Although in the low- 
country, the main field of our missions, the labor 
of the plantation is assigned to the hands by daily 
tasks, and the tasks are done by two or three 



LEWIS MYEKS. 345 

o'clock in the afternoon in the BUmmer months, 
and before sunset in the winter, the negroes move 
heavily to preaching; unless you would have it 
at midnight, when they are wide awake, and you 
might fall asleep yourself. Meetings for cate- 
chism, or even class-meetings, can be held in the 
week, but for preaching, I know no time but the 
Sabbath, unless they might attend wakefully at 
the break of day, which I never tried. Great 
patience is requisite with these people. They 
must be allowed to be themselves. If, indeed, they 
have taken a dream to be conversion, or any thing 
appears inconsistent with sound belief and vital 
godliness, it must be corrected forthwith, but with 
meekness of wisdom, and in the spirit of love. But 
with respect to their modes of expressing pious 
emotion, hold them not to a rule which they may 
deem unnatural. Why should the tastes and habits 
of refined life be made to bear as a law upon the 
negro ? No one thinks of it in respect to other 
things. No: a shout that comes with a kindled 
countenance and flowing tears, is never to be an 
offence to a negro missionary." 

The writer accompanied Dr. Capers also on a 
visit to his venerable friend, Lewis Myers, whose 
residence was at Goshen, in Effingham county, 
sixteen miles from Savannah. This patriarchal 
man, some eight or ten years previously, had be- 
come superannuated, after an effective ministry of 
*ft quarter of a century ; a large portion of whieh 
time he filled the office of Presiding Elder. He 



^6 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

was of German extraction, and had the Datch 
sturdiness of build and common-sense. His^ early 
advantages had been small ; but his religion had 
made a man of him. His native shrewdness of 
mind had been cultivated by a good deal of read- 
ing, and much close study of the Bible, with much 
observation of human nature. There was, withal, 
a subdued vein of humor running through him ; a 
little quaintness that made his society piquant; 
and a remarkable gentleness and sweetness play- 
ing round what looked like the austerity of fixed 
and severe habits of personal virtue. Tou would 
hardly expect such a man to show much emotion ; 
yet he seldom preached to the close of a sermon 
without tears. He had preached the gospel *in 
nearly every part of the low country of South 
Carolina and Georgia; and had gone abreast with 
such men as Tobias Gibson, Britton Capel, and 
James Russell: preached it in the dialect of the 
common people, and to the strong, hard sense of 
the common people, who know how to digest the 
pith of an argument nearly as well as the meta- 
physicians: preached it when the population was 
sparse, churches few, and travelling vastly fatigu- 
ing; and so preached it as to leave great and 
fruitful results behind. He belonged to a class of 
men of heroic mould, who could take the saddle, 
face a day's hard rain, swim swollen creeks, live 
in the cabins of the poor, eat bear-meat if neces- 
sary, and preach without manuscript every day of 



. EULOGY ON LAFAYETTE. 847 

the week ; who went girded into the great battle- 
field where ignorance, vice, and semi-barbarism 
were to be confronted, and fought a good, honest 
fight, very different from the sham-battles of holi- 
day heroes. Mr. Myers had been a man of weight 
in the Conference, well versed in affairs, of sound 
judgment, and looked up to with universal re- 
spect. Two things are worthy of note in his 
character: he was a man of few words, well 
weighed, and to the point, and he knew when he 
was done^ and where to stop ; and he knew also how 
to decrease — to pass gracefully off the stage, and 
resign to younger men, without regret or croaking, 
the working of a system with which his strongest 
and best years had been identified. Dr. Capers 
held him in high respect for his past services to 
the Church and country, and for the purity and 
unaffected dignity of his Christian character. He 
died in November, 1851 ; and as one of the fathers 
of Southern Methodism, he has left an honored 
memory. 

In July, Dr. Capers received a communication 
from the Mayor of Savannah, enclosing the follow- 
ing resolutions passed by the City Council : 

"In Council, July 1, 1884. 

^^ Resolved, That this Board have received the 
melancholy tidings of the decease of the venerable 
Lafaj'ette with sensations of deep sorrow : that the 
event, though one to have been anticipated from his 



M8 LIVE OF WILLIAM CAP]):&S. 

advanced yeare, is nevertheless deplored as the IcHte 
of one of the last of those luminaries which led us 
to liberty and the blessings we now enjoy. 

^^ Besolved, That it be recommended to the 
citizens of Savannah to do the last honors to his 
memory, by a civic and military procession, and by 
religious services, on a day to be named by tL« 
Mayor. That the Rev. the clergy of all denomi- 
nations be requested to unite in these services ; 
and that the Rev. Dr. Capers, the son of a Revolu- 
tionary soldier, be requested to pronounce au 
eulogium to his well-known merits.** 

To this request Dr. Capers acceded, performing 
the service required to the gratification of the entire 
community. Some, indeed, of the most admirable 
of his pulpit efforts were those produced under 
the influence of occasions, — and designed to show 
the hand of God, to vindicate his ways, or illustrate 
his providence in important passing events. He 
always made these occasions tributary to the 
spiritual welfare of his congregation, not their 
entertainment merely. He sacrificed neither good 
taste nor devotional feeling in handling subjects 
of this class : under his treatment they suggested 
topics of discourse which gave fresh force to 
admitted truths, and unwonted power to familiar 
ideas. 

The interest felt by Dr. Capers in the welfare 
and improvement of young ministers, deserves 
mention. He was fond of repeating a saying of 
Bishop Asbury, " Our boys are men.*' Affable and 



LETTER TO THE BEY. A. W. WALKER. 349 

BiiiWBfys aeeeaaible to his young friends, bia coua- 
aela and advices wej?e eveF at their aerviee ; and 
hia words of eacourageixLent often came as a balm 
upon the spirit cast down and well-nigh dismayed 
by the conscious want of qualification for the 
solemn responsibilities of the ministerial office. 
The following letter was written in the autumn of 
1834, to the Rev. A. W. Walker, then travelling his 
first circuit. It furnishes a fine illustration of 
warmth of affection, tenderness of spirit, and wis- 
dom of couaseL It may b.e read with great profit 
by every young preacher who wishes to make 
"full proof of his ministry." 

"My bear Albxanbbr :— tI thauk you for youF 
very kind and aflfectionate letter of the 7th ult. 
You might doubt your having any thing to do 
with the duties of the ministry, if you could enter 
upon them without fear and trembling, or make 
any considerable trial of the work of an evangelist 
without much misgiving and an humbling sense of 
your insufficiency. Never forget that our adorable 
Lord and Master was led up into the wilderness to 
be tempted of the devil — certainly not for his own 
sake, as though such a preparation could be neces- 
sary to prove Mm and qualify him for the work of 
preaching the gospel ; but for our sakes^ and for the 
sake of all who should become his ambassadors, 
that it might be example and evidence to them, to 
W5, of what is proper to the experience of those 
wba are put as if in his stead, to plead with sinneiB 



850 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPEBS. 

to be reconciled to God. The conflicts connected 
with your work, form an indispensable part of the 
qualification necessary to its acceptable and eflfect- 
ual performance. The more you are assaulted by 
Satan, the more will your profiting appear, if you 
cleave to Christ in faith and prayer. He overcame 
for uSy that we might overcome by him. 

" It is good for you to cherish a high and sacred 
sense of the dignity and responsibility of your 
calling, and humbling views of your personal fit- 
ness for so great a work. But how is this good for 
you ? Certainly not if you give way to despond 
ency, as though something were required of you 
impossible to be done ; but it is good for you, as it 
is calculated to and shall cause you to trust in the 
living God ; while you give yourself to study and 
prayer, sobriety and watching, that he who alone 
is able to make you a fit instrument in his work, 
may use you, even you, to glorify his name in the 
conversion of many. You cannot doubt but if 
God will use you, you shall be useful. Any thing, 
that shall please him, may work miracles; and 
without his immediate blessing, Paul /lor ApoUos 
were as insignificant as the most unworthy prattlers. 
You find yourself deficient in knowledge? It 
would be melancholy, at your age, if you did not. 
You must feel your deficiency now, and that to 
such a degree as shall make you diligent to im- 
prove your time in study, or you will feel it by and 
by, when it will be too late to make any much 
advantage of it. But, I beseech you, suffer no sense 



LBTTBR TO THE RBV. A. W. WALKER. 851 

of deficiency in knowledge of any kind to influ- 
ence you further than to redeem your time for 
improvement. If you will do this steadily and 
perseveringly, you shall find your account in it ; 
and by uniting study, and preaching, and other 
exercises of your sacred functions, your profiting 
shall appear to all men ; yea, you shall become an 
able minister of the New Testament, and that 
before many years. The Methodist itinerancy 
aflfords a sort of manual-labor school for preachers, 
the very best to qualify them for their work if they 
will use it well. The best way to learn to preach is 
in the practice of preaching. 

" Carry all your discouragements, difliculties, 
troubles, to God, and go to him with them expect- 
ing the help which you ask. You will scarcely 
find it profitable, either to yourself or others, to 
say much, or indeed any thing, about them to. the 
people among whom you labor. To a confidential 
friend, especially if he is himself experienced in 
the trials of the ministry, our ministry^ you may 
open your mind to profit, when occasion serves. 

"May God bless you, my dear brother, and 
keep you faithful and approved in all things. 
" Your very sincere friend and brother, 

"W. Capers. 

"P. S. — ^You are always prudent in your inter- 
sourse with females. You cannot be too much so." 



862 LIFE OV WILLIAM CAPBBS. 



CHAPTER IX. 

RemoTal to Columbia — Accepts the Professorship of Moral and 
Intellectual Philosophy in the South Carolina College — Reasons 
for an early resignation — Denominational education. 

Having finished his year of pastoral service in 
Savannah, Dr. Capers was transferred by the pre- 
siding Bishop to South Carolina, and connected 
with the station of Columbia, the Rev. Malcom 
McPherson being preacher in charge. The object 
of this arrangement was to meet a very general 
wish on the part of his clerical brethren, and of 
the public generally, that he should take a post in 
the'ftl&te^Gollege. The fortunes of the institution 
had waned under the administration of Dr. Cooper, 
and public opinion demanded the inauguration of 
different principles at this seat of learning on which 
the treasure of the State had been lavished without 
stint. It was thought that Dr. Capers might be 
instrumental in bringing about a turn in the tide, 
and restoring the college to the position it had lost 
in the public confidence. Negotiations had been 
opened with him by a committee of the trustees, 
empowered for the purpose of supplying the chair 
of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy and Evidences 
of Christianity, until the regular meeting of the 



PROFESSOR IN S. C. COLLEGE. 368 

Board. So far as mere feeling and inclination 
went, Dr. Capers would have much preferred an 
arrangement contemplated by the Bishop, which 
looked to his taking the superintendence of the 
colored missions. But it was always a principle 
with him to hold private preferences and personal 
feeling subordinate to the judgment of his brethren, 
30 far as public service was concerned. Being 
urged to take the Professorship, he submitted the 
question to the judgment of the Conference. 
Bishop Andrew, whose opinions on the subject of 
Christian education have always been sound and 
far-seeing, took occasion to say, that in view of his 
being appointed, at some short time to come, 
President of the college, as was then anticipated, 
he thought Dr. Capers ought to accept the place 
now offered him; but added, that he doubted if 
the Church ought to give up her claim upon his 
labors for any subordinate appointment. The Con- 
ference then unanimously voted its advice in 
accordance with the views thus expressed ; and he 
accepted forthwith the Professorship. 

Removing his family to the campus, he entered 
upon his scholastic duties. Early in June the 
trustees met; but instead of electing him Presi- 
dent, as had been anticipated, they created a new 
professorship — that of the Evidences of Christiani- 
ty and Sacred Literature — and made it the duty of 
the officer holding that chair to perform Divine ser- 
vice in the college chapel; requesting the othei 
professors to make arrangements for instructing in 

23 



854 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

Moral and Intellectual Philosophy until a President 
should be elected. This appointment Dr. Capers 
felt himself constrained to decline. In his letter 
signifying this intention to the Board of Trustees, 
he reminds them that he had never solicited any 
appointment in the college, but at any time had 
only been willing to take a part in establishing the 
college on such principles as might make it a desir- 
able place for the sons of Christian parents gen- 
erally, or otherwise no part in it on any account 
whatever; that he had perceived indications, both 
as to the Presidency and the organization of the 
college, calculated to discourage the hope that reli- 
gious principles were intended to have a controlling 
influence in the establishment; that the duties 
assigned him in the recent appointment amounted 
to little else than a chaplaincy ; and that the bare 
title of professor could scarcely be expected to 
shield him from the possible obloquy of being con- 
sidered only as "a hiredy paidy and salaried priest.'' 
In view, therefore, of the only moving considera- 
tion for his coming into the college, and under a 
sense of heavy public responsibility, he begged 
respectfully to decline the appointment. 

These were good and sufficient reasons. There 
is no likelihood that the trustees meant any thing 
but what was entirely respectful to him ; and cer- 
tainly, by putting the pulpit of the chapel into his 
hands exclusively, they placed at his command a 
powerful agency for moulding the religious senti- 
ments of the foremost young men of the country. 



BBASONS FOR RESIGNING. 855 

He was told the day after the meeting of the Board, 
by one of its members, in a somewhat facetious 
way, that they had elected him " professor of reli- 
gion !'' He had, it must be confessed, some grounds 
for the apprehension that the appointment of a 
preacher to do the praying and other parts of 
Divine service for the college, was considered a 
sufficient concession to the demands of Christian 
opinion in the State. If he had been satisfied that 
a cordial, sustained, religious cooperation could 
have been reasonably anticipated on the part of his 
colleagues in the facult^^ he might, perhaps, have 
hesitated as to the question of duty. Most likely 
he would have retained his connection with the 
college. For the first time the religious com- 
munion of which he was a minister had now a 
representative in the Board of Instruction in an 
institution which, in proportion to their number 
and means, they were compelled to support. To a 
man of his breadth of view, it must have appeared 
that a monopoly of liberal education in the hands 
of the other leading sects of the State, to the ex- 
clusion of his own, tended, by a silent but irresist- 
ible influence, to consign the excluded denomina- 
tion to ignorance and obscurity. To such a policy, 
whatever may have occasioned it, he must have 
been opposed, on the grounds alike of social equal- 
ity, civil liberty, and religious principle. But, on 
the other hand, the presiding officer of the Annual 
Conference had expressed, without reserve, the 
rpinion that Dr. Capers could not be spared foi 



3«56 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

any lower permanent post than the Presidency; 
and in this pronounced opinion the Conference had 
coincided. Besides, his age and public position 
required, at the very least, that it should be known 
to him who was to be honored with that appoint- 
ment. The choice might fall upon a layman distin- 
guished, indeed, for learning, but an enemy at 
heart to all vital Chria*:ianity. With susceptible 
young men, one sneer from such a man would be 
sufficient to neutralize the effect of a dozen ser- 
mons from the chaplain. And, in fine, to his high 
and scrupulous sense of delicacy, any liability to 
the imputation of mercenary motives in the exer- 
cise of his ministry was abhorrent. The late Pres- 
ident had voluntarily exonerated Methodist min- 
isters from the sweeping charges he had flung from 
his terrible pen against the clergy. And now, was 
a Methodist minister, standing at the head of the 
Methodist denomination in South Carolina, to be 
the first to illustrate, within the very halls which 
had resounded with the echoes of the invective, 
the supposed frailty of the whole class ? 

His resignation lost to the Methodist Church the 
incalculable benefit which his pulpit ministrations 
and professional teachings would have conferred 
upon many of her sons. The Protestant Episco- 
palians, the Presbyterians, and the Baptists have in 
turn been represented in the chapel ministrations 
of the South Carolina College; the Methodist 
Church has not. Nor has there ever been a Method- * 
ist laj^man — although there are numbers in the 



l)BlfOMiNATIOKAL COLLEGES. 867 

State fiilly qualified to serve — allowed to sit in the 
Board of Trustees. And it is a curious coinci- 
dence, that at the very time when, at length, the 
Methodist Church in South Carolina was to have a 
college of her own, the President of the State Col- 
lege, a Presbyterian minister, alike eminent for 
ability and influence, published a letter to the 
Governor of South Carolina against denominational 
colleges. The most admirable feature in the whole 
affair has been the profound resignation and pious 
freedom from resentment which has marked the 
contented spirit of the denomination thus ignored 
and thrust aside. 

But the subject is too serious for levity. "I 
could write down the names,'* said Dr. Olin in 
1844, " of scores of educated men, in every part of 
the land — many of them eminent for the great 
talents and learning with which they adorn the 
highest stations in Church and State — the sons of 
Methodist parents,- and the rightful heritage of 
Methodism, who were lost to the denomination, 
and not a few of them to Christianity, by being ex- 
posed to alien influences at the theatre of their 
literary training. I have been curious in collecting 
this sort of statistics. My observations and in- 
quiries have extended more or less to the larger 
half of the United States, and I give it as the prox- 
imate result of these investigations, that a large 
majority of Methodist young men — not less, I think, 
than three-fourths of all who have been educated in 
colleges not under our own direction — have been lost 



358 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

to our cause. Many of them have gone to other 
denominations, many more have gone to the world. 
All were the legitimate children of the Church. 
They were her hope, and they should have become 
the crown of her rejoicing. But for her own 
grievous neglect to provide for the nurture of the 
sons whom God gave her, many of these had now 
been standard-bearers in her battles, and shining 
lights in her firmament. My heart sickens at such 
contemplations of the past, and I fervently pray 
that God may save us from similar folly and humili- 
ation in years to come.** 

It was the avowed sentiment of Dr. Capers, that 
" he who is not zealous for religion in that form of 
it which he most approves, can illy pretend to be 
zealous for it in some other form.'* He was, con- 
sequently, a decided Methodist, though at the farthest 
possible remove from the bigotry which considers 
its own modification of Christianity to comprehend 
all of it that is trustworthy in Ihe world. Richard 
Watson prefixed to his autograph in Dr. Capers's 
album, at the London Conference, the following 
beautiful dictum : " The two great pillars on which 
the system of Wesleyan Methodism rests, are uni- 
versal love and universal holiness.'* No teacher or 
disciple of the Wesleyan school believed this more 
fully than Dr. Capers. But the catholic feeling 
harmonized fully with the firm and intelligent ad- 
herence to denominational peculiarities. He could 
not, therefore, be insensible to the important 
claims of education under the control of his own 






METHODIST EDUCATION. 859 

communion. We have seen in what point of view 
he regarded the influence of Dr. Fisk, in the North- 
east, in this department of public service. With- 
out considering himself to possess the peculiar apti- 
tudes of taste and scholarly daily habit which make 
a man an accomplished instructor, and with a cleri- 
cal training in the itinerant field for twenty-five 
years, such as made the action, freedom, variety, 
and triumphs of that field the delight and home of 
his heart, he had, nevertheless, upon the compul- 
sion of a sense of duty, yielded all his private 
preferences, and taken a chair in a literary institu- 
tion. And wherefore? Because the convictions 
of his maturest judgment satisfied him that religion 
is the saving salt of education ; and that the cir- 
cumstances of his native State required impera- 
tively that at least he should make an eflfort in that 
direction. The embarrassments he encountered 
have been adverted to. 

The prevalence of such convictions in connec- 
tion with the confessed difficulties and delicacies 
presented by the very constitution of colleges sup- 
ported by the State, has led to the establishment 
of denominational institutions. The Address of 
the Bishops to the General Conference of 1850, in 
language eloquent and forcible, sets forth the views 
of the ablest minds in the Methodist Church on 
this subject. They say : " Our Church has long 
since made its decision in favor of this important 
adjunct (education) to the work of enlightening 
and converting the world. If we would exert our 



e%0 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPEKS. 

proper share of influence in directing the move- 
ments of mind and heart in this stirring age, we 
must connect Methodism with whatever is true and 
valuable, pure and beautiful, in science and letters ; 
and our children must identify the scriptura,l doc- 
trines and the well-tried and time-honored institu- 
tions of the Church of their fathers with the recol- 
lections and associations, not only of the Sabbath- 
school room, but also of the halls of learning, and 
whatever is erudite and polished or eloquent in 
the utterance of professional instruction. Our 
aim is not merely to render Methodism respectable 
by associating it with profound scholarship, but 
mainly to imbue this scholarship with the prin- 
ciples and spirit of a pure and hallowed Chris- 
tianity.*' 

To do this effectually, the faculty of instruction 
must find a representative and utter a voice in the 
chapel pulpit. The President, if he is, as he should 
be, a member of an Annual Conference, is the con- 
necting link between that body and the college ; 
between the pulpit and the students. It is a de- 
plorably shallow philosophy, or common sense 
either, which conceives of the congregation of 
students addressed by an ofliicer, in the character 
of a gospel preacher, as a parcel of youngsters who 
had as well be anywhere else, so far as profit or 
effective influence is concerned, as in a college 
chapel. These young men are, many of them, to 
form your future travelling preachers, your class- 
leaders and trustees, as well as teachers, statesmen, 



l)k. FISK*S PREACItllJa. 861 

agriculturists, doctors, and lawyers. They are at 
the most impressible period of human life. They 
can be made, and are made, to feel the power of 
Christian truth. From no human lips will they 
listen to it with deeper reverence than from the 
lips of an admired, beloved professor, who also dis- 
< ourses to them on literary subjects in the recita- 
tion-room. No year passes without some college 
revival, that can be traced to sources like these. 
Dr. Fisk's biographer, in describing the preaching 
of that gifted man in the chapel of the Wesleyan 
University, says, that after one of these displays of 
powerful Christian oratory, a lady of cultivated 
mind — a stranger in the place — as she came away 
said to another, with a half-stifled voice, "Have 
you any irreligious students in your college?" and 
on being answered in the affirmative, added, "As- 
tonishing!" 



362 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPEBS. 



CHAPTER X. 

Lays the corner-stone of the Cokesbury School — George HoUoway- 
Visits Georgia — Stationed in Charleston — Congregational sing 
ing — Appointed Editor of the Southern Christian Adyocate— 
Great fire in Charleston — Collections for rebuilding the churches 
— Centenary of Methodism. 

In the course of the summer of 1835, Dr. Capers 
went to Abbeville District, and, by invitation of 
the Board of Trustees of the Cokesbury School, 
delivered an address at the laying of the corner- 
stone of the principal building. This institution, 
which is under the control of the South Carolina 
Conference, has had an eminently useful and popu- 
lar career. Among its rectors stand the names of 
instructors of high reputation in their profession. 
The munificence of Mr. George Holloway, a Me- 
thodist gentleman of comfortable property, who 
died, leaving no children, has given an endowment 
to the school, which secures the education and 
board of eight or ten sons of ministers of the 
South Carolina Conference, the preference being 
given to the sons of deceased or superannuated 
preachers. A long line of useful results will hand 
down to posterity his honored name as a public 
benefactor. 



CONGREGATIONAL SINGING. 868 

In the latter part of the"year, Dr. Capers paid a 
visit to Georgia, spending a little time with his 
attached friends, Dr. Branhara, of Eatonton, and 
Mr. Foard, of Milledgeville. At the session of the 
Conference in the winter, he was appointed to 
Charleston, preacher in charge, his colleagues be- 
ing Messrs. J. Sewell, McCoU, and Ganiewell. 
This was one of his most eflScient and successful 
years in the pastoral work. His preaching was 
full of unction ; a gracious influence went along 
with it ; and the membership among the whites in- 
creased full thirty per cent. 

A peculiarity in Dr. Capers's pulpit ministra- 
tions may here be noted. His invariable habit 
was to raise the tunes himself, to the hymns he 
used in Divine worship. He had a fine voice, 
clear, musical, and cultivated. One of Charles 
Wesley's immortal hymns, on his lips, as the leader 
of some fifteen hundred voices — half of them voices 
of the blacks in the crowded galleries — sung to one 
of the old congregational melodies, with no re- 
straints of false refinement, has many a time car- 
ried the assembly to heaven's gate. The farvor 
and fire of the primitive singing were never sacri- 
ficed by him to the conventionalities of choir-sing- 
ing, where a half-dozen voices perform for the 
mute congregation. He never praised God vica- 
riously. He never encouraged his congregation to 
do by proxy this part of their duty. He would 
have enjoyed the smack of the following bit of racy 
Harcasm recently let oflF by a somewhat eccentric 



364 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

Congregational minister at the North, who thue 
describes his feelings while attending Divine ser- 
vice at a Methodist church: "The patient coiigre- 
fijation stood up meekly to be sung to, as men stand 
under rain where there is no shelter. Scarcely a lip 
moved. No one seemed to hear the hymn, or to 
care for the music. How I longed for the good old 
Methodist thunder! One good burst of old- 
fashioned music would have blown this modern 
singing out of the windows, like wadding from a 
gun ! Men may call this an * improvement, and 
genteel ! Gentility has nearly killed our churches, 
and it will kill Methodist churches, if they give 
way to its false and pernicious ambition. We know 
very well what good old-fashioned Methodist music 
was. It had faults enough, doubtless, against 
taste, but it had an inward purpose and a religious ear- 
nestness which enabled it to carry all its faults, and 
to triumph in spite of them ! It wa^ worship. Yes- 
terday's music was tolerable singing, but very poor 
worship. We are sorry that just as our churches 
are beginning to imitate the former example of 
Methodist churches, and to introduce melodies that 
the people love, and to encourage universal sing- 
ing in the congregation, our Methodist brethren 
should pick up our cast-off formalism in church 
music. It will be worse with them. It will mark 
a greater length of decline.'' 

In May, 1836, Dr. Capers attended the session of 
the General Conference, held at Cincinnati. The 
principal interest which attaches to this session is 



SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE. 366 

found in the action of the delegates from the 
various Annual Conferences on the subject of 
abolitionism. The position of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church on that question was defined in the 
following resolution, adopted by a vote of one 
hundred and twenty in favor, and fourteen against: 

'^Hesalved^ That they (the delegates of the An- 
nual Conferences) are decidedly opposed to modern 
abolitionism, and wholly disclaim any right, wish, 
or intention to interfere in the civil and political 
relation between master and slave, as it exists in 
the slaveholding States of this Union/' 

To modern researches, this is doubtless a pro- 
foundly mythical passage in the history of a Church 
which is now with cool effrontery pronounced at 
the North to have been always abolitionist to the 
backbone. 

Resolutions were also passed, authorizing the 
publication of a weekly religious journal at Charles- 
ton, called the Southern Christian Advocate, of 
which Dr. Capers was elected editor. The lapse 
of ten years had shown that a great central organ 
at New York, however ably conducted, could not 
supersede the home demand for presses in distant 
but influential portions of the Connection. Besides, 
a very general feeling had begun to pervade the 
Southern States, hostile to the circulation of 
Northern newspapers, religious as well as secular. 
Many of these were preaching up a crusade against 
the domestic institutions of the South ; and self- 
defence as well as self-respect demanded that 



366 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

there should be au adequate supply of Southern 
journals. 

The first number of the Southern Christian 
Advocate was published June 21st, 1837. Dr. 
Capers found himself a second time afloat on the 
troubled waters of editorial life. Although he con- 
tinued to preach every Sunday, yet he was relieved of 
the cares of the pastoral work. He had no printing- 
oflice : the paper was printed by a publishing house, 
by the job; and the editor acted as his own clerk 
in keeping the accounts. There was a good deal 
of petty drudgery involved, that wasted time and 
tried the temper. Supplies of cash would some- 
times run short at the close of the week. Mistakes 
would occasionally get into the mail-books. His 
constitutional sensitiveness would be touched at 
this and the other poitits ; and then he would write 
with too sharp a quill. In a word, journalism did 
not suit the genius of the man. A sense of duty 
carried him along ; but he could hardly bring him- 
self up to the full appreciation of the importance 
and wide-reaching influence of the vocation. He 
lacked enthusiasm and inspiration. He did not 
wainn to a work which was not to him a labor of 
love. He fought up bravely, however, against all 
discouragements until the coming on of the ensu- 
ing General Conference, and then gave up journal- 
ism for ever. He said that editorship had been 
"a furnace of insufferable fires** to him. "How 
could I be willing to pass what of life remains to 
me^ ia the perpetual irritations of the last tlpee 



FIBE IN CHARLESTON. 367 

j'ears ? I would rather wander through the earth 
on foot, preaching Christ, than be the editor of a 
religious newspaper.'* The Southern Christian 
Advocate was, nevertheless, a very observable im- 
provement on the Wesleyan Journal. His edito- 
rials were much more elaborate, his selections 
more varied and adapted to the popular taste. He 
stood up firmly for the rights of his section in the 
ecclesiastical connection. He was earnest and 
high-minded in his advocacy of all the great 
measures subsidiary to the spread of Christian 
influence — educational, missionary, and literary. 
For complete success, however, his editorial writ- 
ing lacked dramatic and pictorial power, was a 
trifle too polemical, and often showed that the pen 
moved ^Hnviid Minerva.** 

Late in April, 1838, a disastrous fire took place 
in Charleston. It laid in ruins the richest and 
most populous part of the city, destroying three 
millions of property. The glare of the conflagra- 
tion was seen eighty miles at sea, and the explo- 
sions in blowing up houses were heard eighteen 
miles oflT. Four houses of worship and one lecture- 
room were destroyed. Among these was Trinity 
Church, a wooden building, the largest of the 
Methodist churches in the city. The old church 
in Cumberland street had been removed a short 
time previously, and a new brick church was in 
process of erection. This was destroyed also, with 
the workshop of the contractor, and a large amount 
of materials. On the Suaday after the fire, the 



868 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

Methodists held service in the market, morning 
and afternoon, Dr. Capers officiating. Crowds of 
people were present, and the worship was as solemn 
and undisturbed as though it had been held in a 
church. The congregation of St. Philip's Church 
(Protestant Episcopalian) immediately and very 
kindly tendered the use of a large wooden build- 
ing, called the Tabernacle, to the destitute Method- 
ist congregations ; and this was gratefully accepted 
and used until the new churches were erected. On 
the 30th of April, a meeting of the members of thie 
Methodist Episcopal Church was held, the Rev. 
Bond English, preacher in charge, in the chair; 
at which it was resolved that a circular should be 
sent to the ministers of the South Carolina and 
Georgia Conferences, asking assistance in rebuild- 
ing Trinity and Cumberland Churches; and that 
provision should be made for employing an editor, 
pro tern., for the Southern Christian Advocate, in 
order that Dr. Capers might travel through the 
State soliciting aid for the same purpose. 

The Doctor cheerfully accepted this mission of 
mercy. Mr. English edited the paper, and he set 
out on a tour through the middle and upper 
districts of South Carolina, commencing in May, 
and preaching nearly every day, sometimes twice a 
day, until the close of July. This laborious tour 
he performed on horseback, during one of the 
hottest summers that had been known for many 
years. The result of his earnest and eloquent 
appeals was, in subscriptions and cash, the noble 



0ENTE19ART OF METHODISM. 369 

aum of thirteieii thousand dollars and a little up- 
wards. He had the pleasure of dedicating Trinity 
Church when it was completed. 

The year 1839 was the memorable Methodistic year, 
in which Methodism completed its first centennial 
period. This centenary was celebrated throughout 
the world as a jubilee. It was marked as an occa- 
sion not only of deep religious joy, but of unpre- 
cedented liberality on the part of the members and 
friends of the Church. The originating impulse 
was given in England, where a million of dollars 
was contributed in free-will offerings of grateful 
love, for the benefits received from God, through 
Methodist instrumentalities; the key-note having 
been struck by the first contiibution, which was of 
a thousand guineas by a widow lady. Dr. Capers 
threw himself into this movement with character- 
istic energy. Appeal followed appeal in the 
columns of the Advocate ; and the fervid editorials 
stirred up answering fire in every direction. The 
following paragraph is a specimen : 

"Ifever was there such a time for exertion in 
the cause of charity as the present, or a time when 
the efforts of the sons of benevolence were likely 
to produce so rich a result. The Church sum- 
mons all her children to her assistance in a great 
effort to place her institutions, one and all, -on a 
basis answerable to their importance, and that 
shall give them the measure of efficiency they 
ought to possess, alike for her advantage and the 

good of mankind. The appeal is irresistible. 
24 



370 • LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

None can hold back from the performance of hie 
duty, or advance to its performance with a divided 
heart. 'The divisions of Reuben' cannot arise, nor 
Gilead abide bevond Jordan, nor Dan remain in 
his ships, nor Asher continue on the sea-shore ; but 
as Zebulun and Naphtali, we will all go up to the 
help of the Lord against the mighty. Indeed, we 
* have already gone up, and the work is begun in 
the face of our foes. To halt or retreat we cannot. 
The shout of triumph is heard in our van, and soon 
the remotest rear shall resound with the voice of 
thanksgiving. But let us be doing. Meetings in 
every town, meetings in every populous country- 
place, meetings in every large society : let there 
be meetings ; and at once ; let there be meetings.'* 

On the 25th October, the centenary was cele- 
brated with religious services throughout the 
country. The occasion was everywhere realized 
as a time of special spiritual refreshment. The 
contributions in the Georgia and South Carolina 
Conferences largely exceeded one hundred thou- 
sand dollars. Many who hailed that day with pious 
exultation, have passed to their everlasting homes 
above. None of those who took part in those 
blessed solemnities shall witness the dawn of the 
second centenary day. But they have bequeathed 
to the world results which shall move on to the 
end of time. 



DR. LOVIOK PIEROB. 871 



CHAPTER XI. 

General Conference of 1840 — Conversion of his son William — ^Ap- 
pointed Missionary Secretary for the South — Preaches the funeral 
sermon of Mrs. Andrew. 

The General Conference of 1840 was held at 
Baltimore. The week before the delegates left 
Charleston, there was a camp-meeting held in the 
vicinity of the city. The venerable Dr. Lovick 
Pierce was one of the preachers from a distance 
who were present. His text on Sunday was: " Be- 
cause iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall 
wax cold; but he that endureth to the end, the 
same shall be saved.*' This subject was handled 
with the skill, force, and sweep of a master of 
pulpit oratory. The causes which led to the 
abounding of iniquity were traced with a power 
of delineation absolutely terrific at times ; and 
particularly so when the preacher came to consider 
the blight and mildew spread over society by the 
example and influence of public men who had no 
fear of God, no love of virtue. Then came, in 
striking contrast, a picture of the militant virtue 
which treads down soft eflfeminacy, resists to the 



372 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

last extremity every debasing appetite, and main- 
tains to the end its purity, loveliness, and dignity 
with manly valor ; and the true and steadfast love 
which is the soul of all piety — full of loyalty to 
Christ — finding in God's favor its highest heaven 
of enjoyment. The first part of the sermon cut 
with an edge of steel into the hoary crest of social 
iniquity, and with intrepid spirit and full strength 
clove down the towering front of hydra-headed 
vice ; the latter part harnessed the coursers of the 
sun, and drove the victor agonistes, in a chariot of 
fire, to the gate of heaven. Robert Newton preached 
the next Sunday in the Light Street Church of 
Baltimore, and was heard by several who had 
listened to Dr. Pierce at the camp-meeting. The 
shade of the great Wesleyan orator will pardon the 
writer for saying, that the comparison of the two 
eflForts was wholly in favor of the camp-meeting 
sermon. 

Among those who were brought under deep reli- 
gious concern at the meeting just referred to, was 
the second son of Dr. Capers, who shortly after- 
wards found '' the pearl of great price'* in finding 
Christ as his personal, all-sufficient Saviour. He 
subsequently entered the travelling ministry in the 
South Carolina Conference. Dr. Capers, who was 
then in Baltimore attending the General Confer- 
ence, soon received the intelligence of his son's 
conversion. This threw a gleam of unutterable 
joy over his spirit. He wrote immediately to Wil- 
liam the following deeply interesting letter : 



CONVERSION OF HIS SON WILLIAM. 878 

" My very dear Son : — When I wrote to you a 
few days ago, my most anxious hope had not antici- 
pated so much — by any means so much — in so 
short a time, as I have had the delightful, nay, rap- 
turous pleasure of learning from Susan's letter bj* 
brother Sewell this day. My dear boy, hoUi fast. 
As sure as you live, and there is a sonl in your 
body, let fools say what they will, j'ou will be made 
for both worlds if you hold fast the mercy you 
have received, and acknowledge always the Lord 
Jesus Christ. Thousands of silver and gold were 
as nothing to this. I thank God, I bless his holy 
name with joy unspeakable, that he gave you 
courage to acknowledge him on the Tuesday night 
at the altar in Trinity Church, on Thursday night, 
the 30th April, at the love-feast, where you joined 
the Church. And you found on Saturday night 
the good of it, when you found peace in believing. 
Blessed be God ! 

" You must never give back ; and that you may 
not, you must watch against evil and be constant 
to prayer. Expect to be tempted much, and in 
every way. The devil will seek, nay, seeks^ to 
destroy you by every plausible suggestion, and 
every form of attack. I told you before that if 
you felt at any time that you had lost ground, or 
done wrong, or in any way grieved the Holy Spirit, 
you should by no means yield to discouragement, 
as though you could not recover; or not permanent- 
ly persevere, but renew and redouble your suppli- 
cations for pardon and peace. This is the way still, 



874 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

and will always be the way for you to hold on and 
not fail. But now, you need to be advised against 
that stratagem of your enemy by which he almost 
universally assails .young converts, and frequently 
to their cost, by persuading them that they have 
been mistaken, and have not experienced a genuine 
work of grace. I suftered much and long from 
this quarter myself. But without waiting to reason 
about the matter, carry it straight to the throne of 
grace, and ask light from above. *Ask, and you 
shall receive.* But if you even fall into darkness 
of mind, and even if you are sure that this has 
been induced by something you have done wrong, 
still, as I have said, go to your knees. Go and 
make haste to confess and humble yourself at the 
foot of the cross, and you shall soon have light and 
life again. I am glad that you speak to brother 
Walker freely. Do so by all means. Do not be 
backward to tell him all that troubles you, and may 
God most graciously bless you. Read the Scrip- 
tures, and pray in secret. Guard against whatever 
might betray you into wrong tempers, and be con- 
stant to your class. I have much joy of you, my 
son, and pray unceasingly that God may most 
graciously bless you with his protection, guidance, 
and grace, by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ 
our Lord. 

"Tour rejoicing father, W. Capers. 

"May 9, 1840." 

William was then about fifteen years of age : his 



CONCERN FOR HIS SON. 375 

very youth, with the nativo vivacity of his temper, 
gave an increased depth of tenderness and solici- 
tude to his father's feelings on the occasion of his 
making a religious profession. Two days after the 
foregoing letter was written, Mrs. Capers received 
one, from which the following extract will show 
how the father's heart throbbed on with tlu 
quickened pulse of joy: 

" What can I write to you about so properly as 
about William ? And yet I do not suppose I need 
say any thing to impress you with any feeling ad- 
ditional to what you have on his account. O, ^'ow 
much tenderness, faithfulness, and continual counsel 
he must reasonably require to keep him steadily on 
as he has begun ! Nor need I say a word to im- 
press you, or his brother. or sisters, with any addi 
tional feeling to what you have of the infinite im- 
portance to him, for both worlds, of his maintaining 
his religious course. If William holds on, and you 
and I live to see him a man, we shall rejoice for the 
day he was born. A man he will be, to bless us 
and the Church of God. O no ; I write not to ad- 
vise you to watch over him with continual and 
faithful tenderness, advising him, joining with him 
in religious conversation and devotion, and the like ; 
for I know you cannot need it — you cannot fail of 
any thing in your power to do for him ; but I write 
because my mind and heart are as yours are, and I 
can scarcely think of any thing but William. 
Blessed be God for this great mercy, and may his 
divine goodness keep the lad for evermore.'* 



376 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

A CQuple of weeks later he says : " I am exceed'- 
ing full of comfort for you all, so that often as 
my thoughts go home, (and that is as often as they 
are not held back on business,) they salute you all 
with an emotion which nobody else could feel. 
Sometimes I feel as if my warfare was accom- 
plished — or as if I had reached a summit on my 
pilgrim-way of trouble and temptation, and saw 
the clouds and darkness which had persecuted my 
soul rolled back afar, and a path of sunshine open- 
ing before me. William's conversion alone has given 
me, as it were, a new heavens and earth. Take 
care of him ; make allowances ; be faithful to him 
every day and hour, but be very tender. Blessed 
be the Lord God, whose mercy is everlasting." 

At this General Conference, Dr. Capers was ap- 
pointed chairman of a committee to prepare a letter 
to the British Conference. In the address, which 
was written by him, the position of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in reference to slavery — a topic 
which had been referred to in the Letter of the 
British Conference — was defined in the following 
clear and emphatic terms : 

" Of these United States, (to the government and 
laws of which, * according to the division of power 
made to them by the Constitution of the Union, 
and the Constitutions of the several States,' we owe 
and delight to render a sincere and patriotic 
loyalty,) there are several which do not allow of 
slavery. There are others in which it is allowed, 
and there are slaves ; but the tendency of the laws, 



1 



SLAVERY AND ABOLITION. 877 

and the minds of the majority of the people, are in 
favor of emancipation. But there are others in 
which slavery exists so universally, and is so closely 
interwoven with their civil institutions, that both 
do the laws disallow of emancipation, and the great 
body of the people (the source of laws with us) 
hold it to be treasonable to set forth any thing, by 
word or deed, tending that way. Each one of all 
these States is independent ofthe rest and sovereign, 
with respect to its internal government, (as much 
so as if there existed among them no confederation 
for ends of common interest,) and therefore it is 
impossible to frame a rule on slavery proper for our 
people in all the States alike. But our Church is 
extended through all the States, and it would be 
wrong and unscriptural to enact a rule of discipline 
in opposition to the Constitution and laws of the 
State on this subjexjt; so also would it not be equi- 
table or scriptural to confound the positions of our 
ministers and people, so difterent are they in dif- 
ferent States, with respect to the moral question 
which slavery involves.'* 

When the Address was presented to the Qeneral 
Conference for adoption, a division was called for 
by the leader of the abolitionist party; and on 
counting the votes for the adoption of the portion 
relating to slavery, one hundred and fourteen mem- 
bers voted for it, and eighteen in the negative. 
This, then, was the position of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church in 1840, as expounded by her highest 
assembly. 



878 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

At this General Conference the territory of the 
Church was divided into three missionary depart- 
ments, and Dr. Capers was appointed secretary for 
the Southern division. The general interests of 
the missionary work within this district were in- 
trusted to his oversight; and in the performance 
of his official duties, it was necessary that he shoukl 
travel at large, preach on the subject, and hold mis- 
sionary meetings, attending, besides, as many ses- 
sions of the Annual Conferences as possible. This 
was a large field of labor, presenting some attract- 
ive features, but not a few difficulties and discour- 
agements. It entailed, beyond doubt, protracted 
absences from home, and fatiguing routes of travel. 
For four years this work occupied the time and 
attention of Dr. Capers. He removed his family 
from Charleston to Oxford, Georgia, and attended, 
during the autumn and winter, several Conferences. 
In the spring of the year 1841 he made an exten- 
sive Western tour, leaving Oxford about the first 
of April, and visiting Columbus, Georgia, Mont- 
gomery, Tuskaloosa, Columbus, Mississippi, Jack- 
son, Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Wash- 
ington, and Natchez. This journey was performed 
with horse and sulky. He met all his appointments, 
and enjoyed fine health. 

In a letter from Natchez there is found the fol- 
lowing beautiful passage : '* 0, I have borne the 
cross, and the cross sustains me. I have gone back 
to the time of my youth, when I had a little strength, 
and have felt my strength renewed. God has been 



LABORS AS MISSIONARY SECRETARY. 379 

with me of a truth, in all ray way ; and more and 
more has he been with me. Blessed be his name. 
I wish ardently for but one thing — his blessing 
upon you all, and his guiding hand, even as he has 
guided me, as long as you live, and for ever. Will 
he not be your God from henceforth, and even for 
evermore ? Surely he will. Will not his blessing, 
too, prove your salvation for ever ? Trust in him. 
Let all my house fear God and serve him, and it 
shall be well with them, for he hath promised it. 
The blessing of God Almighty, given in Christ 
Jesus, be with you.*' 

At Natchez he embarked horse and sulky on a 
Mississippi steamer, and reached Memphis on the 
2l8t May. The last evening he spent on the steam- 
boat, a petition froni the ladies was handed him by 
Judge Covington, requesting a sermon. With this 
request he complied, of course, preaching on a text 
which led him to show that religion is founded in 
knowledge, and not in ignorance or superstition ; 
and to press the necessity of applying to the acquire- 
ment of that knowledge in the only w^ay in which it 
can be obtained. 

From Memphis he visited his brother, the Rev. 
B. H. Capers, in Haywood county, spending a week 
with him, but preaching during the time, at Sum- 
merville and Brownsville. Filling an appointment 
at Jackson, Tennessee, on the last Sunday of May, 
he spent the following Sunday at Nashville ; and 
preaching in the prominent towns on his return 
route, he reached home the last of June. In the 



880 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

autumn he made another three months' tour, through 
the Carolinas and Virginia, attending the session 
of the Virginia Conference at Portsmouth. This 
route carried him through the scenes of his youth. 
One of his appointments was at Lodebar, Sumter 
District, South Carolina. He says: "I preached 
to a respectably large congregation, in which there 
were but two individuals who belonged to the 
neighborhood, even so late as 1821. Not one 
grown person of those days is left. I visited the 
hallowed spot where my father, and wife, and first 
son, and brother-in-law lie buried — visited it alone, 
and felt the humbling lesson of the grave. Ah, 
me ! why am I not more holy ? I can never live 
in that neighborhood ; and yet I feel an inde- 
scribable interest in it. It seems to be curtained 
with grave-clothes ; every thing serving to remind 
me of the dead.'* 

In January, 1842, Dr. Capers attended the ses- 
sion of the South Carolina Conference at Char- 
lotte. He was much encouraged by the decided 
opinion expressed by Bishop Waugh that his labors 
as Missionary Secretary were eminently useful, and 
ought by no means to be discontinued. He says : 
"I hope it may be actually so. Truly, it is not 
pleasant to the flesh to be so continually going, 
and to so great distances from home ; nor is it in 
any way desirable to be placed in an almost bound- 
less field, where at every point work is wanted to 
be done, and one can do so little for the whole. 
But the great consideration is to be useful ; and if 



FUNERAL SERMON OF MRS. ANDREW. 881 

in this wide field I can be more useful than in an- 
other, well; let me still give myself and serve on." 
In April he visited the missions to the blacks in 
South Carolina, and then went to New York, 
where he attended the anniversary of the Mission- 
ary Society. "The brethren here,*' he says, 
"receive me with great kindness, and no ono 
with more than brother Lane. Dear, good man, 
I reckon I shall never meet him while I live, with- 
out remembering the mattress on the floor, on 
which his honored bones were put wearily to rest 
in our house, once, in Charleston.'* 

In June, by invitation of Bishop Andrew, Dr. 
Capers preached the funeral sermon of the lamented 
Mrs. Andrew — a lady of peculiar excellences of 
mind and heart, the closing scene of whose life is 
thus described by Dr. Longstreet: "For many 
months before her death she looked forward to 
her approaching dissolution with calmness and 
composure; but entertaining no higher hopes, it 
is believed, than to die in peace and without fear. 
But about a week before she was taken from earth, 
it pleased God to give her such a bright manifesta- 
tion of his presence, and of her acceptance, that 
she broke forth into shouts of triumph. Thence- 
forth her little strength was spent in glorifying 
God, calling on her friends to rejoice with her, 
encouraging Christians, counselling sinners, and 
consoling her family. For the remaining week of 
her life, no cloud intervened between her and 
heaven. In response to a brother's question, 



382 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

when she could no longer speak, she signified by 
repeated motions of the head that God was still 
near to her, and that her way was clear. She em- 
braced religion at the age of thirteen, cherished it 
for about thirty-three years, and died in its triumphs, 
in her forty-sixth year." 



SOUTH-WESTERN TOUB. 883 



CHAPTER XII. 

Removes from Oxford to Charleston — Makes the tour of the South- 

"i 

western Conferences — Visits his aunt in Kentucky — Incidents of 
travel — Maum Rachel. 

In the latter part of 1842, Dr. Capers removed 
his family from Oxford to Charleston. lu the 
spring of the following year, after having attended 
the sessions of several Conferences during the 
winter, he made a tour of the missionary stations 
in the low country. Frequent articles appeared 
from his pen in the Southern Christian Advocate 
on the subject of missions, during the summer. 
In July, his daughter, Susan Bethia, was married 
to Professor Stone, of Emory College. About the 
middle of September, he set out on a long Western 
tour, and was absent from home nearly five months. 
He attended the sessions of the South-western 
Conferences, beginning with the Tennessee Con- 
ference, held at Gallatin. 

Having time between the session of the Tennessee 
and Memphis Conferences to make a brief visit to a 
venerable relative whom he had never seen, he left 
Nashville on the night of the 27th October. There 
had been snow in the course of the day. " So, 
taking the hint,*' he says, "I bought a Mackinaw 
blanket to wrap up in for the night, in the stage. 



884 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

The stage, however, proved to be a nondescript 
vehicle, more like a wagon than a coach, made 
for a road which defied all springs, and tested the 
utmost strength of any thing that could be made 
of wood and iron ; and such was the violence of 
the jolting over rocks imbedded in mud, that 
neither blanket nor cloak could I keep wrapped 
about me, but had to use arms, and hands, and feet 
to sustain myself against the bounding, thumping 
stage, that it should not bruise me. The driver 
was young and reckless — one of the sort to see 
better and drive faster in the dark than in day- 
light; so about two o'clock in the night, he ran 
out of the road and upset us in, fortunately, one of 
the few spots where it was all mud and no rocks. 
No harm happened by the upset, except that being 
in the mud was an increase of my exposure, in a 
night when (so soon after summer) the ground was 
hard with frost and the water covered with ice. I 
took cold, of course.** 

He found Mrs. Allen at Russellville. She was 
the only surviving sister of his mother : a venerable 
lady, seventy-five years of age, who had not seen a 
single member of her family after leaving South 
Carolina, fifty years previously. She had been, 
from the formation of the first Methodist Society 
in the parishes of her native State, true and steady 
in her Christian profession ; and was, perhaps, the 
only individual at that time alive of the generation 
who grew up with her in the section of country 
where she was born. "I mean,*' said the Doctor, 



LOVE TO HIS MOTHER. 385 

*^ for my dear mother's sake, to go and sit down 
with her, and let her talk it all over her own way, 
for a day at least.** He enjoyed the visit very 
much. It carried him back to the days of child- 
hood, and stirred the memory of life's young 
dreams. His aunt's face recalled the early vision 
of a mother's smiles. "I find myself," he said 
after the interview, "more than ever curious to 
know my mother. Surely when I get to heaven, 
(for I do expect to get there,) it will be the very 
first recognition I shall seek to make : if my dear 
Anna should not rather be first among created 
ones. I never knew my mother since my infant 
smiles to her caresses. She died as soon as I 
could call her name. But I cannot tell how much 
I love my mother; and I feel that it is more and 
more as I grow older. Shall I not know that she 
is my mother, in the world above ? I think I shall. 
And if so, shall I introduce to her those whom God 
has given me, those who have gone before me ; or 
will she know me, an old man, for the infant she left, 
and bring my wife and children to meet me ? There 
is a veil upon it, not to be lifted before the time. 
But 0, let us make haste, sure haste to that time. 
Our friends will not be in the way of our supreme 
and infinite adoration of the Lord our Redeemer, 
our God and Saviour, in that world. They need 
not be in this world, though we know them and 
love them with the utmost ardor. May God keep 
us by his grace, and then we shall be sure to find 

that whatever may be the constitution of our 
25 



386 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

natare in the life to come, it shall be what is infi- 
nitely happiest for us, and most to the glory of 
God." 

O this mysterious, awful shadow, this veil which 
hides the great eternal hereafter; how we long to 
get one glimpse beyond it! How imagination, 
conjecture, inquiry, seek to pierce the dark frontier 
which divides the stupendous realities of the future 
state from our present earthly condition ! And 
these human affections of ours, how ardently they 
desire to know that departed friends, whose 
memories we cherish so fondly, do actually feel for 
us a kind and heightened interest even amidst the 
amazing scenes of the world of spirits ! There is 
good ground for the confident assurance that they 
do. "I sometimes wonder,'* said a profound 
thinker, John Foster, "that religious teachers 
advert so little in any distinct terms to the state 
immediately after death, which inspiration has so 
expressly asserted to be a state of consciousness, 
and of happiness to faithful souls." 

Some of the incidents of travel on his return 
route. Dr. Capers thus describes: "I left Colum- 
bus, Mississippi, on New Year's day, encouraged, by 
the few days of fair weather of the previous week, 
to hope that I might reach Montgomery, by the 
way of Greensboro and Selma, by stage. But the 
rain was again upon us like a flood, and after 
travelling only twenty-three miles, the driver firmly 
told me I could go no farther. The river, of course, 
was my alternative; and to the river I went in 



WESTERN HOSPITALITY, 887 

search of a boat. The evening of the 8d found me 
on the western shore of the Tombigbee, five miles 
from its junction with the Alabama, where I was 
in hope of a passage in the boat of that evening up 
the Alabama. I had been told of clever accommo- 
dations at my stopping-place ; and, what I found I 
will now relate as a specimen of Western hospi- 
tality. There was a comfortable dwelling, kitchen, 
etc. ; but the proprietors had abandoned the place 
on account of its sickliness, and were living two 
or three miles back in the pine woods. An old 
negro man, left in charge of the buildings, was the 
only resident. His kitchen fire was warm ; he 
talked of cooking something for my 'reberence,* 
which I declined ; and I was returning his proffered 
kindness with a word about his soul, when a fine- 
looking man entered. He was the proprietor, who 
had been all day engaged in loading a boat some- 
where in the neighborhood, and going home a little 
after night, was induced to stop by the sight of a 
traveller's trunk in a corner of his piazza. We 
were mutually unknown, and I only wanted a fire 
on the bank of the river, where I could await the 
arrival of the steamer. But no such thing. A fire 
must be made in the house, and he wovM make it. 
* But, sir, you have been with your boat all day 
long, without any thing to eat ; you had better go 
home.' * That is nothing, compared to your being 
here without any supper. 1*11 make you a fire, 
and then I will go.' So the fire was made, and we 
chatted freely, interrupted, however, with frequent 



888 Llfl OV WILLIAM OAPBBS. 

exprsMions of regrets by mine boat tbat I Aonl4 
find notbing to eat, and as freqnent remonstrances 
on my part against bis remaining so late from borne, 
wben be must be bungry, and Mrs. B. uneasy 
about bim. It took me an bour to prevail on bim 
to go. And my next care was to extinguisb tbe 
fire, and remove my quarters to tbe bank of tbe 
river. Here I was, seated on my trunk over a 
blazing fire, at nine o'clock P. M., wben lo, my 
bost was again upon me, and witb bim a lovely 
young woman, bis wife. His supper bad long been 
waiting for bim, and as I could not be induced to 
go and sbare it witb bim, tbe good lady had 
resolved to bring a cup of coflfee to tbe old preacher 
where be was. It was a moonlight night, though 
cloudy. Only a pleasant ride on horseback, she 
insisted. And again I was removed to tbe house. 
And now that troublesome trunk. It must not be 
left at the river, but taken to the house, and Mr, B. 
must carry it. I protested, and took bold on a strap ; 
but he would have it to himself^ fairly on bis 
shoulder, without any partnership in tbe load. 
There we were then, again in the bouse, with the 
addition of an elegant, woman to our company ; 
(for such was Mrs. B., if I know what makes an 
elegant woman ;) and we talked away as if each 
meant to find out every thing that concerned th^ 
other, right away. Presently the puffing noise of a 
steamer was heard, and seizing a torch, I ran for 
tbe river ; Mrs. B. running step for step witb m^ 
aod ^r. B. (fine fellow) bearing .the trunk witbi^nt 



WESTERN HOSPITALITY. 

my knowledge of his doing so. The boat was 
racing, and would not stop to take me. And now 
it was eleven o'clock at night. Mrs. B. had left a 
sick child at home, and in all conscience I thought 
she must have had enough of the old parson. 
"Would she not go home? Did she mean to sit 
there all night? * Madam,* said I, *you say this is 
not your house because you cannot accommodate 
me in it: suppose then you allow me to take 
possession. Have you any objection, Mr. B. V 
'No, no,' she exclaimed, anticipating him, *he has 
no objection. It is your house, and we are only 
your visitors.' 'Very well,* I replied: 'then let 
me tell you, madam, that it is past eleven o'clock; 
you are three miles from home ; you have a sick 
child ; and it is time for you to make your election 
between going home and going to bed, if you can 
find bed and bedclothes about my house.' At 
about midnight they went home ; and some hours 
after I got aboard a steamboat, never more deeply 
impressed with Western hospitality. Mr. B. was 
a graduate of the University of Alabama, and Mrs. 
B. had been educated at Georgetown, D. C. 
. " Did you ever get aboard one of their double- 
engine steamboats, by a yawl, on a dark night? 
If not, be reminded to take care when you do. 
The moon was down before the Southerner an- 
swered my waving torchlight, and sent her yawl 
to fetch me aboard. I had before noticed the quick- 
ness of their movements on like occasions on those 
waters, and as the men were pulling for the boat^ 



890 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPBRB. 

I begged them to take care of me in getting aboard, 
and not be too quick to sing out ' ready ;* ' for I am 
no longer active, my good fellows/ said I, * and will 
need more time than a younger man might.* 
* You shall hav^ your time, sir,* answered one of 
them, 'and I will see you all safe.* And he was 
as good as his word, or that had been my last 
adventure. 

"There are two engines employed to propel those 
boats, and they are placed on the main deck, next 
to the wheels. The boats have two stories or 
decks, like long, two-storied, flat-roofed houses, 
built on their decks, as wide as their hulls. The 
lower of these stories is used for carrying freight, 
and in the present case the freight was cotton ; 
while the upper story forms the habitable part of 
the boat. The freight, cotton bales, was separated 
from the engines by an open framework, and filled 
the entire space between them, and to the ceiling, 
except sixteen or eighteen inches along one side, 
next to the enclosure of the starboard engine. I 
had never observed where the engines were placed 
on board these boats, or how the boatmen passed 
from place to place on that lower deck ; but, taking 
it for granted all was plain and easy, having gained 
the deck from the yawl at the stern of the boat, I 
was making my way before the man with my trunk 
to the steps forward of the wheelhouse, when the 
engineer let off steam, and filled the whole place with 
a mist so thick that I could not see. It was just 
at the moment the man at the yawl cried out, *All 



RACHEL WELLS. 891 

ready,' and precisely as I had reached the point of 
the squeezing passage between the cotton bales and 
the engine. The passage I could not see ; but the 
engine being yet at rest, with the huge beam they 
call the pitman lying horizontally just at my feet, 
r took that for the way, and was actually stepping 
on it, when the man- behind seized and drew me 
back. The pilot's bell had already jingled, and the 
engineer's answered to it, so that a few seconds 
more showed me the pitman I was going to walk 
on, lifted to the ceiling as a great arm turning the 
wheels of the boat. How nigh had been death, and 
how unsuspected!" 

While Dr. Capers was Missionary Secretary, the 
following incident occurred in Charleston, which 
deeply affected him : There was living in Anson 
street a saintly old colored woman, named Rachel 
Wells. She had been a member of the Methodist 
Church for many years, and been a pattern of piety 
in humble life. Iler patience and faith, her good 
works and consistent example, had been long 
known to Dr. Capers, who held her in high regard. 
Some years previously, while in charge of the 
Charleston Station, he had occasion to visit Aunt 
Rachel, and gave the following account of the in- 
terview : '• She had fallen down the step-ladder 
which served for stairs, and struck an eye with so 
much force as almost to put it out, inflicting ex- 
cruciating pain, and endangering her life b}^ in- 
flammation. It was at a time when our worthiest 
and ablest ministers happened to be in the city, 



892 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

waiting for a passage by ship to New York, on 
their way to a General Conference, and we had ser- 
vice in Trinity Church every evening, greatly to 
our refreshment. ' Sorry to see you in so sad a case, 
Maum Rachel,* said I, as I approached her little cham- 
ber, from which almost every ray of light had been 
excluded on account of the painfulness of her eye. 
' Sorry I am, very sorry for you ; and the more, that 
this bad accident should have happened just now, 
when we are having such good meetings every night 
in Trinity. You would be so happy if you could 
be with us there.' 

"'I hear of de meetin, sir,' she answered, 'and 
t'ank God for *em for you sake ; but as for me, I 
hab no need o' dem. I couldn't do widout Trinity 
Church before, and while I well I neber oft' my 
seat da, day or night ; but since dis ting come 'pon 
me you call bad accident, I hab no need of Trinity 
Church any more ; t'ank God, my blessed Jesus 
hab shorter way to me now dan by Trinity Church. 
All he do for me wid de meetin befo-time, he do 
for nae now widout de meetin ; and more too, bless 
de Lord.' " 

On the occasion before referred to. Dr. Capers 
went to sec Aunt Rachel, Part of the conversation 
was in the following words : "Alluding to her 
seeming solitude, she said : ' Time was when I had 
some 'bout me, but God please to tek dem from 
me. But I quite resign. When de las one gone, I 
feel my heart begin to sick an fret. But I tink, 
what dis? If I fret, who I fret 'gainst? My 



HACfiEL WELLd. 39^ 

chiren gon, but my frim' tek *em. I can't fret 
'gainst my frien\ Den I lif up my heart and say, 
Well, Lord, you got 'em all now ; you aint lef me 
one. Now den you come stay wid me, and I no 
care. I tek you now in place o' all dem you tek 
from me. So he come to me closer dan eber, an I 
neber want for anybody else.* 

" She gave me a pretty thought of the perpetuity 
of Christian zeal beyond the present state. Speak- 
ing of our late lamented Kennedy, she said : 

'* ' Well, Mr. Kennedy he keep go and neber stop 
till he drop down in de Master work. So you must 
do too. All de dear minister what used to work 
wid him must do so too. Mr. Kennedy gone, but 
dat spirit Mr. Kennedy had he carry wid him. 
And you tink Mr. Kennedy do notin' in heaven? 
He no Stan still for God here, he no stan still dere. 
lie ministerin* spirit. He fly like de angel to help 
de work on.' 

" Taking leave of her, she slipped a half-dollar 
into ray hand. ' The poor have the gospel preached 
unto them, and the poor are the principal supporters 
of the gospel,* said I, as I perceived the piece she 
had deposited with me. 

"'I take this the more thankfully for the mis- 
sions, because, in these hard times, it is very sel- 
dom I have money put into my hand unasked, even 
for so good a cause ; and may God repay you mani- 
fold in this present life.' 

" ' Dat, sir, if you please, you tek for a token o' 
17* 






894 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

de lub I hab for you for Christ sake. T'ank 
God, I hab dis oder one for de missionary — all for 
Christ.' 

I felt exceedingly humble," added the Doctor. 

The missions were worthy Maum Rachel's half- 
dollar, I knew ; I felt that I was not." 

Let no one say that Christianity, before the sub- 
lime truths of which an archangel might well stand 
uncovered, is not at the same time adapted to the 
intellectual capacity of the lowliest of the children 
of earth. Could a synod of divines have set forth 
more strikingly the true doctrine in regard to " the 
means of grace" than Maum Rachel did? They 
were necessary for her in ordinary circumstances, 
but providentially precluded from them, the blessed 
Jesus had a shorter way to her than by Trinity 
Church ! What a depth of divine philosophy is 
unfolded in the thought, so clearly conceived, 
though uttered in broken English ! 

And where can we find the evangelical ground 
for resignation under the loss of friends and 
children more touchingly presented to view than in 
the sublime idea that a Divine friend has removed 
them, and loyalty to that friend demands unques- 
tioning submission to behests that must be kind as 
well as wise ? And then humble love comes closer 
to that Divine friend, and takes him in the place of 
all who had been taken away, and finds more than 
all in the more intimate fellowship of the spirit 
with him. 



RACHEL WELLS. 895 

It might be supposed that in the mind of an illit- 
erate African woman, any notion of the employ- 
ments of the heavenly world must of necessity 
be very crude and material — rest from labor, 
abodes of indolent pleasure, the antithesis in its 
glittering types of sensuous enjoyment to the stern 
conditions of the earthly lot. Not a word of it in 
the instance of Rachel Wells. There is more than 
Miltonic grandeur in the thought that the faithful 
minister of Christ carries with him into the eternal 
state the spirit which prompted and sustained a life 
of laborious zeal for Christ. That spirit never 
faltered here; its wing of active exertion never 
drooped ; a subordinate agent in the plans of the 
Divine economy, it never stood still for God on 
earth. Trained into habitual vigor by the prepar- 
atory discipline of the present life, that same spirit 
will not stand still in the celestial world. A min- 
istry of benevolent enterprise, embodying modes 
of action, sentiment, aftection, that have been 
trained on earth, measures out the successive stages 
of its jubilant ascent on the path of eternal life. 
We may clothe the thought in the starry robes of 
gorgeous language ; or we may look at it in the 
severe simplicity of the most homely words, it is 
very much the same. It is a thought that we do 
not find in all the imperial range of Greek and 
Roman and Oriental learning — nowhere outside of 
the Book of God. 

The reader is suflficiently interested, we trust, in 
Racliol Wells, to allow us to add a word or two 



LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

more. She was at the time of her death. August, 
1819, the oldest member of the Charleston Me- 
thodist church, white or colored. She was the first 
colored person who joined the society, at the time 
when the first religious meetings were held at the 
house of her master, Mr. Edgar Wells. She saw 
the foundation laid of the first Cumberland Street 
Church — a year or two after the close of the war of 
the Revolution. She outlived two generations of 
Methodists, a beautiful example of the power of 
religion to make a servant upright and happy. A 
short time before her death, we had the pleasure 
of an interview with her. She conversed just as 
one likes to hear an aged disciple talk. Her 
thoughts seemed equally divided between the past 
and tlie future. She told us the story of the first 
planting of Methodism in Charleston ; and dwelt 
with affectionate reverence upon the memory of 
her master, who was instrumental in bringing her 
to God. The anticipation of meeting him and the 
various members of the family, in heaven, gave 
transport to her heart. But after indulging for some 
moments anticipations that rested on human rela- 
tionships, she added, that all this was nothing in 
comparison to the joy she felt in the prot^pect of 
meeting that Saviour who died for her, whose like- 
ness God*s word assured her she should for ever 
bear. This love of Christ was to her, as it has 
been to millions, the antidote to death. Kindled in 
her heart at her conversion to God in early life, it 
had been the guiding light, the protecting glory 



RACMBL WBLL6. 



of a religious profession extending through seventy 
years, and, with a ray serene as the morning star, 
it shone upon the last hour of mortal life, then 
brightened into immortality. 



898 LITB OV WILI.IAM OAPBBS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

General Conference at New Tork — Debate on Finley's resolution-* 
Incipient measures for a division of the Church. 

Nbar the close of April, 1844, Dr. Capers left 
Charleston to attend the General Conference, held 
at New Tork, as one of the delegates from the 
South Carolina Conference. His home during the 
session was at the residence of Mr. Fletcher Har- 
per, where he found his friends Olin and Durbiu. 
The anti-slavery fanaticism of the Eastern and 
Northern portion of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
reached a crisis at this General Conference, and it 
turned out to be the last at which delegates from 
the Southern and Northern Conferences met in one 
assembly. 

At the close of the first week the appeal of the 
llev. F. Harding, of the Baltimore Conference, was 
taken up. On the 11th May, it was decided, on a 
motion to reverse the decision of the Baltimore 
Conference, by fifty-six ayes to one hundred and 
seventeen nays. "I confess," said Dr. Capers, 
" that both in the action of the Baltimore Confer- 
ence in the case of Harding, and the action of the 
General Conference on his appeal, in which the de- 



CASE OF BISHOP ANDREW. 899 

cision of the Baltimore Conference was afRrmed, a 
fancied purity from the defilement ' of the great 
evil of slavery,' appeared a Moloch at whose altar 
humanity, justice, equity, seemed to be sacrificed." 

This case was invested with higher interest, as 
it showed the strength of the two parties in refer- 
ence to a more important case, that of Bishop 
Andrew, who, it was found, had become "con- 
nected with slavery." The Bishop, ascertaining 
that a strong excitement was growing up against 
him on this account, had solicited an interview 
with the delegates of the Southern Conferences, 
and proposed, if they wished it, to resign his oflice 
for the sake of peace. They unhesitatingly de- 
clined any assent to such a proposal ; but, on the 
contrary, assured the Bishop that he could not 
procure peace by such a sacrifice ; that his resigna- 
tion would imply submission to an unjust and in- 
jurious censorship, and would involve an utter 
abandonment of Southern interests. 

On the 14th May, Dr. Capers introduced in the 
General Conference the following resolution : "In 
view of the distracting agitation which has so long 
prevailed on the subject of slavery and abolition, 
and especially the difiBculties under which we labor 
in the present General Conference, on account of 
the relative position of brethren North and South 
on this perplexing question ; therefore. 

Resolved^ That a committee of three from the 
North, and three from the South, be appointed to 
confer with the Bishops, and report within two 



400 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

days, as to the possibility of adopting some plan, 
and what, for the permanent pacification of the 
Church/' 

This proposition was received with general fevor, 
and a committee was accordingly raised, with Dr. 
Capers as chairman. After several ineffectual 
attempts to lay down a basis of agreement satisfac- 
tory to both parties, the committee reported their 
failure, and were discharged from any further con- 
sideration of the subject. This failure satisfied 
all thoughtful minds that the dismemberment of 
the Church was an event inevitable. The knell of 
the Church-union was alreadj^ sounded. The dif- 
ficulty was unmanageable by human wisdom or 
power. 

The first formal action in the case of Bishop 
Andrew was taken May 20th, at the instance of a 
member of the Baltimore delegation. On the 22d 
a resolution was introduced by another member of 
the same delegation, affectionately requesting the 
Bishop to resign his office. On the 23d, a sub- 
stitute was offered by Mr. Finley^ of Ohio, resolving 
that it was the sense of the General Conference 
that Bishop Andrew desist from the exercise of his 
office so long as the impediment of his connection 
with slavery should remain. 

The broad ground on which the Northern mem- 
bers rested their plea was that of expediency. No 
attempt was made to show that the Bishop had 
violated any law of the Book of Discipline, or any 
pledge given at the time of his election io the 



-•« -— •^^V' 4^j0.nwA 



DR. WIN AN S. 401 

Episcopacy, that he would never become a slave- 
holder. But inasmuch as it was held impossible 
for him to exercise his functions in an Annual 
Conference where the anti-slavery spirit prevailed 
to a fanatical extent, while at the same time as a 
!6ishop he was a general superintendent, it was 
maintained that he had disqualified himself for his 
office, and must desist from exercising it any- 
where. To this the Southern members replied, 
that the expediency was wholly on one side of this 
question ; that the measure, however expedient for 
the ISTorth, would be fearfully ruinous to the inter- 
ests of the Church in the South. A distinct, 
strong, unanimous testimony was delivered on that 
point. 

Dr. Winans, of the Mississippi Conference, made 
the first speech on the Southern side. Dr. Capers 
the last. Very able and impressive speeches were 
also made by Dr. W. A. Smith, of Virginia, by the 
Pierces, father and son, and Dr. Longstreet, of 
Georgia, Mr. Stringfield, of Holston, Dr. A. L. P. 
Green, of Tennessee, and others. Dr. Winans was 
an impetuous speaker, after the Greek model; 
very plain in attire and appearance, wearing no 
cravat, making no fiourishes. But if any adver- 
sary supposed that this unpretending exterior indi- 
cated a mind of ordinary calibre, he very soon 
changed his opinion. Massive strength, put in 
motion by a glowing spirit, furnished a mighty 
momentum, which struck like the swell of the sea 

when stormy winds rule the waters. "Sir,*' he 
26 



40S LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

fisidy '^ by the vote contemplated by this body, aad 
BoUcited by this reaolutiony you will render it ex* 
pedieut — nay, more, you render it indispensable- 
nay, more, you render it uncontrollably necessary that 
a large portion of the Church — ^and permit me to 
add, a portion always conformed in their views axid 
practices to the Discipline of the Church — ^I say 
that by this vote you render it indispensably, ay, 
uncontrollably necessary, that that portion of the 
Church should — ^I dread to pronounce the word, 
but you understand me. Yes, sir, you create an 
uncontrollable necessity that there should be a dis- 
connection of that large portion of the Church from 
your body. It is not because there are prejudices 
waked up by unceasing agitation, year after year, 
in opposition to the spirit and language of the 
Discipline, but it arises out of the established laws 
of society — from a state of things under the control 
of political and civil government, which no minister 
of the gospel can control or influence in the smallest 
degree. If you press this action in the mildest 
form in which you approach the Bishop, you will 
throw every minister in the South kors du combat ; 
you will cut us off from all connection with masters 
and servants ; and will leave us no option — God is 
my witness that I speak with all sincerity of pur^ 
pose toward you — ^but to be disconnected with your 
body. If such necessity exists on your part to 
drive this man from his oflSice, we reassert that 
this must be the result of your action in this matter. 
We have no will, no choice in the thing. It 



SPEECH IN BP. ANDREW'S CASE. 408 

eoxnes upon us as destiny; it comes with over- 
whelming force ; and all we can do is to submit to 
it/' 

These passages were delivered with the true De- 
mosthenean force. The irrepressible emotion, the 
"erect countenance," the flashing eye, and ringing 
voice, the unfaltering prediction of consequences 
that were to follow, and resound through all Me- 
thodist history, made the speech memorable. 

Dr. Capers spoke at the close of the twelve days* 
debate. In many respects, he was the antithesis 
of Dr. Winans. Fine finish in face, dress, de- 
livery ; perfect command of voice and emotion ; 
refinement of manner, and charm of grace and 
urbanity ; keenness of intellect, and a firm hold on 
the respect and kind feelings of the whole assem- 
bly — all these combined elements gave him a favor- 
able position, even at the close of a prolonged and 
exciting debate. From the posture of parties, there 
was no ground of hope left to any Southern mem- 
ber that the contemplated measures could be ar- 
rested. No vote could be changed by argument or 
persuasion. It was rather to the whole country — 
to posterity, that the appeal was felt to be made. 

The first point Dr. Capers made was in respect 
to the unity of the Church. His argument was in 
substance this : Bishop Andrew is under arrest as 
a slaveholder, because thereby he has made it im- 
possible for himself to exercise in the non-slave- 
holding States his Episcopal functions. Very 
well. You maintain that a General Conference ip 



404 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

the supreme power in the Church, to which the 
Bishops are subordinate and responsible. How 
absurd is the clamor against a slaveholding Bishop, 
as a contamination upon a part of the Church, 
when the General Conference itself includes slave- 
holders, who thus, by the very unity of the Church, 
connect these immaculate Conferences inextricabl3' 
with " the great evil !" '' Yes, sir,** he said, " they 
and I are brethren, whether they will or no. The 
same holy hands have been laid upon their heads 
and upon my head. The same vows which they 
have taken, I have taken. At the same altar where 
they minister, do I minister; and with the same 
words mutually on our tongues. We are the same 
ministry, of the same Church ; not like^ but idenii- 
cal. Are they Elders ? So am L Spell the word. 
There is not a letter in it which they dare deny me. 
Take their measure. I am just as high as they are, 
and they are as low as I am. We are not one 
ministry for the North, and another ministry for 
the South ; but one and one only, for the whole 
Church.** 

It could not have made his argument more 
conclusive or irresistible, had he added, that by 
virtue of this same unity and connectionalism of 
the Church, he, a slaveholder, had himself been 
called on by Northern as well as Southern votes to 
represent the entire American Methodist Church, 
a few years previously, before the British Wes- 
leyan Conference. Had the lapse of these few 
years altered the immutable law of Christian morals, 



SPBECH IN BP. Andrew's case. 405 

and made that to be wrong to-day which was per- 
fectly right then ? 

After a brief examination of the new doctrine 
which had been impi^ovised to cover the approach- 
ing action, that, namely, which held Bishops to be 
merely officers of the General Conference, liable to 
be set aside as class-leaders, at the mere pleasure 
of a majority, and showing what a solemn farce 
the consecration service would become on such a 
supposition, Dr. Capers went on to exhibit the 
unconstituiionalUy of the contemplated proceeding. 
He maintained that whatever else the Constitution 
of the Church might be, it must first be Christian, 
and secondly, Protestant, and thirdly, consistent 
with the great object for which the Methodist 
Church was raised up, to spread scriptural holiness 
over these lands. In elaborating this last point, he 
showed how the proceedings against the Bishop 
must impede the course of the ministr}^ in many of 
the States, and debar access altogether to large 
portions of the colored population. He was now 
approaching a point of view where, from the very 
office he had held under the General Conference 
for the last four years — that of Missionary Secre- 
tary for the South — he was entitled to speak with 
the highest authority. If any man in America 
could be supposed to be well informed on this sub- 
ject, Dr. Capers was that man. And what was his 
testimony? "Never, never,'* said he, "have I suf- 
fered, as in view of the evil which this measure 
threatens against the South. The agitation has 



406 LIFBOF WILLIAM GAPSRS. 

begun there ; and I tell you that though our hearts 
were to be torn from our bodies, it could avail 
nothing when once you have awakened the feeling 
that we cannot be trusted among the slaves. Once you 
have done this, you have effectually destroyed us. I could 
wish to die sooner than live to see such a day. As 
sure as you live, there are tens of thousands, nky, 
hundreds of thousands, whose destiny may be 
perilled by your decision on this case. When we 
tell you that we preach to a hundred thousand 
slaves in our missionary field, we only announce 
the beginning of our work — ^the beginning openings 
of the door of access to the most numerous masses 
of slaves in the South. When we add that there 
are two hundred thousand now within our reach 
who have no gospel unless we give it to them, it is 
still but the same announcement of the beginnings 
of the opening of that wide and effectual door, 
which was so long closed, and so lately has begun 
to be opened, for the preaching of the gospel by 
our ministry, to a numerous and destitute portion 
of the people. close not this door ! Shut us 
not out from this great work, to which we have 
been so signally called of God.'* 

In this strain he went on to the conclusion of his 
speech. Had it been within the possibility of 
human agency to close or bridge the gulf of separa- 
tion which yawned between the Northern an<i 
Southern sections of the Church, this fervid^ teiU 
ing, and powerful appeal to the Christian prin- 
ciples and emotions of the majority, must hav^ 



SPEECH IK BP. ANDREW'S CASE. 407 

done it. Were they not the very men, by eminence, 
who were clamoring about the civil and social con- 
dition of the negro population of the Southern 
States ? But were they not, also, the very preachers 
whose business it was to ask the question, " What 
shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole 
world, and lose his own soul?** Was it possible 
that these men cared nothing for the souls of the 
negroes ? Swallowed up, as some of them no 
doubt were, in the abstractions of a fanaticism 
which was blind to all spiritual and eternal inter- 
ests ; and hardened as some of them possibly were 
by the hypocritical cant of abolitionism, there was 
yet enough of sound Christianity among the major- 
ity of that General Conference, to feel the force of 
those considerations — irresistible to a good man — 
which in so touching a style this speech had set 
before them. Why, then, did they carry out the 
measure objected to on such weighty considera- 
tions? The answer is, that all considerate men 
among them saw that the time had come for a 
separation. They meant to meet the emergency 
with a steady determination to do justice to the 
claims of that portion of the Church represented 
by the minority. Subsequent acts show that they 
are entitled to the justification found alone in such 
a determination. 

Dr. Few, of Georgia, whose want of health had 
deprived the South of his important services as a 
dirfegate, upon reading Dr. Capers's speech, made 



408 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

the following remark : " I would be willing to risk 
the whole cause upon that speech alone, with every 
sound-minded, unprejudiced man, although he 
should be required to read all that was said on the 
opposite side." 

This speech was made on Thursday, May 30th. 
The Bishops requested that no afternoon session 
should be held, in order that they might have time 
for a consultation, in the hope that a compromise 
might yet be eftected. On the next day the result 
of this consultation was presented in a communi- 
cation recommending a postponement of further 
action in Bishop Andrew's case until the ensuing 
General Conference. This forlorn- hope proposition 
came to nothing ; and on the day following, June 
1st, the vote was taken, and Mr. Finley's resolution 
was adopted — one hundred and eleven members 
voting in the affirmative, and sixty-nine in the 
negative. 

Dr. L. Pierce then rose and gave notice that a 
protest would be presented against the action of 
the majority, by the Southern delegations. This 
masterly paper was drawn up and read by Dr. 
Bascom. On Monday, June 3, Dr. Capers intro- 
duced a series of resolutions recommending the 
Annual Conferences to suspend the constitutional 
restrictions, so as to allow the existence. .of two 
General Conferences, one for the States North, and 
one for the States in which slavery exists. These 
were referred to a committee of nine, who reported 



PLAN OF SEPARATION. 409 

on the 5th that they could not agree upon any thing 
which they judged would be acceptable to the Con- 
ference. 

Dr. Longstreet then, in behalf of the Southern 
and South-western Conferences, presented the fol- 
lowing declaration : " The delegates of the Con- 
ferences in the slaveholding States take leave to 
declare to the General Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, that the continued agitation of 
the subject of slavery and abolition in a portion of 
the Church, the frequent action on that subject in 
the General Conference, and especially the extra- 
judicial proceedings against Bishop Andrew, which 
resulted, on Saturday last, in the virtual suspension 
of him from his office as Superintendent, must 
produce a state of things in the South which ren- 
ders a continuance of the jurisdiction of that Gen- 
eral Conference over these Conferences inconsistent 
with the success of the ministry in the slavehold- 
ing States.'* 

This declaration was then referred to a committee 
of nine. Dr. Paine, of Tennessee, being chairman. 
They were instructed by a formal resolution to de- 
vise, if possible, a constitutional plan for a mutual 
and friendly division of the Church, provided they 
could not devise a plan for an amicable adjustment 
of the difficulties existing on the subject of slavery. 

The next day Dr. Paine brought in a Plan of 
Separation, which allowed the Annual Confer- 
ences in the slaveholding States to unite in a dis- 
tinct ecclesiastical connection, should they find it 
18 



410 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPSRS. 

necesRar}' ; and which fixed the territorial limits of 
the Churches North and South ; allowed ministers 
of every grade to determine their ecclesiastical 
connection ; gave up to the Southern organization 
all rights of property in meeting-houses, parson- 
ages, colleges, schools, Conference ftinds, cemeteries, 
and the like ; and provided for the fair division of 
the Book Concern as soon as the Annual Confer- 
ences should remove the restriction on the powers 
of the General Conference to do so. This plan 
evidently made the Southern Conferences judges 
of the necessity of division, and referred but a 
single point — that of the pro rata division of the 
Book Concern — to the whole body of Annual 
Conferences. The unanimity with which this great 
scheme of separation was voted by the Gkneral 
Conference, was alike honorable to the judgments 
and hearts of the majority. There is no doubt 
that, under the provisions of this plan of separa- 
tion, the Southern organization would have been 
amicably carried through, and the Book Concern 
fund divided without an appeal to legal tribunals, 
had th^ official journal of the Northern Church 
adopted a pacific and conciliatory policy. Unfor- 
tunately, this organ, so powerful for moulding pub- 
lic opinion, was in the hands of a person wholly 
unsuited to the emergency. To great and ac- 
knowledged ability, there was united in his charac- 
ter an overweening sense of self-importance. Be 
Wfts the Palinurus who could steer the ship through 
§torm and shoal. He would maintain the unity 



LEGAL DECISION. 411 

and integrity of the Church, all the Hotspurs of the 
South to the contrary notwithstanding. The paper 
conducted by him circulated extensively in the 
South : he would make its influence there more 
powerful to control opinion than the united influ- 
ence of the representatives of the Southern Con- 
ferences; more powertUl than the sense of iiyurj 
among a high-spirited people, impatient of foreign 
interference and dictation in their domestic con- 
cerns. It is needless to add that a signal failure 
followed all these vain conceits. The only success 
accomplished was a defeat of the measure proposed 
in respect to a division of the Book Concern. And, 
notwithstanding the vigorous attempts of this press 
to fix the odium of secession upon the Southern 
Church, which would invalidate their just claim 
to a portion of the common fund, the Northern 
Conferences, by an aflirmative vote of one thousand 
one hundred and sixty-four against one thousand 
and sixty-seven in the negative, expressed their 
sense of the righteousness of the Southern claim. 
There lacked but two hundred and sixty-nine votes 
to make up the constitutional majority of two- 
thirds requisite to alter the restrictive rule. The 
courts of law subsequently, as it is well known, 
gave the Southern Church what was due to it. 
The opinion was expressed by one <yf the eminent 
legal gentlemen who managed the case for the 
Southern Commissioners, that whatever took place 
afterward, through mischiefs growing out of the press, 
the General Conference, when it agreed to the 



412 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAFBRS. 

division, did it harmoniously, kindly, and in the 
expectation of a kind communion afterward. And 
mischief, and nothing but mischief, grew out of 
the unhappy course of the press aforementioned. 
It reminds one of the fisherman in the Arabian 
story, whose persevering industry first fished up a 
basket of slime, and then the carcass of an ass, 
and finally dragged out a malevolent genie, that 
was potent enough for harm. 

Dr. Capers was appointed, at the ensuing session 
of the South Carolina Conference, Superintendent 
of the missions to the blacks in Georgia, Alabama, 
and South Carolina; and elected a delegate to the 
Convention held at Louisville, Kentuckj% at which 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was or- 
ganized. As Chairman of the Committee on Mis- 
sions, he drew up a circular letter, to be sent by 
the Convention to all the churches of the new 
Connection, forcibly presenting the claims of that 
important department under the new aspects which 
had opened upon Southern Methodism. He also 
wrote the Pastoral Address — a paper admirable in 
its tone, and equal to the occasion, yet inculcating 
the purest spirit of peace and love, and breathing 
the warmest attachment to the doctrines and dis- 
cipline, the economy and usages of primitive Ameri- 
can Methodism. 



OKDAINED BISHOP. 418 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Elected and ordained Bishop— First tour of Episcopal Yisitations — 
Travels through the border territory of the Virginia Conference. 

At the close of the year 1845 Dr. Capers was 
stationed at Columbia. Here, at the request of the 
South Carolina Conference, he revised the catechism 
for the use of the negro missions, which he had 
prepared some years previously, adding a second 
part, comprehending a brief outline of the history 
of redemption. This was submitted to the Com- 
mittee on Missions at the General Conference at 

f 

Petersburg, and adopted by the Conference, and 
ordered to be introduced into the missions generally. 
In the spring of 1846 he attended the session of 
the first General Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South. On the 7th of May, he 
and Dr. R. Paine were elected Bishops. On the. 
14th they were consecrated to their high and holy 
office. At 12 o'clock the interesting solemnity 
took place, at the Washington Street Church. 
Bishop Andrew opened the service by singing the 
463d hymn, commencing, 

** Saviour of men, thy searching eye 
Doth all ray inmost thoughts descry : 
Doth aught on earth my wishes raise, 
Or the world's pleasure, or its praise t 



414 LIFB OV WILIflAM GAPERS. 

'*The loye of Christ doth me constrain 
To seek the wandering souls of men ; 
With cries, entreaties, tears, to saye, 
To snatch them from the gaping graye." 

After extemporaneous prayer, the Bishops-elect 
were presented, Dr. Capers by Dr. Pierce, and Dr. 
Paine by Mr. Early. The Collect, Epistle, and 
Gospel were read by Bishop Andrew ; the questions 
to the Bishops-elect were proposed by Bishop Soule, 
who, together with Bishop Andrew and the elders 
presenting, laid their hands upon the heads of the 
Bishops-elect, with the consecrating formula. The 
Bible was then delivered to them with the accom- 
panying charge. The benediction, preceded by 
suitable prayers, closed the solemn service. 

The following letter written to Mrs. Capers on 
the occasion will be read with interest: "I left 
you for the General Conference not knowing what 
was before me. None of the brethren in our quar- 
ter had spoken to me, none from a distance had 
written to me, about my being put into the Epis- 
copacy ; and after I came here, up to the hour of 
the election, the subject was scarcely named except 
in the most incidental manner. I thought not of 
being made Bishop. The result took me by 
surprise. And I am glad that it was so sudden, 
for the very suddenness of it made it more effectual 
to rouse me to (what I trust humbly in God's 
mercy may prove) the final conflict. All or 
nothing, now and for life, come what may, to me 
and mine, seemed to be the question involved ; and 



FIINSSS FOB THE OPISCOPAOY. 415 

thank God, I felt that however low my spirit had 
been depressed in past conflicts, struggling with 
adversity, I was still Christian enough, and Chris- 
tian minister enough, to decide without hesitancy. 
Indeed, you know that in all the past, the bitter- 
ness of the cup has never been so much the amount 
of difficulties I have had to contend with, as that 
cruel, insupportable insinuation that those diffi- 
culties were on account of the Lord's controversy, 
with me for having once yielded to temptation and 
left the work. I felt that the favor of God and the 
confidence of the Church was our best estate, and 
best patrimony for our children; and whether or 
not, I dare not, I would not draw back. To-day I 
feel that we all are on the altar together ; and O, 
have I not felt that ' the altar sanctifieth the gift T 
I have only to cast all my care on God, all my 
multiform unworthiness on his Divine goodness 
and condescension in Christ, and go on. I have 
so reverenced the work and office of a Bishop and 
the Bishops themselves, that that itself embarrasses 
me. I cannot feel myself a Bishop ; but, thank 
God, I feel what is better— an abiding sense of 
being accepted of him, in an humble and sincere 
devotion of myself, without stint, to his service.** 

It was highly honorable to Dr. Capers that he 
should have been elected in the manner just related. 
His high character, his known devoJipn to thb 
itinerant ministry, and his past services, rendered 
unnecessary the slightest effort on the part of his 
friends to secure his election. It is no wonder, 



116 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

indeed, that the thing should have taken him bj 
surprise, for his unaffected humility led him to 
consider many of his brethren more suitable for 
the office than himself. Such a self- estimate, 
among all right-minded men, is the unfailing* con- 
comitant of that class of abilities required for the 
peculiarly difficult and delicate functions of a 
Methodist Bishop. What minister of Christ, 
•properly aware of the responsibilities attached to 
the Episcopal office in the Methodist Church, and 
especially if surrounded by the endearments of the 
family circle, would not unhesitatingly say, nolo 
episcojyari^ if the matter were left to his own choice ? 
Bishop Paine was called, by the plan of visitation 
adopted at the time he was made Bishop, to a 
seven months* absence from home, one brief visit 
excepted. Surely no honor attached to the office, 
apart from the constraint of imperative duty, could 
be an equivalent for self-sacrifice of this kind. 

The plan of Episcopal visitations assigned to 
Bishop Capers the Holston, Virginia, North Caro- 
lina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida Con- 
ferences, as his first tour. These visitations 
occupied him from October to February. The 
Holston Conference was held at Wytheville, Va. 
Leaving home late in September, he passed through 
Asbfe'ville, down the French Broad, and attended 
a camp-meeting at Parrottsville, Tenn. *'The 
meeting," he says, "was a good one, the number 
of conversions above forty, and of persons joining 
the Church, fifty. The French Broad has been 



-^ 



.'. V 



GBOROE WELLS. 417 

celebrated for its scenery by all who have travelled 
along its rocky shores ; but I esteem the scenery 
which now and then opens to the traveller along 
the road I have travelled since I left the French 
Broad, much more delightful. On the French 
Broad, every thing is bold and rugged, but you 
are always shut in to a scene of the same general 
features, without any extensive view — the water 
hurrying along down its rocky bed at your feet, 
and the high hills closely shutting up the prospect. 
But there are spots, coming from Parrottsville to 
Col. Earnest's, beyond Greensville, where I now 
am, at which you see on the right hand, south- 
eastwardly, eastwardly, and north-eastwardly, ranges 
of mountains lying at all distances, from five 
to thirty miles; while on the left hand an im- 
mense valley of meadow-lands and hills, along 
the NoUichucky river, opens as far as you can see, 
with mountains at great distances diversifying the 
scene with exquisite pictures of the bosom of 
nature. There is no country in America so fine as 
this for its natural scenery ; and the lands are very 
rich. Nor have you to climb to the tops of moun- 
tains to enjoy the prospects I have alluded to. All 
the country between different ranges of mountains 
is called a valley, though it may be as uneven as 
Newton county, Ga. ; and along any line of road 
passing through a valley you will be almost always 
in view of some mountain-range, and frequently of 
several ranges at various distances. Three nights 

ago, I stayed with George Wells, and the next day 

27 



118 LIFE OV WILLIAM CAPERS. 

met with Stephen Brooks, of the first generation 
of Methodist preachers. Brooks began travelling 
in 1789, and Wells a j'ear or two after. At the 
house of old brother Wells I was at one of the 
resting-places of Bishop Asbury, and one at which 
he stopped in the tour when I first met with him, 
after I had commenced the work of the itinerant 
ministry.*' 

On this route. Bishop Capers visited Emory aud 
Henry College, and was so much pleased that he 
wrote a highly complimentary notice of the insti- 
tution for the columns of the Southern Christian 
Advocate. Thence he went to Abingdon, and 
reached Wytheville, the seat of the Holston Con- 
ference, almost oppressed with the kind and con- 
stant attentions shown him. After the session of 
the Conference he spent a day or two with Mrs. 
Preston, the daughter of Major Hart, an old 
Columbia friend. 

Prom Wytheville he crossed the mountains and 
went to Mecklenburg county, where the Virginia 
Conference was held, at Randolph Macon College. 
Of these two Conferences he says : " I have been 
much blessed in my official labors, and am bound 
ntore than ever to devote myself to them. During 
the Conferences, both at Wytheville and Randolph 
Macon, I have enjoyed uncommon serenity and 
elevation of mind. God has blessed me with the 
light of his countenance, and the preachers have 
ti*eated me with the most affectionate kindness.'* 

After attending the North Carolina Conference 



EPISCOPAL VISITATIONS. 419 

at Newbern, he reached home about the middle of 
December, and spent a day or two with his family. 
The Georgia Conference convened at Macon, 
December 23d; the session was a very pleasant 
one under the presidency of Bishop Capers. After 
holding the South Carolina Conference at Charles- 
ton, he left early in February for Quincy, the seat 
of the Florida Conference. On his way he spent 
several days at the house of his old and honored 
friend, Mr. Charles Munnerlyn, where he was 
kindly cared for after a very fatiguing journey. 
This was made in a leaky, half-curtained hack, 
inflicting on him extreme exposure in bad weather, 
and bringing on in a short time great stricture of 
the respiratory organs, and inflammation of the 
bronchia. He sutfered at times extremelv from 
this attack, for two years, when in the spring of 
1849, by God's gracious providence, and without 
the least instrumentality of human means, he was 
relieved of it. 

After a pleasant and profitable session of the 
Florida Conference, he spent a Sunday in Talla- 
hassee, and another in Madison, Florida, being 
accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Michau, who had 
tendered the Bishop a seat in his buggy. He 
reached Charleston about the middle of March, 
having spent nearly seven months in this first 
round of Episcopal visitations. His family were 
shortly after removed to a commodious residence 
in the upper part of the city, which had been put 
ttt his service by the kindrvess of bis firieods* - 



120 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

The Virginia Conference lay within Bishop Ca- 
pers's district during the year 1847. Excitement 
was running high in the "border" circuits, and it 
was thought desirable that he should travel through 
them. A special invitation having been sent him, 
he set out on a visit to that part of Virginia on the 
18th May. The following diary gives an account 
^f his movements: 

'^ "At Wilmington, May 19, several brethren were 
^waiting my arrival at the wharf. It was arranged 
that I should stay with brother Thomas Smith. 
Preached at night; some forty mourners at the 
altar, and several conversions. Prayer-meeting 
next morning. After preaching at night, a still 
greater number at the altar than the night before, 
and several converted. Got to Richmond early 
Saturday mornjpg, May 22. Preached twice on 
Sunday. Attended the Sunday-school celebration 
of the Centenary and Clay street Sunday-schools 
on Monday. Left Richmond by the railroad to 
Gordons ville. 26th, preached at night. Thurs- 
day, carried over roads rough enough, fourteen 
miles to Col. J. Walker's ; dined and was sent in 
his carriage to Madison Court-house. Preached at 
night. Friday, at 2 o'clock, got on a smooth-walk- 
ing pony, for the enterprise of over the mountain 
on horseback. Nine miles got me to brother B. 
Conway's, where dismissed the pony, and got Kate, 
a pleasant, never-tiring nag. Rode on nine miles 
farther, over hills and little mountains, to brother 
S. Kennedy's. Saturday morning, set out early. 



WBStBRN VIRGINIA. 421 

(rocks, rocks,) and went over the Blue Ridge, by 
Swift-Run gap, to the Quarterly Meeting at Elk 
Run, fifteen or sixteen miles, and right to preach- 
ing. Less tired after the preaching than before. 
Preaching and sacrament on Sunday. Monday, 31st, 
to Harrisonburg, twenty miles, and preached at 
night. Again at 11 A. M., and at night Tuesday. 
On Wednesday rode Kate Conway to my friend 
Jennings's, at Elk Run, twenty miles, to dinner; 
and after dinner, over the Blue Ridge, and one or 
two spurs of mountains on the eastern side, to 
brother McMuUan's. He computes the distance 
from Harrisonburg at thirty-eight miles — mind that 
— ^thirty-eight miles on horseback, crossing the Blue 
Ridge, and a mountain cliflf besides, and the miles 
none of the shortest. Thursday, June 3d, nine 
miles to Wolftown, alias^ Trinity Church, and 
preached. A piece of cold ham and bread after 
preaching, and then off" fifteen miles to Col. James 
Walker's, to preach at 6 o'clock P. M. Friday, left 
Col. Walker's at 7J A. M. Got to Culpepper 
Court-house to dinner, and after dinner on to the 
White Sulphur Springs. I feel as comfortably as I 
could wish ; thanks to the best riding nag I ever 
rode; thanks to the mountain air; thanks to the 
ever-varied scenery of mountain and meadows, and 
wide-spreading prospects over hills and dales, 
covered with wheat fields and clover ; thanks to the 
sweet-singing birds ; and, above all, thanks to Him 
who is in all, and over all, and above all. Kate 
Conway and the saddlebags in preference to rail- 



^2 LIFE OF WILt^IAM OAi»fiHS« 

roads, steamboats, or stages, for a Bishop at hL| 
work. 

"Preached twice on Sabbath at Warrenton, 
Fauquier county. On Monday rode some thirteen 
miles to a small town called Salem, and preached,- 
and afterwards rode as much farther to the resi- 
dence of Dr. Taliaferro, just under the Blue Ridge. 
Tuesday: preached at Farrowsville, two miles this 
side of the Doctor's ; dined with a fine lady, Mrs. 
Ashby, with a large company; and after dinner 
rode on to sister Carter's, below Salem. Nine 
miles on Wednesday morning brought me to Bethel, 
where, after preaching, I dined with an excellent 
brother named Blackwell. Here, too, we had some 
twenty people to dinner; and after they had dined 
and seen the Bishop, I rode to Warrenton, where I 
had an appointment, and preached at night, The 
congregations at every place have been large. The 
whole of this circuit adhered South last year, and 
its present preachers were sent from the Virginia 
Conference. No wonder that the Baltimore 
preachers feel sore. To lose such a country, and 
such a people ! and with the aggravation of know- 
ing that the loss is to be continually increasing, tijl 
all this fine portion of the Old Dominion has ad- 
hered South. June 10th I left Warrenton with my 
amiable travelling companion, Dr. Buckner, for 
Fredericksburg, being still mounted on the incom- 
parable Kate Conway. Passed the night at tho 
residence of one of the best specimens of a saintly 
old Methodist lady, in one of the best specimens , 



MADISON'S BIRTHPLACE. 428 

of an old-time cottage-house, with a bower before it 
of all sorts of vines, and every thing in it as sim- 
ple and sweet as purity itself might desire. June 
11, reached Fredericksburg, which still belongs to 
the Baltimore Conference. Put up at Sanford's 
United States Hotel. 

"The next morning, Saturday, left Fredericks- 
burg at 6 o'clock, in the steamboat Planter. Fare- 
well to my good Kate Conway. At 9 o'clock 
reached Port Conway, having first touched at Port 
Royal, where Dr. Penn, Presiding Elder of Rich- 
mond District, met me, with whom I travelled very 
cleverly in his two-horse barouche, over fine, smooth 
roads. Our first meeting was for that day and 
Sunday, and was continued Monday, at a church 
six miles north-east from Port Conway. This Port 
Conway is little more than a stopping-place where 
the boats take in wood ; but it is notable for the 
fact that Mr. Madison was born there. The spot 
where the house stood in which he was born was 
pointed out to me in an oat-field, about two hundred 
yards from the landing-place, and quite near the road 
leading up from the landing-place. I say the spot 
and not the house was pointed out, for there was 
no vestige of the house remaining. It is remarka- 
ble that Washington, Madison, and Monroe were 
born in the same county — Westmoreland : though 
that county being afterwards divided, the new 
county. King George, took in the birthplace of 
Madison. Here, too, in Westmoreland lived Henry 
Lee, the great colonel of cavalry, to whom South 



424 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

Carolina in particular was so much indebted in the 
Revolutionary war. Col. Lee's place was on the 
Potomac, and called Stratford Hall. 

" Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I preached at 
the Union Church, King George county, mentioned 
above, and Sunday night went across the Rappa- 
hannock and preached in the clever little town of 
Port Royal, opposite to Port Conway. Tuesday, 
preached at Oak Grove, eight miles east from Union. 
Wednesday, at Westmoreland Court-house. Thurs- 
day, at Bethel, ten miles east from the Court-house. 
Saturday and Sunday, attended a Quarterly Meet- 
ing at Henderson's Chapel. Monday, 21st, rode 
thirty miles, or more, to Rehoboth, in Lancaster 
county, and preached there on Tuesday, and on 
Wednesday at White Chapel, in the same county. 
Congregations have been very large at all my ap- 
pointments, and the friends where I have stayed on 
my route kind and affectionate. There is no por- 
tion of Virginia, or of our whole territory, more 
interesting than this border territory : a fertile and 
beautiful country, and exceedingly well peopled." 

Bishop Capers reached home early in July from 
this tour of vigorous and successful labors. His 
account of it reminds one of the palmiest days of 
Francis Asbury and John Wesley. Really, for a 
man at his time of life, troubled with asthma 
occasionally, this was severe work. But there 
never was any lack of the "go-ahead" principle in 
Dr. Capers. His friend. Dr. Olin, once said of him, 
that he could do more hard work than any man of 



**AS MUCH AS t^ ME Is/* 425 

his acquaintance. Those who knew him best 
knew that he needed no spur. He was, con- 
sequently, a little exposed to over-action when 
abroad among strangers. He had reached a period 
when there was a considerable diminution of 
strength to "endure hardness,'* while at the same 
time there was no sensible decline of manly spirit. 
His motto was, "As much as in me is ;" and he 
never knew when that much had been expended, 
while he still had spirit enough to go on. 



426 LIFB OS WILJblAM CAPSBS. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Second tour of yisitations — The far West — Travels through the In- 
dian Territory, Arkansas, Texas. 

Bishop Capers's second tour of Episcopal visita- 
tions embraced a period of nearly five months, and 
reached from the Missouri river to Texas, taking in 
the Indian Mission Conference. He left Charleston 
September 9th, and reached Wheeling on the 16th. 
The Ohio river was low, and he was compelled to 
take passage in a small steamer of light draught, 
into which more than a hundred passengers were 
crowded. A tedious and uncomfortable passage 
got him to Louisville, Kentucky, too late to take 
part in the annual meeting of the Bishops and 
Mission Committee. As cold weather came on, his 
health began to droop somewhat, and asthma 
showed itself. By low water he was compelled to 
take stage to St. Louis. This involved incessant 
travelling during three days and two nights entire; 
and he reached St. Louis on the 25th September. 
The fatigue was too much for him, and he found 
it advisable to lie up for a day or two, at the resi- 
dence of his nephew, the Rev. Thomas H. Capers. 
On the 28th he set out in a light travelling wagon, 



IN MissouKi. 427; 

with his nephew and the Presiding Elder of the 
district, for Glasgow, the seat of the Missouri Con- 
ference, distant one hundred and seventy-five miles. 
He stood the drive, rough as it was occasionally, 
very well, and arrived in time to attend to the ordi- 
nation services on Sunday. At this Conference five 
preachers were admitted into the travelling conneo 
tion, and fifty-one stationed. 

The Conference adjourned October 7th, and he 
preached at Boonsville, twenty miles below Glas- 
gow, on the Missouri river, the next night. From 
this town, accompanied by Dr. Boyle and his 
nephew, he set out for the St. Louis Conference* 
They spent Sunday at Warsaw ; and before lep-vipg 
next morning, the Bishop bought a saddle, bridle, 
and other equipments for horseback travelling, at 
the close of the approaching Conference. On Tues^ 
day afternoon, our travellers reached Ebenezer 
camp-ground, in Greene county, Missouri, where 
Bishop Capers opened the session of Conference 
next morning. Asthma had been troubling hini ; 
but the fine weather on those broad prairie lands 
was continually improving his health. He preached 
on Sunday to a great concourse of people, and 
ordained both the deacons and elders, being en- 
gaged two hours and a half in the whole service, 
and feeling no particular harm from his exertions. 
After a short and very agreeable session, the Con* 
ference adjourned on Monday night. The Bishop 
bought a horse — not quite a Kate Conway, bow*- 
e^'er; sent his trunk back to St. Louis to be for- 



4^8 LIFB OF WILLIAM OAPBRS. 

warded to New Orleans; and once more in the 
saddle, felt almost young again. Brother Joplin, 
one of the preachers, was his travelling companion, 
to whose kind attentions he felt himself much in- 
debted. 

Leaving the camp-ground on Tuesday morning, 
he preached that night at Springfield to a crowded 
house, and passed the night in a luxurious man- 
sion, with a family of well-bred people, in the 
Ozark Mountains. Thirty miles the next day 
brought him to his stopping-place — an open house, 
and not much of it. Another thirty miles made 
the journey of Thursday. During the morning 
the wind at south made the weather too warm for 
an overcoat: at four o'clock, P.M., a sudden puff 
from the north-west changed the temperature to 
winter in an instant. There being rain the next 
day, and the weather very cold, our travellers did 
not start until afternoon, and failed to reach the 
town of Fayetteville on Sunday. On Monday, 
however, on getting into the town at eleven o'clock, 
the Bishop found that he had to stop and preach, a 
large congregation being in waiting. This led to 
a further detention for dinner ; so that it was three 
o'clock P. M. before he got again on the road. 
Comfortable quarters that night. The next day 
they were done with the Ozark Mountains.. "It 
makes me stiff and sore," says the Bishop, "to 
make a day's ride on horseback ; but the night re- 
freshes me, and the morning finds me ready to 
renew my toil." Passed through Van Buren — a 



\ 



INDIAN MISSION CONFERENCE. 129 

town on the Arkansas river, five miles from the 
Indian line — on the 26th. Thence to Fort Coffee 
Mission Station, a beautiful situation, on a high 
hill, immediately over the river Arkansas, eight or 
ten miles west of the State of Arkansas. He had 
time to spend only a night here, and was struck 
with the supper-scene. "The custom is to have 
family prayer at supper. Supper on table, the boys, 
fifty in number, were all seated with their faces 
outward when we went in. I read a short lesson, 
sang a hymn with them, and prayed ; after which 
grace was said, and supper dispatched." 

From Fort Coffee, Bishop Capers set off the next 
morning under the escort of some half-dozen agree- 
able preachers, who were on the way to the seat of 
the Indian Mission Conference, one hundred and 
fifty miles distant. Hardships here and there — a 
supper not to be described — sl breakfast which 
made some of the company leave the table, as 
though stricken with sea-sickness; farther on, a 
fine turkey cut up into bits, and boiled until all 
taste is lost, and the pieces served at table to be 
eaten with corn-bread ; boiled pork, fresh from the 
knife, without salt — (evidently there are few M. 
Soyers to preside at the Indian cuisine ;) and then, 
the condition of things here and there suggesting, 
on going to bed, the danger of getting up with the 
itch! — all this to the contrary, our good Bishop 
goes on, stage after stage, improving in health, and 
in the best spirits, until, arriving at Doaksville, the 
Beat of the Conference, he finds excellent q^uarters at 



i80 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APSB8. 

the house of an Indian widow lady, where he sleeps 
on downy pillows, in a mahogany bedstead, sur- 
rounded by all the appliances of high civiliza- 
tion. 

The Indian Mission Conference was composed 
of thirty-three preachers, thirteen of whom were 
Indians. Some of them had travelled five hundred 
miles to attend Conference. The Bishop thus de- 
scribes the exercises of Sunday : " I consented, at 
the earnest desire of the brethren, to have the ordi- 
nations and to preach, at the camp-ground, two 
miles from Doaksville, for the greater accommoda- 
tion of the Indian audience. The ground is an 
area of perhaps an acre and a half, enclosed with a 
rail fence. There is in the middle of the ground 
a well-built roof, some forty by sixty feet, on sub- 
stantial posts, with a shed at the pulpit end, some 
twenty feet wide, for the negroes, and the usual 
altar-place before the pulpit — all as with us. There 
are eleven tents made of plank or slabs, and well 
covered, the rest of the space being probably occu- 
pied at camp-meetings with tents of a more mov- 
able kind. I suppose the congregation may have 
numbered one thousand, of whom about a hundred 
and fifty were blacks, and about fifty whites. Pro- 
bably half of the whole, or more, understood Eng- 
lish well enough to understand me. Opened the 
dervice with singing the 508th hymn, L. M. ; and 
after prayer, read the 19th Psalm, and part of the 
17th chapter of St. Luke ; verse by verse, as I read, 
h^ng put into Choetaw by brother Page. The 



PREACHING TO THE INDIANS. 431 

text was an old one with me, but perhaps seldom 
before so appropriate, Luke xvii. 7-10. Having 
finished the sermon, I instantly beckoned Page to 
my side, and addressed, by sentences, those Choc- 
taws who had not understood my preaching. I 
fold them that never having tried to preach through 
an interpreter, and having a great deal to say to the 
ministers and others, I had not ventured it on that 
occasion. Bait it pained my heart that I was not 
able to make mj'^self understood to them. I loved 
them very much — prayed earnestly for them, and 
that God would make my brethren a great blessing 
to them — there was a world before ns with one 
language only — no need of an interpreter there — I 
wanted them to meet me with Jesus in heaven — 
begged them to meet me in heaven, which was open 
by the one only Saviour for us all. The whole 
service was good, but this last part of it was so re- 
markably blessed that I almost regretted not 
having gone through the whole in that way. I felt 
intensely myself — Page could hardly interpret for 
emotion — a venerable old Indian, Toby Chubbee, 
shouted aloud, and the whole face of the congrega- 
tion looked as if a new life had animated them. 
Indeed, I thought it strange that during the whole 
service, which lasted the usual time, the hundreds 
present who could not understand me, remained 
not only fixed to their seats, but seeming to gire 
close attention to all I said. May God be pleased 
to raise fruit from it ! After the whole service was 
<^OB€luded, and the ordination over, I went to tbe 



432 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

rear of the largest tent, where Mrs. Folsonij my in 
teresting hostess, had had a table spread, some 
thirty feet long, with abundance of provisions of 
her usual good quality — turkey, bacon, corned 
pork, roast pork, etc., etc., all right ChrisUanly cold; 
and having eaten heartily, came home that I might 
rest — needing rest.** 

His next Conference was held at Washington, 
Ark., from November 17th to 23d. . There were 
forty-three travelling preachers stationed, and four 
admitted on trial. During the session he was 

quartered with General R , where he was most 

hospitably entertained in a family of wealth and 
elegance. "Let me introduce you," he says, "to 
our table. We take the supper last evening as a 
specimen. 

"Gen. R. : * Bishop, try some of this lobster.' 

" 'Thank you. General, if you will not take it to 
be an encouragement of any extravagance. But 
really, after clams from New Orleans, last evening, 
have we now lobster from Boston, to our supper?* 

" Gen. R., with affected gravity : *Ah, sir, if you 
only knew how dreadful those curtain-lectures are, 
you would understand it.* 

" 'Mrs. R., I protest the General reflects on my 
understanding by that remark. I am too old a 
husband, and have been too often from home, not 
to know better what induces such purchases.' 

"Mrs. R., smiling with a blush: 'He need not 
apologize for bringing me a lobster, when luxuri- 
ating in all the good things they have at New 



KIND FRIENDS. 4B8 

Orleans. It would be hard if he did not even 
think of me.' 

" Bishop : ' Yes, General, Til take the lobster to 
encourage that quality in you.' 

'^ The General, helping me : ' That is the way 
you do it in Carolina, where wives are governed 
by their husbands ; but here in Arkansas, we just 
do as our wives tell us.* 

" 'And Mrs. R. told you to buy the lobster, did 
she V 

" ' No, not just that ; but I have to try and please 
her, that's all;' and a hearty laugh ended the case 
of the lobster." 

The Bishop describes his hostess as one of the 
loveliest women he had ever been in company with. 
He was a fine judge of female character; and 
possessed the genius, the sense of the beautiful, 
and the goodness of heart, which are necessary to 
a proper appreciation of that somewhat mysterious 
thing — woman-nature. "I really felt sorry," he 
says, •' to bid this kind family farewell. Not that 
I care a fig to part with their luxurious table, but 
themselves. Kind old Mrs. E., Mrs. R.'s mother, 
would have me to take a pair of large woollen socks, 
to draw over my shoes and ankles; while R., 
generous fellow, would examine every thing about 
my horse-equipage, and condemned my saddle as 
not being of the right Spanish shape, and of con- 
sequence not so easy as it ought to be ; and whether 
I would or no, he put his saddle on my horse, in 

place of mine, as the only one fit to ride. I shall 
28 



484 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

take it home with me if I can get it there. The 
tree of the saddle alone cost and is worth ten dollars." 

During the session, Bishop Capers preached on 
Sunday morning, on Matt, xviii. 1-4 ; and found 
still, as he says, " a considerably new sermon in an 
old text. Enlarged especially on the unreserved 
devotion to Christ, which the Christian ministry 
demands; the sinfulness of all selfishness; the 
wickedness and danger of all pride; and the indis- 
pensable necessity of holiness, that the minister of 
Christ, whatever his labors or character may be, 
might be accepted, successful, and saved. After- 
wards ordained fourteen Deacons and five Elders.. 
AVTiat a well of living water the Holy Scriptures 
are ! The single text above contains truth enough, 
implied or expressed, to form a safe directory and 
guide on the way to heaven. And what a power 
for good comes forth with the word of Christ, to 
make the veriest babe an example for apostles; 
while the insufficiency and nothingness of all 
human reliance, the emptiness and vanity of the 
most plausible of human pretensions, are made 
manifest, in that the disciples, in the midst of the 
benefits of Christ's ministry, fall to disputing about 
a question of personal distinction, lag behind their 
Master, and even come into his presence and 
approach his person with their minds estranged, 
and their spirits disordered to such a degree, that 
a child might serve for their instructor.'* 

Leaving his kind friends at Washington, the 
Bishap put himself into his new Spanish saddle, 



GOING HOME. 485 

and turned his face southward, towards San Au- 
gustin, the seat of the East Texas Conference, 
which he reached after a pleasant journey. The 
session was a protracted and laborious one, and 
closed on the 17th December. He stationed twenty- 
four preachers, and one was admitted into the 
travelling ministry. He had a slight attack of 
fever here, taken from exposure; but it quickly 
yielded to treatment prescribed by himself— boneset- 
tea and castor-oil. He was not sufficiently reco- 
vered to preach on Sunday; but performed the 
ordination service at his own room on Monday 
afternoon. The kind attentions of his hostess, Mrs. 
Governor Henderson, were unremitting. 

The Texas Conference, held at Cedar Creek 
Church, December 29th to January 3d, closed his 
second tour of Episcopal visitations. Six preachers 
were admitted into the travelling connection, and 
thirty stationed. On the 5th January he reached 
Houston, preached at eleven o'clock, and the next 
day took steamer for Galveston. He says the next 
day : " My work is done, and I go home, the Globe, 
a noble boat, with a favorite old captain, being 
ready to depart for New Orleans, to-morrow morn- 
ing. I have travelled since the 10th September 
upwards of three thousand miles — about eleven 
hundred on horseback; and although I have 
been on the road almost every day that I was not 
in Conference, have had no more than three wet 
days to ride in. While on horseback, had to ford 
eight rivers, and creeks I know not how many, 



436 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

without experiencing the least detention or incon« 
venience, or even having to pass through water 
more than knee-deep. Goodness and mercy have 
attended me in all the way I have come ; and in 
that goodness and mercy will I trust, with thanks- 
giving, to the end." 

The Globe had a smooth run across the Gulf; 
and the sentiment of the beautiful was stirred in 
the good Bishop's soul, by the scene presented 
just before reaching the mouth of the Mississippi. 
He thus describes it: "The sunset this evening 
was the most gorgeous I ever gazed at. The sea 
was as smooth as a lake, and the dappled clouds, 
kindled gloriously over it, flung down upon its 
silvery bosom such a brightness as could not be 
painted. And how true to the heavenly light were 
the kindled waters ! just as it should be where 
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in 
the face of Jesus Christ has been revealed to the 
believer. I have now crossed the Mexican Gulf, 
that most dreaded part of my whole tour; and 
here, as along all my journey, goodness and mercy 
have most remarkably attended me. Great im- 
provement in the appearance of the plantations as 
we go up the river : the buildings better ; cultiva- 
tion better ; plantations larger ; and last, not least, 
there seems to be a better chance to keep from 
drowning. I see some plantations, every foot of 
which is evidently lower than the surface of the 
water of this mighty, booming river, which is kept 
off by an embankment, of about the height of our 



QOING HOME. 487 

rice-field river-banks. The orange trees, with their 
tempting fruit, are the only very pretty things I see. 
"Arrived at New Orleans January 13th, before 
one o'clock P. M. Learned that the boat for 
Mobile would start at three o'clock. Took a cab 
for the post-office, and thence to the railroad lead- 
ing to the Mobile boat. Got to the railroad in 
good time, but none too soon ; and by the railroad 
to the steamboat, which in a quarter of an hour 

after set off. A most luxurious dinner of several 

« 

courses, admirably served, came on at four o'clock. 
Such fare makes it really cheap to be carried to 
Mobile for five dollars. 

" January 14. Notwithstanding her silly name, 
I am now on board of the Pride of the West. We 
got to Mobile at eight o'clock this morning, hav- 
ing been detained among the shallows in the fog 
some two hours during the night. I forgive the 
California her gaudy fixtures, and allow her aho 
to be a noble boat. It really looks strange to me, 
after crossing so many rivers which were almost 
dry — the Brazos bridged by its ferry-boat, the 
Trinity not too deep to be forded, the Nueces knee- 
deep, and even Red river almost fordable — to see 
the Mississippi and Alabama rivers so full. Had 
the floods been in * the West' I have been travelling 
through, what had become of me and my pony ? 
Mentioning my pony calls to mind that I have 
never spoken of him according to his deserts, I 
rode him a thousand miles, over mountains not a 
few, without his once stumbling with me, though 



438 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

he could not have been much used before I got 
him, being under five years old ; and he was equal 
to the best of horses I travelled with, and, except 
one, decidedly superior as a traveller, both for the 
easiness of his action, and his progress on the road. 
I sold him at a word, for what he cost me, and 
would not have taken $30 more for him, if he had 
been in South Carolina. A very pleasant horse 
was Mac ; and very lucky was I in procuring him : 
white, nearly every hair of him, just fifteen hands 
high, thin-shouldered, deep-chested, light-footed; 
bought and sold for sixty dollars.'* 

A dear lover of a good horse, and a fine judge of 
his points, is our worthy Bishop. Let the tyro in 
horse-flesh, when about to buy, remember the ortho- 
dox canons just laid down : thin-shouldered, deep- 
chested, and light-footed. 

Bishop Capers reached Montgomery on the 
evening of the 16th, voting the Pride of the West 
a good boat, and exceedingly well managed, worthy, 
to be classed with the Globe and the California. 
On the 19th he reached home: how dear to a man 
of his exquisite family-feeling such a home as 
greeted him would naturally appear, after an 
absence so long and labors so intense, may be 
conceived more readily than described. 



OB. BASCOH. 439 



CHAPTER XVI. 

l>r. Bascom visits South Carolina — His mind and manners — Meeting 
of the Bishops and Commissioners of the Church suit called by 
Bishop Soule — Bishop Capers's third and fourth tours of yisita* 
tions. 

Early in 1848, Francis W., eldest son of Bishop 
Capers, who had been for some years a professor 
and officer of the State Military Academy, was 
elected Professor of Ancient Languages and Litera- 
ture in Transylvania University, of which institu- 
tion Dr. Bascom was then President. In April, 
Dr. Bascom, who had made a tour through Ala- 
bama and Georgia, spent a week in Charleston, 
and attended the camp-meeting held in the vicinity 
of the city. This was the only visit ever made to 
South Carolina by that distinguished man. It is 
almost needless to add that his preaching made a 
profound sensation. An eminent legal gentleman 
of Charleston, after hearing this master of sacred 
eloquence, said that he had listened to Chalmers 
and Robert Hall, but was constrained to give the 
palm to Bascom. There was a singular interpene- 
tration of the logical and poetic faculties in Dr. 
Bascom's mind. In preaching, his imagination 



440 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

commonly won the lead of his logic — the poet got 
the mastery of the dialectician. His fervid genius 
delighted to vivify and incarnate its thoughts with 
the force and in the form of scenic representation. 
And in this he supposed he was carrying with him 
the sympathies of the general mind of the country, 
even though it might be at the expense of disap- 
pointing the fastidiousness of cultivated taste. 
The main fault, as we suppose, which a severe 
critical judgment would find in this inter-play of 
leading mental powers, is that it is liable to inter- 
fere with the unity of the sermon, and to detract 
somewhat from the definite final efifect it is meant 
to have. Even a poet may have too much imagina- 
tion, as was the case with Spenser. The "Fairy 
Queen** is a series of glittering tableaux, each the 
most beautiful of all scene-painting in our language 
and literature; but by their very brilliancy and 
rapid succession complicating and interfering with 
the thread of the story ; and leaving at last some- 
thing of a confused impression of the whole upon 
the reader*s mind. While in South Carolina, Dr. 
Bascom received the attentions of leading gentle^ 
men both in Charleston and Columbia — men who, 
in point of manners, were peers of princes. In 
company with them he maintained a noble and 
graceful ease, as though he had been dandled on 
the knee of affluence, and had mixed with titled 
society from his boyhood. This is mentioned 
merely to correct an impression of a different kind 
sought to be made since his death. 



EN ROUTE FOR LOUISVILLE. 441 

The General Conference of the Northern Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church was held in May, at 
Pittsburg. By this body, from the councils of 
which Drs. Olin, Bangs, Levings, and others of the 
foremost men of the Church had been excluded, 
the Plan of Separation adopted in 1844, by which 
the organization of the Southern Conferences had 
been authorized, was repudiated. The frivolous 
pretences on which this act was done, it is aside 
from our purpose to notice here. It became neces- 
sary, however, that immediate measures should be 
taken to secure the portion of the Book Concern 
which was the property of the Southern Church. 
A meeting of the Bishops and Commissioners was 
accordingly called by Bishop Soule, in June. They 
met at Louisville, Kentuckj-, September 6th. 

Before leaving Charleston, Bishop Capers had 
the satisfaction of seeing his charming daughter, 
Emma Haslope, united in marriage to the Rev. 
Samuel B. Jones — a marriage, alas ! crowned with 
but a few brief years of connubial felicity, Mrs. 
Jones having survived her father but a month or 
two. By him she was fondly loved, and was 
eminently worthy of a father's aflection. 

On the 16th of August the Bishop set off from 
Charleston, en route for Louisville. He preached 
at Wilmington the next night, spent Sunday in 
Petersburg with the family of his attached friend, 
D'Arcy Paul, Esq., and filled the pulpit in Wash 
ington Street Church. The following Sunday he 
passed at Pittsburg. Hoping to find his son, Pro-^ 
19* 



442 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

feasor Capers, who had just been married to a sister 
of Dr. Bascom, at Lexington, he left the river at 
Maysville. He miist, of course, be invited to 
preach at night. They gave him a good congrega- 
tion, at least, on short notice. He was disap- 
pointed next morning, by the information that 
he would not be able to see his new daughter at 
Lexington, since "the birds were flown,** Professor 
and Mrs. Capers having left on the day of their 
marriage for a bridal tour " over the hills and far 
away." Returning to the Ohio river, the Bishop 
reached Louisville in time for the meeting called 
by Bishop Soule, but suffering considerably from 
asthma. All the Bishops attended this meeting, 
and were in consultation with the Commissioners 
of the Church. The result of their deliberations 
was a determination to institute the necessary suits 
at law, as soon as practicable, for the Recovery of 
the funds and property falling due to the Southern 
Church, under the contract of the Plan of Separa- 
tion. It was arranged here, that Bishop Capers, 
after attending the Kentucky and Louisville Con- 
ferences, should, in accommodation to Bishop 
Paine, take the Eastern District, beginning at the 
Virginia Conference. Accordingly, he entered 
upon his third tour of visitations, attending the 
Kentucky Conference, at Flemingsburg. Here he 
had the pleasure to see his " new daughter" — the 
bridal tour having been shortened to allow him that 
satisfaction. From Flemingsburg he went to Har- 
dinsburg, Kentucky, and held the Louisville Con- 



NORTH Carolina conference. 44d 

fereiice. The session was harmonious and happy, 
and the public worship made a blessing to many. 

Apprehending delay from low water in the Ohio, 
he went by the way of Nashville and Charleston to 
Elizabeth City, the seat of the Virginia Confer- 
ence. This route allowed him the unexpected 
pleasure of four days with his family. On the 25th 
October, he set out for Elizabeth City, where the 
Virginia Conference closed a laborious but peace- 
ful session of nine days, on the 9th November. A 
question having arisen in regard to the probable 
effect upon the case at law, if the society at Fred- 
ericksburg should be recognized as adhering to 
the Southern organization, and supplied with a 
preacher from the Virginia Conference, supposing 
their case not to be specifically provided for in the 
Plan of Separation, Bishop Capers considered it 
proper to submit the question to the Hon. Reverdy 
Johnson, one of the counsel of the Church, South. 
He accordingly went to Baltimore at the conclusion 
of the Conference, and had a satisfactory interview 
with Mr. Johnson. This incident illustrates the 
prudence and caution of the Bishop, and his fear- 
less self-sacrifice. The weather was particularly 
bad, and his exposure to wet, frost, and snow, on 
the way to Baltimore, and thence to Danville, 
brought on an aggravation of the affection of the 
chest under which he was suffering. He, however, 
held the North Carolina Conference, and was kindly 
taken from Danville to Goldsboro, by the Rev. Di 
B Nicholson, very comfortably in his carriage. 



444 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

The session of the South Carolina Conference 
was held at Spartanburg, and, for the first time, in 
one of the mountain districts of the State. The 
weather was fine, and a large number of persons 
attended from the surrounding country. The im- 
pression made by the Conference was fine, and a 
short and very pleasant session was closed with a 
peculiarly appropriate tmd impressive address from 
Bishop Capers. 

At the Georgia Conference, he found himself so 
unwell as not to be able to occupy the President's 
chair on Friday and Saturday. A genial change 
in the weather, however, allowed him to attend on 
Sunday morning to the ordination services, after 
Dr. Lovick Pierce had preached a sermon very ap- 
propriate to the occasion. This session was held 
in Augusta ; and there were twenty-three preachers 
admitted into the travelling connection. 

The Florida Conference, which ended Bishop 
Capers's present route of visitations, was held at 
Albany, and closed on the 5th February. He was 
able to preside in tolerably good health. Previously 
to his setting out for Florida, his daughter, Sarah 
Ann, was married to Mr. W. M. Sage, a young 
merchant of Charleston. 

In March, he dedicated a Methodist church 
edifice in the town of Beaufort, South Carolina. 
This visit throughout was one of great satisfaction. 
His health was improving with the opening of 
spring. The air was fragrant with the perfume of 
the jasmine ; and being accompanied in the same 



DEDICATION AT BEAUFORT. 445 

carriage by two attached friends, each a good lis- 
tener, the Bishop developed all his charming 
powers of conversation. The dedication sermon 
which he preached was highly appropriate to the 
time and circumstances. His text was the follow- 
ing: "For we stretch not ourselves beyond our 
measure, as though we reached not unto you ; for 
we are come as far as to you also, in preaching the 
gospel of Christ." The town being made up prin- 
cipally of planters' residences, with an intelligent 
though not large population, divided in their reli- 
gious preferences between the Episcopalian and 
Baptist denominations, there had been but little 
opening for the erection of a Methodist church, 
although the Methodist missionaries had been en- 
gaged for several years in preaching to the blacks 
on the neighboring islands. A successful effort, 
however, had been made to build a church, by the 
Rev. D. D. Cox, then in charge of the missionary 
work. In preaching on the text just mentioned, 
Bishop Capers maintained that Methodism did not 
seek to interfere with established religious organ- 
izations ; was abhorrent of the sectarian spirit, in 
the offensive sense of that tenn ; never aimed at 
proselytism. Nevertheless, it had a mission even 
in a small community where other churches were 
planted, inasmuch as there were always persons and 
families in such a community who might be 
reached and benefited bj' its peculiar instrument- 
alities, who had not, in point of fact, been brought 
into other communions. And what though this 



446 LIFE OF WILIilAM. CAPERS. 

class might not embrace many of the rich, refined, 
or highly-educated ? It was the glory of Christ's 
gospel that it held a different point of view from 
that which worldly wisdom might have suggested, 
for its operations. It began at the bottom and 
worked upwards: the other would fain begin at 
the top and work downwards. The measure of 
Methodism stretched to all unoccupie'd ground; 
and its results, in fact, had never been confined 
within the mere limits of its own peculiar organ- 
ization. It went for the revival and spread of 
spiritual religion everywhere; and many of its 
fruits were seen adorning the enclosures of other 
communions — lost, indeed, to Methodism, but that 
was no great matter, if they were gained to heaven 
in the end. These salient points were enlarged 
upon with a richness of illustration and a strength 
of appeal, in keeping with his high reputation as 
a preacher, and made the occasion one of great 
interest. 

The state of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
South, as reported in the general minutes, published 
early in 1849, presented a gratifying picture of 
prosperity and advancement. There were in the 
connectional union nineteen Annual Conferences, 
four Bishops, one thousand four hundred and 
seventy-six travelling preachers, three thousand 
and twenty-six local preachers, and in the member- 
ship of the Church four hundred and ninety-one 
thousand seven hundred and eighty-six whites, iand 
oii.e hundred and thirty-four thousand one hundred 



EPISCOPAL VISITATIONS. 447 

and fifty-three colored, and three thousand three 
hundred and seventy-five Indians — exhibiting an 
increase upon the returns of the previous year of 
twenty-six thousand two hundred and thirty-three. 
The Southern organization was surely able to take 
care of itself, by the blessing of God ; and that tie 
Divine blessing rested upon it was shown by its 
vigorous growth. Its preachers were doing evangel- 
ical work — not mixing themselves up with political 
affairs, not drawn aside from their proper vocation 
by schemes of pseudo philanthropy. Their zeal was 
not the fire of fanaticism, but a solemn, tender con- 
cern for the salvation of men's souls ; their exclu- 
sive business was "to preach the unsearchable 
riches of Christ." 

Bishop Capers left home on his fourth round of 
Episcopal visitations late in August. He reached 
Nashville on Saturday evening, September 1st, and 
preached at McKendree Church next morning. 
The da}'^ after, he paid a visit to Bishop Soule. He 
reached Louisville on the 6th, nothing injured by 
travelling, but rather " braced up/' He attended 
in succession the Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee, 
Memphis, Mississippi, and Alabama Conferences. 
The sessions were pleasant in the main ; but he 
felt sorely the want of more preachers to supply the 
opening and extending fields of labor. Notwith- 
standing this deficiency, there was reported in five 
Conferences an increase of upwards of five th«d- 
isand members. The following letter, written da i?- 



448 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPEK8. 

ing thi8 toor, shows his grateful sense of a saper^ " 
inteudiag Providence: 

"After the manner of the most kind Providence, 
which has attended me along all the way of my 
journeying, from the beginning till now, I have 
threaded the dangerous navigation of the Red 
river, up and down, from New Orleans to Shreve- 
port, and back again, without hurt or harm, and 
am now, after a smooth passage across the Lakes 
Ponchartrain and Bourne, at the mouth of the 
river below Mobile. Every boat, I was told, that 
had ascended the Eed river this season, not ex- 
cepting the one after me, lost some passengers 
by cholera ; but my boat, and one of the worst and 
dirtiest I ever was on, though crowded beyond all 
probable excess, so that the clerk told rae we had, 
little and big, black and white, five hundred pas- 
sengers on board, had not one case. One old man 
died on board of asthma. I have no asthma. 
What is to come may well be confided to ' the will 
Divine;' but in all my travelling for more than 
forty years, by stagecoach, by railroad, by ship, and 
by steamboat, no accident has ever happened to 
hurt me, or any one else travelling with me, to this 
day. Verily, there is a Providence which watches 



THE DESCENDIIT& BUN. 449 

thifl guiding eye aud eustainiug band had been 
over him while engaged directly aud with full 
strength in the blessed work of his Divine Master. 
The past was safe ! The witness was with God, 
aud the record on high. "Would he have exchanged 
the sublime satisfaction of such a train of re- 
flection for all the honors and dignities which 
worldly success, the loftiest, the widest, could have 
entailed ? 

The foregoing letter was written a day or two 
before his sixtieth birthday. He bad already 
touched the Bummit of bis strength and vigor. 
The remaining five years of bis life waa a period 
of decadence; gracious and graceful to the last, 
but no longer the William Capers of former days ! 
He cannot now travel at night without suffering. 
A long day's ride entails stiffness and soreness. 
The elasticity which carried him erect and buoyant 
over so many fields and through such great labors, 
loses its springs under the heavy hand of time. 
The eloquence which in former years so often 

"FleiT an eagle Sight, forth and right oa," 

has less daring in its pinion, less precision in its 
swoon and aim nerhans. His nreaching, however, 
which veneration 
be lips of age and 
re shone from the 
i and virtues of 
ade illustriona by 



460 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

80 many years of public service, produced but the 
deeper impression the nearer he drew to that 
solemn and glorious land, 

" Where life is all retouched agal«." 



BPISCOPAL VISITATIONS. 451 



CHAPTER XVII. 

General Conference at St. Louis — Fifth tour of yisitations — Writes 
his Autobiography — Illness at Augusta — Sixth tour — Correspond- 
ence. 

Bishop Capbrs attended the second General Con- 
ference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Sonth, 
which was held at St. Louis, Missouri. The session 
was a brief one, cholera having made its appear- 
ance in the city, and threatening to become rapidly 
epidemic. Indeed, one of the members of the 
Georgia delegation, the Rev. Isaac Boring, fell a vic- 
tim to the disease. The necessary business was gone 
through, however, and an additional Bishop elected 
and consecrated. This was Dr. Bascom, for whom 
Bishop Capers entertained the warmest affection, 
and whose distinguished career closed four months 
afterwards, amidst profound and universal regrets. 

The plan of Episcopal visitations assigned to 
Bishop Capers the Holston, Tennessee, Memphis, 
Mississippi, and Alabama Conferences for the first 
year of the new quadrennial term. He attended 
all these Conferences, and in the discharge of the 
duties of his ofiice was called on to station five 



452 LIFE OF WILLIAM 0APBR8. 

hundred and fifty preachers. The year had been 
one of prosperity ; and particularly in the Holston, 
Memphis, and Tennessee Conferences very gracious 
revivals had taken place. The visits of the Bishop 
were highly appreciated. 

On his return he spent some six weeks in the 
spring of 1861 with his daughter, Mrs. Ellison, at 
the Wesleyan Female College, Macon, Georgia, 
where he wrote the recollections of his early years 
found in the former part of this volume. This auto- 
biographical sketch he describes to his daughter, 
Mrs. Jones, while composing it, as being " a plain 
narrative, in which I am chiefly concerned to set 
down facts, which perhaps may be interesting, at 
least to my children.'* The importance of under- 
taking this work had been earnestly pressed upon 
his attention by several of his intimate friends, 
who believed that his reminiscences of that period 
of Methodistic history in the South Carolina Con- 
ference covered by his early labors, would be a 
contribution to the literature of the Church of in- 
estimable worth. He contemplated a continuation 
of the narrative of his life, but never added a line 
to what he had written at Macon. 

By the kindness of the Rev. W. G. E. Cunnyng- 
ham, one of the missionaries of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South, to China, we are enabled 
to favor our readers with the following letters from 
Bishop Capers, the first of which was written at 
Macon. Mr. Cunnyngham says: "Below I send a 
copy of two letters written by Bishop Capers, on0 



tiSd)1)BR ¥0 HbV. MR. O.UKKYKGHAM. 458 

addressed to Mrs. Cunnyngham, and the other to 
myself. It was my privilege to enjoy the friend- 
ship of that truly great and good man for several 
years before his death. The letter to me was 
written before my appointment to China, and in 
answer to one from me asking for advice on a 
subject which his letter sufficiently explains. The 
advice he gives may do other young preachers 
good. I have had cause to thank God for it. 
The letter to Mrs. C. exhibits some of the finest 
traits of his beautiful character. I send a copy, 
because I do not wish to give up the original 
letters ; they are a treasure I would not readily part 
with. 

<* Shanghai, China, May 18th, 1867." 

"Macon, Ga., Feb. 18, 1851. 

" My dear Brother : — ^Yours of the 3d inst. has 
been forwarded to me at this place from Charles- 
ton. As to the advice you ask, you may trust me 
to any length you please, that I will be sincere in 
giving it, as if it were to my own son ; but that you 
may equally confide in the wisdom of the advice 
given, is another question. As a general rule, 
admitting of but few exceptions, one should never 
lift a foot to move anywhere without light ; light 
enough, too, not only to see any disadvantages of 
the ground occupied at the time, but also of the 
ground to be occupied by a removal. Every one 
can see enough to be dissatisfied with something, 
perhaps much, in his position and circumstances; 



454 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

and it is a misfortune to many, that they incline 
more to ponder the evil than to consider the good 
of their present position; and to anticipate the 
good more than foresee the evil of a proposed 
change. I would choose to see, before I made any 
change of much consequence, both that it should 
be advisable, and that it should be advisable now. 
And if I could not see this, I would deem it pru- 
dent to keep my mind easy as I might, without 
any change, and wait until a time should come for 
me to see more clearly. Always see your way 
before taking it, is no bad rule of action. Better 
wait for light than step forth in the dark, or even 
if it be not quite dark. When I was young in the 
ministry, I was much worried with a restless desire 
for change, thinking I might do more good, for 
some reason or other, in almost any other place 
than where I was ; till, finding it to be a temptation, 
I cast it from me, and determined to take my allot- 
ment for the best, be it where it might. I cannot 
but suspect that in part, at least, you too are some- 
what tempted. The great matter, my dear brother, 
is not where or for what persons we labor ; but how 
much of the spirit of faith, and zeal, and humble 
love, we carry to our work. I do not, at present, 
like the idea of your changing your Conference. 
Nor can I say that I deem your reasons sufficient. 

"You have not told me w^hether you are yet 
married or not, nor have I heard from any other 
quarter. What you say in your letter might apply 
either if married or expecting to marry. Suppose 



LETTER TO MRS. CUNKYKGHAM. 455 

then you are married. Your wife will be even 
more concerned by your removal to another Con- 
ference than you yourself. A parsonage, or board- 
ing-house, will never be more bearable for being 
beyond the reach of her kin-folks and friends ; but 
the reverse. Never fear that we will locate you, or 
that your friends will locate you, even should they 
wish you to locate, as long as you maintain the 
spirit of your calling. It is not friends and kindred, 
so much as oneself, that we need fear under a 

temptation. As to my dear , whether she 

is, or is to be, your wife, she is not the stuff to 
embarrass you in your duty ; and see to it, on your 
part, that you suffer no restlessness of temptation 
to add a feather to the sufficient burdens of a 
travelling preacher's wife ; but, on the contrary, let 
it be assiduously and constantly your care to have 
her as little troubled as possible, and as quiet and 
happy in her feelings as possible. 

" My most affectionate and true-hearted love to 
all the family. May God bless them. 
"Your very sincere friend, 

"W. Capers." 

TO MRS. CUNNYNGHAM. 

''AsHEviLLE, N. C, Sept. 27, 1852. 

" My dear Bettib : — It was kind of you to write 
me from New York : to think of me at that especial 
point of time when the images of loved ones at 
home, left for so long a time, and so far away, 
must have held a peculiar title to your recoUectiona. 



456 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPfiRB. 

Your letter was most grateful to me ; and right 
heartily aud affectioiiately do I thank you for it. 
May God bless yon abundantly, my dear good 
daughter, and make you a blessing and a praise to 
thousands, while you shall glorify Him by a life of 
Him pie faith and fruitful charity. 

"Before you shall have received this letter, the 
pictures of imagination will have been superseded 
by the verities of missionary life in China ; and 
you will have begun to do with the duties and 
trials of your great undertaking: duties and trials 
challenging patience and forbearance, without the 
aid of the stimulus of a great adventure and admir- 
ing friends. You are in China — a missionary in 
China. Yes, there you are, for the testimony of 
Jesus, while as yet a seemingly impracticable 
language makes you deaf and dumb, and you feel 
the pain of that most irksome of all the forme of 
solitude, the being alone in the midst of masses of 
people. You have neither companionship nor 
acquaintance with them, though you have left 
all on their account. City, country, forms of 
society, manners, customs, modes of life, nothing 
is like home, but every thing repulsively in contrast 
with it. And still you need not be unhappy. 
Jeeus dwells in China; and you know the secret 
of his presence, and ii 
to his love and goo( 
whatever may be lai 
home-enjoyments. 1 
fold.' Yoa will neit 



IKTTER TO MRS. C tJ N K Y N G B A M . 45V 

abseDce of so much that gave zest to life in America, 
must oecessarily make life insipid in China. Think 
of home as if you were at home. Think nothing 
of that wide, wide eea; for no matter for its count- 
less millions of waves — it is only as a partition of 
joiir Father's house, separating one chamber from 
another; or like that meadow between home and 
your schoolroom at Abingdon. And think not of 
the days to come, while the present finds you as 
you ought to be. What is the diflference between 
all the length of days you may pass in China, and 
the few hours of a day spent at school ? Let them 
alone, and they will all soon be the same, and 
shall have passed away like a dream; and you 
shall wonder at the shortness of the time. Enjoy 
life by making most of what is at hand. Make an 
idol of nothing — not even of your husband ; but, 
nevertheless, reckon your treasures to be treasures. 
I have known a time, when, to have had a wife hack 
from the grave, I would have rejoiced to have gone 
for life to the remotest corner of the earth, with 
no other associate, friend, or neighbor, but herself 
alone. That, I have long since known, was idola- 
trj', extreme selfishness, and utter folly ; but, 
thank God, you have Jesus with you, to bless and 
sanctify what is yours. Be happy, then ; be always 



458 LIFS OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

go abroad, no less than when closeted with book 
and teacher. But I stop a lecture which I did not 
intend, and which, I begin to feel, betrays my own 
weakness more than is becoming, and much more 
than may be profitable. It reads too much as if I 
considered you as weak — as if you had not been 
baptized with the Spirit of your Master, and were 
in danger of fainting under the cross. 

"A thousand blessings be on your head, my dear 
Bettie, and your husband with you. May God 
keep you as He only can, from all evil, and make 
you a blessing to many. Much love to brother 
Cunnyngham, and to the brethren Taylor and 
Jenkins and their families. 

"Your very sincere friend and brother, 

«W. Capers." 

After having spent some three months in Macon, 
Bishop Capers set out to return to South Carolina. 
On his way to Augusta he was taken suddenly 
sick, but was able to reach the residence of his 
early and attached friend, John H. Mann, Esq., of 
Augusta. This was the first time he was ever 
seriously ill, away from home. But the house of 
his friend and brother, Mann, was almost the same 
as home to him. His family were sent for; the 
best medical aid in the city was at his service ; the 
kindest and most unwearied attentions from the 
truest and most loving of friends, Mr. and Mrs. 
Mann, were given him; and by the blessing of 



RETtJKK TO CHABLESTON. 45d 

God and good nursing, he was carried through an 
attack which, under other circumstances, might 
have proved fatal. 

On the 27th of May he wrote as follows to his 
daughter, Mrs. Stone : " I am still confined to my 
room and physic, after a month and a day of doctor- 
ing. My debility continues to a great degree. 
Not much stronger to-day than two or three weeks 
ago, but relieved of pain. Dr. Means, of Oxford, 
called on me, on his way East, and toFd me it must 
be a long time before I could recover. During all 
the earlier and severer part of my illness, I was 
more and much more than sustained by the exceed- 
ing grace and mercy of God, which was made 
manifest to me and for me, in Christ. I had never 
any fear, any doubt, and of course no sadness, nor 
even sorrow, though in much pain and great feeble- 
ness. I still have my mind free, and what is too 
much for me I give up without difficulty. May 
the blessed will of God be completely done in me, 
according to the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus. 
This is all that is now of any consequence or con- 
cern. My tender love to your sisters. Tell them, 
precious girls, that I have been very near home 
since I saw them : near enough to know that verily 
it is no fabled land, but the true, eternal kingdom 
of the Son of God, our Saviour, where he has pre- 
pared places for us. Tell them to live for it, and 
away from the world, that they may attain unto it.*' 

By the middle of June he was able to reach 
Charleston, but still so feeble as to be prevented 



460 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

from performing the least service whatever beyond 
prayer with his family. He held himself in calm 
and devout resignation to the Divine providence, 
saying, "If God will, I shall work; and if he will 
it rather, I shall still be of no service till I go 
hence.'* His health, however, in a week or two 
began to improve rapidly; and he was able to 
preach in Columbia on the last Sunday in June, 
and with unction and fervor. At the edge of the 
grave, he had caught a vivid glimpse of eternity, 
and with the full impression upon his spirit he 
delivered his message to dying men. After spend- 
ing several weeks at Anderson Court-house, where, 
for the sake of the climate, he contemplated resid- 
ing in future, he returned to Charleston so much 
recruited as to undertake his tour of visita- 
tions. He left Charleston early in August, hoping 
to attend most of his Conferences. The following 
correspondence presents an account of his move- 
ments : 

** St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 12. 

" To Augusta, Atlanta, and as far as Marietta, 
some three hundred and fifty miles, I had the com- 
pany of brother and sister Shackelford, and a very 
pleasant time. Reached Chattanooga Thursday 
evening, and was presently afterwards in the stage- 
coach for *over the mountains and far away.' 
Walked up the first mountain. Walker's Ridge, 
which is the steepest and very high, though not the 
highest, before midnight on foot, which, after such 



MISSOUBI OONFBBBNCB. 461 

a fatigue as travelling from Charleston to that 
point without rest, I thought something smart for 
me to do. Was willing to pass for an old man, and 
to be carried by the horses up the Cumberland, on 
the same night. Got to Nashville, still without 
rest, at two o'clock in the morning, Saturda3\ On 
Sunday preached twice. Monday, at about eleven 
o'clock, took boat for Paducah, on the route hither ; 
and going to the boat, found Bishop and sister 
Soule on board, bound for Louisville. How lucky ! 
For we were on the last boat that would be able to 
get down the Cumberland river, and to .have missed 
her would have obliged me to take another hard 
day and night stage-route from Nashville to Paducah. 
I am here quite soon enough, and with a fair pros- 
pect of reaching Fayette, the seat of the Missouri 
Conference, by boat, as earlj?^ as I wish to do. My 
journey hither has done me no harm, and, for the 
much that remains, we have only to exercise a 
prayerful trust in God, who is the living, ever- 
present God, and whose providence is faithful and 
unfailing, whether it seem to us prosperous or 
adverse." 

"Faybttb, Mo., Sept. 27. 

"At St. Louis it was my purpose to come up in a 
boat to a town on the Missouri river, Boonville, 
opposite to this place; but at the time the river 
was deemed too low for a certain passage in reasona- 
ble time, and Dr. Bond, of this Conference, (not 
of Baltimore^), kindly offered me a seat in his 



462 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

buggy, and brought me all the way, stopping two 
days at his house at Danville, and all in due time 
for the Conference. We are getting on cleverly 
with the Conference, and have no hard cases of any 
kind to disturb our quiet. You will not he sorry 
to hear that I have been advised here, and have 
concluded to give up my purpose of visiting the 
Indian Mission Conference as impracticable, or, 
at least, likely to put it out of my power to visit 
the Arkansas Conference, which I ought by all 
means to do, as it has already been two successive 
sessions without a Bishop. As well as we can 
make it out, I should have to ride some three 
hundred and sixty or eighty miles to the Indian 
Mission Conference, and thence to the Arkansas 
Conference still farther, perhaps four hundred 
miles. This, in the time allowed for it, I could not 
do, especially over such a tract of country as, for 
much of the distance, I should have. I expect to 
return to St. Louis, and thence go to Memphis by 
boat, and thence to Camden, Arkansas, as may be 
deemed best. I continue about as well as when I 
left you ; perhaps never again to be as strong as I 
have been, though but little ailing. Still, I eat 
pretty heartily, and sleep as well as I have been 
accustomed to do from home, that I could rid 
myself of the feeling of exile which so constantly 
oppresses me in these long absences from home ! 
Or if I might, would it not be substituted by some 
worse feeling? Perhaps it might; but I greatly 
fear that I am chargeable with performing an un- 



EK BOUTE TO ARKANSAS. 468 

willing service ; and what ought I not to be willing 
to do or forego in the service of ray Redeemer?" 

*' Mkmphis, Tknn., Oct. 22. 

"I WROTE from Fayette and St. Louis, to the latter 
of which places I returned as I had gone, with Dr. 
Richard Bond, in his very comfortable buggy. If 
there were such pleasant prairie roads along the 
distance from Fayette to the seat of the Indian 
Mission Conference, and thence to Camden, as 
between St. Louis and Columbia, I should have 
been able to prosecute that route without doubt or 
difficulty. Such roads, however, extend in the 
direction of the Indian Territorjt and Arkansas no 
farther than Warsaw, and all the rest of the route, 
except a few remaining prairies, lies over the most 
rugged country, and directly across all the lines of 
travel, for full four hundred miles out of six 
hundred. Indeed, it appeared, from the informa- 
tion of brethren on whom I could rely, that Cam- 
den might be reached from Muddy Spring only on 
horseback, and horseback travelling was interdicted 
to me by the medical men. The Indian Mission 
Conference, therefore, had to be given up as of 
necessity, and the Missouri Conference passed a 
resolution unanimously advising it to be necessary, 
and for me to fall back on the rivers as the only 
practicable way of reaching the Arkansas Confer- 
ence, where my presence was still more impera- 
tively called for than at the Indian Mission Con- 
ference, there not having been a Bishop there for th^ 



464 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBB8. 

last two sessions. We had a very pleasant Confer- 
ence at Fayette, and, I trust, a profitable one. On 
my part, there has been no cause of complaint ; on 
the contrary, I have every reason to remember the 
brethren with grateful aflfection. — I arrived at Mem- 
phis on the 18th ; got a horse and buggy, put them 
on a steamboat, and go down to Napoleon, a little 
town at the mouth of the Arkansas river, where I 
meet another boat, which goes to Pine Bluff, 
within seventy miles of Camden, and having a 
ridge country of pine land lying between them, 
crossed by only one small river. One of the 
brethren here, perhaps Dr. Ebbert, will accompany 
me. We start to-morrow. At St. Louis I preached 
twice on the 12th ; here, last Sunday, but once ; 
but I make up for it by having preached in one of 
the churches last evening, and being to preach in 
the other this evening. I perceive no particular 
difference in my health since leaving home, but 
only find that I am much more easily fatigued than 
formerly, and cannot endure much. Rough roads 
are my particular aversion, and travelling over 
them does me no good. I think I have ended my 
stage-travelling by night, unless, perhaps, between 
Augusta and Anderson. But what are rough roads 
with you, are smooth west of the Mississippi, (or, 
indeed, east of it in this quarter,) except the Mis- 
siouri prairies in dry weather. The utmost I ex- 
pect to attempt is to go to the East Texas Confer- 
ence, at Henderson, Russ county; and if the experi- 
ment between Pine Bluff and Camden should not 



LETTER TO HIS ELDEST SOK. 466 

argue favorably, and the information to be got at 
Camden be favorable also, as to the route thence to 
Henderson, I shall not go farther than the Arkan- 
sas Conference." 

The following letter is to his eldest son, who had 
shortly before connected himself with the Church : 

"Camden, Ark., Nov. 17, 1861. 

" My dear Frank : — I had hoped to get a letter 
from you at this place, but have not been favored 
with one. Yet I have received one from your 
mother, which has given me no little pleasure on 
your account, by the information it communicates 
of your having joined the Church. I consider this 
a great matter, and rejoice for it, notwithstanding 
the inadequacy of Church-membership, or any other 
circumstantial or conventional thing, to answer the 
necessities of the soul ; because it puts you in the 
way of God's institution, and therefore a hopeful 
way, for the obtaining of all your wants — pardon, 
peace, and the power of grace. God be with you, 
my dear son. And he will be with you, as sure as 
he has been with me. * The mercy of the Lord is 
from everlasting to everlasting upon them that 
fear him, and his righteousness unto children's 
children.' * Thou hast avouched the Lord, this day, 
to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep 
his statutes, and his commandments, and his 
judgments, and to hearken unto his voice. And 
the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his 
peculiar people, as he hath promised thee.' " 
30 



466 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPBBB. 

" I need offer you no advices, nor give you any 
cautions, for you well know that to be hearty and 
diligent in duty, doing it to please God, and be- 
cause he has appointed it, and expecting to be 
accepted, not for the sake of the deed done, but for 
Christ's sake, whose grace consecrates your obedi- 
ence that it may be approved — this and this only, 
being God's method of saving you through his 
blessed Son, will keep you in the hour of tempta- 
tion, and carry you through whatever may come, 
by the supply of the Spirit of grace, safely and 
surely to the end. Christian duty is never to be 
neglected, and is never a thing by itself; but done 
unto the Lord, its every act is a sacrament of grace, 
an opportunity of meeting with Jesus, and obtain- 
ing his blessing. Nor may the duty be unblest 
because it may not at the time be attended with 
any sensible comfort. No, nor though, instead of 
the comfort of joyful emotions, it should seem 
rather to be an occasion of discomfort. (See Gen. 
XV. 12.) We must needs be variously exercised 
that we may know our dependence on * the blood 
of sprinkling' to be entire, and to admit of no 
substitution, at all times. You will now more espe- 
cially consider life in its true substantiality ; not 
as a thing of fancy, a painted show, but the field 
of moral, intelligent, responsible action, in which 
every man is to perform his part among his 
fellows, and before God, for all eternity. Not as if 
they were feathers in the wind, where the lightest 
might fly highest, but men with souls in their 



TRAVELLING IN ABEANSAS. 467 

bodies, conscious of immortality, and using time to 
purpose. Give my love, my tenderest love to Han 
and the boys. God be with you and bless you, 
my dear son. 

" Your affectionate father, • 

"W. Capers." 

The following, to Mrs. Capers, is dated New 
Orleans, November 28, 1851 : 

" The Conference at Camden adjourned on Tues- 
day evening, the 11th inst. And what from my 
bruised condition by the roughness of the road to 
that place, and the close application required by 
my duties at Conference, I was quite ailing, so that 
I did not leave Camden till the Monday afternoon 
after the adjournment, not feeling able to encoun- 
ter the road, even to return home. This decided 
me to sell the horse and buggy I had bought at 
Memphis, for I thought I could not in any reason- 
able time expect to travel so long a journey as was 
before me, even over better roads, by that convey-^ 
ance. Reserving the use of this conveyance to take 
me to the Mississippi river, I set out, as above, with 
brother Hunter, who accompanied me as far as St. 
Bartholomew Bayou, (creek,) in the Mississippi 
swamp, where was a ferry but no boat, the flat 
having been broken and being under repair. Here 
I dismissed him with the horse and buggy, to re- 
turn to Camden, one hundred miles, and put my- 
self under the care of a most estimable Christian 
gentleman by the name of McDermot, for the rest 



4G8 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBRS. 

of the way to the great river, it being only eighteei 
mi]e.s. Passed a pleasant half day with this friend 
in need, and was sent by him, well attended, to the 
river. Passed Sunday there, at nothing, and Mon- 
day morning got passage on the steamer St. Paul, 
of St. Louis, for New Orleans, where, after a plea- 
sant trip of six hundred miles, I arrived last even- 
ing. The steamboat seems to be the very thing 
for me, where I get exercise enough without effort, 
and can lie, sit, or walk at pleasure; and during 
this trip I have been recruiting fast, instead of suf- 
fering as by my late journeys over bad roads. 
But what has chiefly and decidedly contributed to 
my better condition in the last ten days, is the use 
of Jew David's plaster to the small of my back. 
Without this, I doubt if I could have sustained 
the ride from Camden, Arkansas, to the Mississippi 
river; whereas, with it, I was enabled to do so with 
much less pain than in the ride to Camden, and 
nothing like the same degree of exhaustion. 

"I remain here until December 1st, and shall 
then pursue the ordinary public route, resting on 
the way, and probably calling* on Anna for a day 
or two. Hope to get home in time for Christmas." 



IHB ITINliillAKT SYSTEM. 469 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

The Methodist itinerant system — Its suitableness to the expand- 
ing population of the country — Statistics — Seyenth lour of visita- 
tions. 

The thoughtful reader cannot fail to be impressed 
by the long separations, the perilous and protracted 
journeyings, the wearing thought, in addition to con- 
stant preaching, involved in stationing preachers 
and providing supplies for the spiritual wants of 
large portions of the country, which, in the system 
of itinerant clerical operations in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, fall in full stress upon her Epis- 
copal staflT. To one accustomed to the quietude 
and regularity of the home-parish system, this 
might seem to be, very much, a needless expendi- 
ture of muscle and brain, of men and means. Such 
things, it might be thought, were very well for the 
beginning of the present century, and for the times 
of Francis Asbury ; but surely at the present day 
the mission of Methodism might be supposed to lie 
mainly in the pleasant work of the spiritual edifi- 
cation of the multitudes of disciples already 
gathered into its fold. There is, no doubt, work 
enough of this sort. But it is forgotten that while 



470 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

ten years ago the Western frontier .line of this 
country moved onward at the average rate of thir- 
teen miles a year, bearing the ensigns of civiliza- 
tion into regions covered with primeval forests, 
wildernesses untrodden save by the wild beast, or 
the scarce less wild Indian, now the advancing lines 
of march rush forward with no fixed rule of pro- 
gression, made up of columns supplied by foreign 
immigration, reaching in some instances to a half 
million of souls a year. Think of the ignorance, 
prejudices, vices, that must belong to myriads of 
these Eastern hordes ! They are, nevertheless, 
henceforth to be part of the American people. 
Our free institutions are to mould them, or to be 
overthrown by them. The Mormon rebellion is 
the first instalment of possible future trouble. The 
statesman grapples with the gigantic problem of 
the future status of the republic, and investigates 
the conditions under which it becomes possible 
that this heterogeneous mass may be brought up to 
the right position for self-government. The Chris- 
tian asks himself. What moral and religious re- 
sources are at command, to leaven this mighty 
aggregation of souls with the principles of spiritual 
religion ? Shall the westward march of the nation 
be signalized by churches and schoolhouses, as the 
milestones of its grand progression? and the 
amenities, and domestic charities, and intellectual 
trophies of a Christian civilization, bloom and 
blossom in the late wilderness of nature ? And if 
9o, how is this consummation so devoutly ivished 



THE ITINERANT SYSTEM. 471 

tor by the lover of his country to be accomplished? 
The answer is, it must be brought about, under 
God's blessing, to a great extent bj' the peculiar 
genius of the Methodist itinerancy. The preacher 
of the gospel, and by eminence the Methodist 
preacher, is destined to bear a conspicuous and 
glorious part in this achievement. This must be 
so from the fact that the Methodist itinerancy fur- 
nishes the trained discipline, the almost military 
economy, the rapid combinations, and central effi- 
ciency of a system of camp-meetings, circuits, Pre- 
siding Elders' districts, and Annual Conference 
organizations — the simplicity, directness, and vigor 
of evangelic aggression; and the oversight of a 
general Episcopal superintendency, directing, en- 
couraging, animating the whole apparatus of men 
and measures, and pushing the missionary column 
in the direction claimed by the strongest emer- 
gency. Here are Bishops who, to the sagacity, 
wisdom, and veneration obtained from years of ser- 
vice, add the vigor of hardy pioneers who ride on 
horseback a thousand miles on a stretch, along the 
frontier of civilized life. It has been said of the 
Methodism of fifty years ago, that " it had no ruf- 
fles or lawn sleeves that it cared to soil, no love- 
locks that it feared to disorder, no buckles it was 
loth to tarnish. It lodged roughly, and it fared 
scantily. It tramped up muddy ridges, it swam or 
forded rivers to the waist ; it slept on leaves or raw 
deer-skin, and pillowed its head on saddle-bags; 
it bivouacked among wolves or Indians; now it 



472 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

suffered from ticks or mosquitoes — it was attacked 
by dogs, it was hooted, and it was pelted — but it 
throve.** Yes, it throve; it grew like the moun- 
tain oak, in dark weather, dandled by stormy 
winds. Manifestly, it was the very thing for the 
time and country, fifty years ago. The physical 
conditions are not quite so hard now; but the 
system still has exactions suflScient to test and call 
out the heroic in the temper and spirit of the men 
who work it. Obviously, the adaptation of such a 
missionary organization to present circumstances 
is no less signal than it was to the circumstances 
of a half century since. The salient point of its 
doctrinal system is the principle that redemption 
by Christ is general, and that, consequently, Chris- 
tianity is a universal remedy for the sin and woe 
of the world. In the spirit of this leading prin- 
ciple of its theology, all its arrangements look to a 
constantly progressive movement for evangelizing 
the country, the breadth of the North American 
continent being the base of its operations, and new 
enterprises the soul of its itinerancy. Personal in- 
conveniences sink out of sight in the presence of 
great principles of action, such as these. In the 
grandeur of a purpose so vast and comprehensive, 
so many-sided, touching the interests of society at 
such vital points. Bishop Capers might well have 
wished himself young again, that he might give an- 
other life in supreme devotion to the one sublime work 
of preaching " the unsearchable riches of Christ," 
from the centre to the outposts of civilized life. 



HOLSTON CONFERENCE. 478 

The General Minutes giving the statistics of the 
Southern Methodist Church for 1861, exhibited a 
gratifying amount of progress. There were then 
in the connectional union twenty Annual Confer- 
ences, exclusive of the Pacific Mission Conference. 
The total of membership amounted to five hundred 
and twenty-nine thousand three hundred and ninety- 
four. Adding travelling preachers, one thousand 
six hundred and fifty-nine, and local preachers, four 
thousand and thirty-six, there was a grand total of 
five hundred and thirty-five thousand and eighty- 
nine, showing an increase of fourteen thousand 
seven hundred and ninety-three for the last eccle- 
siastical year. The average yearly increase from 
the beginning of the Southern organization had 
been twelve thousand. At this period it appeared 
that a Methodist journal, somewhere, had admitted 
that at one locality the Church seemed to be on 
the wane. The intelligence called out something 
like a genuine Jubilate in the newspapers of some 
neighboring denominations, which amplified the 
affair into a general decline. The demonstration 
was a trifle premature. The Minutes showed, in- 
deed, that Methodism was going down — ^but going 
down the right way, spreading its roots to support 
a wider spread of its branches. 

In September, 1852, Bishop Capers left home to 
commence his next tour of visitations with the Hol- 
Bton Conference. The accession of sixteen preach- 
ers to the effective list of the "Switzerland" 
Conference, made the eyes of the good Bishop 



474 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAP£R8. 

sparkle. Holston had already a representative in 
China — ^the Rev. W. G. E. Cunnynghani, a man of 
most admirable qualifications for that mission ; the 
Conference at the present session nominated an- 
other of its preachers for a distant mission-field, 
California ; and Bishop Capers had the satisfaction 
to appoint him. The session was protracted ; yet 
he was able, in addition to presiding regularly, 
to preach several times, and to ordain, at one ser- 
vice, both deacons and elders. 

Before reaching the seat of the Holston Confer- 
ence, he visited the Echota Indian Mission, in the 
Asheville District. There is a remnant of the 
Cherokee Indians, about twelve or fourteen hun- 
dred in number, who were settled on lands in 
Jackson, Macon, and Cherokee counties, North 
Carolina, at the time when the tribe of Cherokees 
were removed to the West. To this remnant the 
Holston Conference has sent missionaries from the 
time of the Cherokee exodus. When Bishop 
Capers visited them, there were about one hundred 
and fifty Church members, and three or four 
Indian preachers, among them. An English school, 
taught by the Rev. XJ. Keener, was in successful 
operation. The Bishop spent several days in the 
Mission, preached to the Indians once or twice, 
with Charlie Hornbuckle as interpreter, and was 
highly gratified at the improvement which these 
Cherokees had made in agricalture; and especially 
with their improvement in all social and religious 
respects. He felt and manifested a special interest 



MRS. Paul's envelopes. 476 

in them, and opened a correspondence in re8])ect 
to their affairs, with the Rev. William Ilicks, then 
Presiding Elder of the district. 

He spent Sunday, the 17th October, in Charles- 
ton, en route to Fredericksburg, the seat of the 
Virginia Conference, and preached twice with his 
usual ability and unction, leaving the next day in 
the Wilmington steamer. At Fredericksburg, ten 
preachers were admitted into the travelling con- 
nection, and one readmitted. The Bishop presided 
to the satisfaction of all parties, and stood up well 
under the toils of the session. In the Conference- 
room, in the social circle, and in the pulpit, he was 
ready, affable, and effective ; and left a fine influ- 
ence on the Conference and community. In a 
letter to Mrs. Capers he says : " We had a delight- 
ful Conference at Fredericksburg; one of the very 
best in all respects. At Petersburg, I stopped 
Saturday and Sunday with brother and sister Paul, 
the latter having attended the Conference at Fred- 
ericksburg. Sister Paul has renewed her old-time 
kindness, and I have in my trunk, silk and calico, 
and pocket-handkerchiefs. 'I have,' said she, *a 
quantity of envelopes, and I want you to take a 
parcel of them.' I thanked her, and took them; 
but in one of them I found twenty-five dollars, 
directed to me. This, I suppose, was in lieu of a 
coat she had intended to give me, and which I de- 
clined, as not needing one at present.'* 

Mrs. Paul must pardon us for publishing the 



476 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPEES. 

foregoing. If the incident shows the admirable 
womanly tact with which she has long been accus- 
tomed to do her acts of kindness to the preachers, 
why, that is known to thousands, and she has found 
it impossible to conceal entirely things of this sort, 
notwithstanding all her eftbrts. The Bishop ac- 
cepted gratefully the pocket-handkerchiefs and the 
like; but when a coat in addition must be re- 
ceived, his delicacy prompted him to decline, lest 
he should seem to be availing himself, beyond 
proper bounds, of the kind partiality of his lady 
friend. But wouldn't he accept a parcel of en- 
velopes ? — he had a large correspondence — a fresh 
supply of envelopes would not burden his portfolio. 
good, easy Bishop ! fairly caught. There is 
your new coat, nicely stuffed away in one of these 
smooth-faced envelopes, which told no tale at the 
time. Let sister Paul have it her own way, hence- 
forth. She is entitled to the queenly luxury of 
doing good. 

After attending the North Carolina Conference 
at Louisburg, which closed November 10, and 
spending a few days at home with his family. 
Bishop Capers set out for the Alabama Confer- 
ence. This was held at Marion ; and on his way, 
he spent a Sunday at Selma, preaching morning 
an i afternoon — at the latter service, to the blacks. 
At this session, the notable number of twenty-eight 
preachers were admitted into the travelling con- 
nection. The Bishop conducted the business of 



FLORIDA OONFERENCB. 477 

the Conference to the entire satisfaction of all con- 
cerned ; and his pulpit labors were specially edify- 
ing, appropriate, and eloquent. 

The session of the Georgia Conference began in 
the beautiful town of Athens, l)ecember 16th, and 
closed on the evening of the following Tuesday. 
By general admission, it was considered one of the 
pleasantest ever held in the State. A large amount 
of business was gotten through with dispatch, and 
the venerable Bishop carried a face of sunshine. 
Upwards of one hundred and sixty preachers were 
stationed. 

On the 5th January, 1853, Bishop Capers took 
the chair, and opened the session of the South 
Carolina Conference at Sumterville. This was also 
a very pleasatif Conference. Among other things 
noticed at the time, there was a donation made to 
the superannuated preachers' fund, by Andrew 
Wallace, Esq., of Columbia, of a thousand dollars, 
so conditioned as to have the interest paid annually 
to Bishop Capers, and his wife, during their life- 
time — a touching testimonial to the worth and 
public services of the Bishop, on the part of one 
who had long known him. 

The Florida Conference closed the present round 
of visitations. It was held in the town of Quincy, 
beginning January 26th. As if he had renewed 
his youth. Bishop Capers presided in the Confer- 
ence, held his consultations with the Presiding 
Elders, preached and performed the ordination 
services on Sunday mornipg. When the afternoon 



478 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

service was over, finding that his friend, Dr. Sum- 
mers, who had been appointed to preach at night, 
was complaining of sore-throat, he insisted upon 
taking his place in the pulpit ; would listen to no 
demurs on the Doctor's part, and went and preached 
with power and effect ; and closed the day's sacred 
work by administering the Lord's Supper. 

At this Conference he made the two following 
decisions : 

" It has been desired that I should express my 
opinion, ex cathedra, with respect to a question 
which has recently given trouble in one of our 
stations : whether it is allowable for a member of 
the Church, a leader or steward, to preach without 
license of the Quarterly Conference. 

" The Discipline appropriating to the Quarterly 
Conference the authority to license proper persons 
to preach, and requiring that their licenses should 
be renewed yearly, clearly implies that persons be- 
lieving it to be their duty ought to apply to the 
Quarterly Conference for license. This is the 
orderly and proper way for any one to become a 
Methodist preacher. But the present question 
looks to something short of this ; as in case the per- 
son concerned, without believing himself to be 
called to preach, as a profession, should think it 
his duty sometimes, in the absence of a preacher, 
to hold religious services with his neighbors and 
brethren, as a preacher might do. The question is, 
whether this ought to be allowed ? I know nothing 
against it if the person .be of fair Christian char* 



EPISCOPAL DECISIONS. * 479 

acter, his teaching accord to sound words, and he 
competent to teach. On the other hand, I should 
commend such a person for his labor of love, and 
encourage hira to do all the good he could. There 
can be no imposition in it, nor a bad example, as 
if one who might be a vagrant should assume to be 
a preacher. Nor do I judge that at the present 
time, and in this Conference District, there is any 
occasion to set a guard on the zeal of intelligent 
and worthy members of our Church, as if there 
were danger of their encroaching on the ministry. 
I would ralher say, with Moses, Would that all the 
Lord's people were prophets ! 

"W. Capers. 

*'CoNFEBENCB AT QuiNOY, Jan. 29, 1858. 

" The following questions have been put, in Con- 
ference, for my decision from the chair : 

'* 1. Has a preacher in charge a right, to withhold a certificate of 
membership, simply because the applicant desires to attach himself 
to a society more remote from his place of residence than the one 
from which he desires to be dismissed ? 

*'2. What relation does a person sustain to the Church who holds 
in his possession a certificate of membership? If regarded as a 
member, to what society is he accountable ? 

*'8. When a member has been found guilty of gross immoralities, 
can he upon manifesting penitence and promising reformation be re- 
tained in full connection in the Church ? 

^* To the first of these questions I answer in the 
negative. And I add, that the certificate of mem- 
bership is due independently of any suspicion or 
aversion of the preacher, on the naked ground of 



480 *LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

freedom on the part of the applicant from any 
Church censure, or objections formally made in- 
volving censure. A certificate that one has been 
an acceptable member at any place, intends no 
more than membership unimpeached, at that place. 
But I have known one to ask in writing for a cer- 
tificate, in such language as should of itself be 
suiBcient to subject the applicant to censure. In 
which case the preacher should instantly go to the 
offending brother, and seek to correct the wrong, 
as the Discipline requires ; or, in default of this, he 
having virtually waived the offence by Bis own in- 
difference, might not make it a reason for with- 
holding a certificate. 

" To the second question, I answer, that the per- 
son holding a certificate of membership is a member 
of the Church by virtue of that certificate, for such 
length of time as the circumstances of the case and 
the analogy of our economy may warrant. And 
during this time, (that is, while the certificate avails 
him for membership, and before it has been pre- 
sented elsewhere,) he is amenable to the society to 
which he belonged at the time it was given him. 
If he is a member at all, he must be amenable 
somewhere, and he can be amenable nowhere 
else. 

"To the third question, I answer in the negative. 
It was a frequent practice with our fathers, in cases 
where penitence was strongly marked, to put the 
offender back on trial for six months ; placing him 
in relation to the Church as if he were just begin- 



KPISCOPAIi DBCISIONS. 481 

ning. But it requires great strictness and extreme 
caution to make this practice safe or expedient. 
Penitence is an easy price for pardon, or for even a 
mitigation of punishment; and probably it has 
been for this reason that the practice has been dis- 
continued. The immoral person had better be ex- 
pelled ; and if he be truly penitent for his sin, he 
will make it appear, and return to the Church by 
joining on trial, as at first. There has been more 
than one Judah, to whom the shame has been more 
abhorrent than the guUi of a transgression. 

"W. CAPBB8. 
^'CoNrKBiNoa AT QviNOT, Jan. 81, 1858." 

31 



i62 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Eighth tour of Episcopal yisitations — Failing health — General Con- 
ference at Columbus, Georgia — Last tour — Illness and death. 

After a few months of relaxation at home, 
Bishop Capers, accompanied by his wife, set out to 
attend the Western Virginia Conference, held at 
Clarksburg, August 24th. Thence he went to 
Louisville, Kentucky, where a meeting of the 
Bishops and Missionary Board was held, September 
7th. Bishop Soule had not long before returned 
from California. The account which he gave of 
his visit to the Pacific Conference was deeply in- 
teresting. In reference to the missionary work in 
general, Bishop Soule said, " The Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, South, ought to raise five hundred 
thousand dollars a year for missions : they are able 
to do it : it would be a great blessing to the donors.** 

From Louisville Bishop Capers went to Ver- 
sailles, where he held the Kentucky Conference, 
commencing September 14th. Then followed the 
Louisville Conference at Owensburg, Kentucky, 
which closed its session October 4th; the Ten- 
nessee Conference at Franklin, and the Mississippi 



BPISCOPAL VISITATIONS. 488 

Conference at Canton, commencing November 23d. 
By this time the Bishop's health began to fail per- 
ceptibly, so that he was not able to attend the session 
of the Louisiana Conference, the last of his present 
tour of visitations. The company of Mrs. Capers 
with him was of great service and satisfaction. 

At home once more, the quiet and relief from 
public cares and responsibilities brought his health 
up again to a tolerably comfortable state. As the 
spring opened, his passion for gardening had full 
scope ; and the exercise in the open air and sun- 
shine, which he took in laying off and improving 
the grounds of his up-country residence, was evi- 
dently beneficial. He was able to attend the Gen- 
eral Conference in May, though he excused him- 
self, on account of the feebleness of his voice, from 
occupying the President's chair during almost the 
whole session. In the plan of Episcopal visitations, 
there were allotted him, in view of the uncertainties 
of. his health, only the Georgia and Florida Confer- 
ences for the ensuing winter, and a visit to the 
negro missions in South Carolina for the spring 
oT 1855. 

In November he passed several days at Colum- 
bia, during the session of the South Carolina Con- 
ference, under the Presidency of Bishop Pierce. 
He was able to preach once on Sunday. A serene 
cheerfulness characterized all his social intercourse 
with the brethren with whom he had formerly been 
so closely associated, and before whom he had ever 
held up a bright example of devotion to the cause 



481 LIFS OF WILLIAM 0APER8. 

of the itinerant ministry. They gaw him now for 
the last time among them ! 

On the 13th December he opened the session of 
the Georgia Conference, at Atlanta. Dr. Myers 
said of his Sunday's sermon, that he had rarely 
ever heard him preach better: his discourse was 
pervaded with that holy unction which carried it to 
the heart. Although the labor of presiding at so 
large a body as the Georgia Conference was of 
course severe, yet the Bishop went through with an 
energy which surprised his friends. Having to 
leave Atlanta before day, at the close of this session, 
and the weather being very cold, he suffered some- 
what from bronchial irritation ; but so far recovered 
as to be able to preside at the Florida Conference 
at Madison, early in January, with satisfaction. 
This Conference closed his public labors on earth. 

On his return homeward from Florida, he visited 
Charleston. His friend, the Rev. Dr. Myers, who 
enjoyed the satisfaction of passing with him the 
last evening of his stay, at the residence of his son. 
Major F. W. Capers, describes the interview in the 
following words: *'Much of the evening wate 
spent in conversation respecting his last Conference. 
He expressed the liveliest interest in the Church in 
Florida, and earnest desire for its prosperity, 
believing, as he said, that the importance of this 
section, and its wants and worth, were underrated 
by the preachers generally. He expressed soin« 
disappointment at not having received, from^ an 
officer of the Conference, some information uecessai^r 



tHE FINAL ATTACK. 485 

to the completion of the Conference minutes for 
publication, as he wished, as alwaj^s heretofore, to 
forward these minutes to the publishers as soon as 
he reached home. When he was told that the in* 
formation desired had reached the oflSce of the 
Southern Christian Advocate that afternoon, and 
could be obtained from the next week's paper, he 
remarked : * But, brother, it may be too late.' And 
it was ; for before he could have received it, he was 
upon his death-bed. He had met some members 
of his family whom he did not expect to see in 
Charleston, and he remarked it with special satis- 
faction, saying that he rarely saw so many of his 
children together, there being six of the ten 
present. They parted that night to meet next on 
the resurrection morn." 

Taking the railroad to Columbia on the next 
morning, he spent the night of January 23d with 
his old friend, the Rev. Nicholas Talley, and 
reached home the next day. On the following day, 
January 25th, he completed his sixty-fifth year, 
and at midnight the final attack came. His two 
daughters were awakened by their mother calling 
to them in great alarm ; and hastening to the 
Bishop's room, they found him sitting up, but 
suffering great agony. " Make my blood circulate," 
he said ; and warm flannels, friction, and mustard 
were applied in vain. An icy coldness had seized 
the extremities. Seeing alarm depicted in the 
oountenances of those around him, he said : ^^ I am 



486 LIFE OP WILLIAM CAPERS. 

already cold ; and now, my precious children, give 
me up to Qod. O that more of you were here ! 
but I bless Qod that I have so lately seen you all." 
Then turning to his daughter Mary, he said: "I 
want you to finish my minutes to-morrow, and 
send them off/' The preparation of those minutes 
was the last official act of his life ; and it is touching 
to observe how his habits of promptness, punctuality, 
and order were manifested at a crisis so solemn. 
"Duty was his law in life — his watchword at the 
gates of death.** A physician was soon with him, 
and succeeded during the next paroxysm of pain 
in producing nausea, and temporary relief, and he 
was removed to his bed. He then asked the hour ; 
and when the information was given, he said: 
" What, only three hours since I have been suffer- 
ing such torture ! Only three hours ! What, then, 
must be the voice of the bird that cries, 'Eternity! 
eternity?' Three hours have taken away all but 
my religion!** 

During the next day he suffered much, but was 
constantly engaged in prayer — especially for his 
family. On Sunday he was better, and sat up 
nearly all day, and at night insisted that his children 
should not sit up with him. But his son-in-law, 
the Rev. S. B. Jones, who had come from his cir- 
cuit, and Mrs. Capers, remained with him until 
after midnight. On Monday morning at daylight 
Mr. Jones approached his bedside, saying, "How 
do you feel this morning, father?'* His answer 



THB DEATH-SOBNB. 487 

was, "I feel decidedly better, and would like to 
get up, that j^our mother may be able to sleep." 
Mr. Jones then said: "The doctor wishes you to 
take a small dose of castor oil.** "Well,** said he, 
"give it to me in a table-spoon, for I have no 
taste." Being assisted to raise himself, he took 
the spoon, drank the oil, then took a tumbler of 
water and rinsed his mouth over a basin. Mrs. 
Capers turned from the bed to put aside the tum- 
bler and basin, and in a moment he breathed his 
last. His countenance expressed the utmost com- 
posure; no single sigh or convulsive movement 
marked the approach of death. Gently as dies the 
latest whisper of summer winds, his life passed 
away. Thus quickly had disease of the heart done 
its fatal office. Mrs. Capers could not believe that 
this was death. She thought it must be only a 
fainting fit, and that she should again see the light 
of those dear eyes, and once more hear the voice 
of her beloved husband. She applied all the restora- 
tives within reach; and continued for nearly an 
hour the hopeless endeavor to recover him to con- 
sciousness. But the pleadings of affection fell on 
"the cold, dull ear of death;" the immortal spirit 
had joined the innumerable company before the 
throne. 

As soon as the intelligence of the death of Dr. 
Capers was received at Columbia, a meeting of the 
ministers and members of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church was held, and resolutions appropriate to the 



488 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPERS. 

Boleoiu event were passed, together with an earnest 
request to the family of the deceased Bishop, that 
his remains should be removed to that city for in- 
terment ; to which the consent of the family was 
given. In Charleston, also, meetings were held in 
the several Methodist churches, and resolutions of 
affectionate respect for the memory of the deceased, 
and of condolence with his family, were adopted, ac- 
companied with a request similar to that of the 
Methodist community in Columbia, it being their 
wish that the remains of the Bishop should lie 
beneath the altar of Bethel Church. 

On the 2d of February, the corpse, accompanied 
with a funeral procession, was taken to the railroad 
depot at Anderson ; at Cokesbury the funeral train 
was joined by a committee appointed to represent 
the Church there on the solemn occasion ; and at 
Columbia, on the arrival of the cars at half-past 
four o*clock P. M., a committee of ministers and 
laymen received the body, and conveyed it to the 
residence of the Rev. Nicholas Talley. On the 
next day, at ten o'clock A, M., it was taken to the 
Washington Street Church, the Rev. Messrs. Shand 
and Wigfall, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 
the Rev. Drs. Leland and Howe and Frazer, of the 
Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Messrs. Boyce and 
Curtis, of the Baptist Church, and the Rev. Messrs. 
Crook, Gamewell, and Townsend, of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, acting as pall-bearers. The 
service at the church was conducted by the Riev, 



MOKUMKNTAL INSCRIPTIONS. 489 

Whiteford Smith, D. D., who preached a sermon 
highly appropriate to the occasion, from Acts xiii. 
36 : " For David, after he had served his own gene- 
ration by the will of God, fell on sleep." After the 
last hymn, and a final look at the calm, beautiful 
face of the dead by weeping friends, the body 
was removed to the grave in the rear of the church, 
where the burial service was read by the Rev. Mr. 
Talley, and the coffin was lowered to its place, 
dust to dust, and ashes to ashes, until the resurrec- 
tion at the last day. 

The death, of Bishop Capers made a profound 
impression throughout the Southern Methodist 
Church, in all parts of which he was personally 
known and respected. Church meetings and 
Quarterly Conferences, by scores, recognized the 
loss sustained by the Connection, and adopted 
resolutions of sympathy and condolence with the 
bereaved family. Many funeral sermons were 
preached, as tributes to his memory ; and of these, 
one by Bishop Pierce at Nashville, and another by 
Dr. Cross at Charleston, were published: both of 
them beautiful and eloquent memorials of the 
worth of the deceased Bishop. 

Over his grave is an oblong structure of gran- 
ite covered by a marble slab, in the centre of 
which rests a pedestal supporting an obelisk of 
Italian marble. This bears the following inscrip- 
tions. 



21* 



490 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBB8. 

On the west side : 

William Capers, 

Born in 

St. Thomas' Parish, 

South Carolina, 

On the 26th Jan., 1790, 

And died in Anderson, 

South Carolina, 
On the 29th Jan., 1855. 

On the south side : 

One 

Of the 

Bishops of the 

Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

On the east side : 

The Founder 

Of Missions 

To the Slaves in 

South Carolina. 

On the north side : 

Erected 

To the 

Memory of 

The Deceased, 

By the 

South Carolina 

Conference. 



MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS. 491 

In the Washington Street Church, a tablet of 
white marble bears the following inscription: 

The Rev. William Capers, D.D. 

This Monument 

Is erected by the Congregation of this Church 

In memory of 

The Rev. William Capers, D.D., 

One of the Bishops of 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 

Who was born in St. Thomas' Parish, S. C, 

January 26th, 1790, 

And died near Anderson C. II., S. C, 

January 29th, 1855, 

Having served his own generation by the 

Will of God, in the Christian Ministry, 

Forty-six years. 

His mortal remains repose near this church. 

The corner-stone of which he laid 

During his ministry in this town 

In 1831. 

He was the Founder of the 

Missions to the slaves 

On the plantations of the Southern States. 

To shining abilities 
Which rendered him universally popular 

As a Preacher, 

He united great simplicity and , . 

Purity of character. 

" The righteous shall be in everlasting 

Remembrance. ' ' 



492 IIVB Of WILIIAM CAPSB8. 



CHAPTER XX. 

The personnel of Bishop Capers — Intellectual character — Conyersa- 
tional powers — Religious experience — Style of Prearfiing — The- 
ology of the John Wesley school — Administratiye oapaoity — 
Family feelings — Belief in a special Providence — Disinterested- 
ness — Results of his ministry. 

Bishop Capers was of medium height, well 
formed, and a little inclined to corpulency in the 
advance of life. At middle age his hair, which 
was thin, began to fall off, and left him bald. This, 
however, only made his appearance more touch- 
ingly venerable, during the last ten years of his 
life. His face was fine, and its expression that of 
blended intelligence and amiability. His eye was 
black and lustrous; it indicated great vivacity of 
temperament; and seemed gifted with the power 
of reading human character at a glance. His 
hands were small, with the fingers tapering, and 
the nails closely pared. The teeth were perfect; 
the lips thin, and indicating decision ; the bust 
round and full ; and the voice clear in its ring, and 
melodious as a chime of bells. Thus nature had 
given him the necessary physique for an orator. 

His manners were those of an accomplished 



CHARACTER OF BISfiOP CA^BRS. 49S 

gentleman. The ease and affisibility, the finieh and 
freedom from professional crotchets, which char^ 
acterized his deportment, arose from his native 
kindness of heart, his careful early training, and 
the large knowledge of the world to which his 
calling had naturally led. 

Dignity of person, and the various elements 
which make up weight of character, were added to 
an intellect distinguished for its keenness, vigor, 
and readiness. His mind was well balanced, prac- 
tical, and solid ; awake to the sentiment of the 
beautiful ; and fitted by culture to appreciate and 
enjoy this sentiment in nature and in man. Deli- 
cacy, however, rather than majesty, fancy more 
than imagination, prevailed in his intellectual con- 
stitution. 

His powers of conversation were remarkably 
fine. He loved to talk; and in talking shone 
without effort. A genial spirit of humor, racy 
without coarseness ; an unborrowed fund of anec- 
dote ; a vein of deep reflection ; all ready to be 
laid under contribution for the instruction and 
entertainment of those who listened, made his 
society very charming. The exquisite symmetry 
and versatility of the man came out here, as well 
as in every other department of his Well-balanced 
character. 

His e^tperience of Divine things was genuine and 
deep. Christianity, with him, was no mere th^ory^ 
to be subjected to scientific and critical researieh, 
U> be matter of speculation^ and syst^n, and eon* 



494 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

fined mainly to the intellect ; nor was it a charch 
formalism, standing in a goodly round of ritual 
observances. Least of all was it a poetic sentiment- 
alism, the mere play-impulse of the susceptibility 
to the beautiful and the good. On the contrary, it 
was a divine life to his soul, a heavenly renewal of 
the spirit by the power of the Holy Ghoflt, as well 
as a conscious acceptance with God, through the 
atoning sacrifice of the Divine Son. It was com- 
munion with the Father of spirits, and a constant 
realization of the powers of the world to come, 
along with the irrevocable commitment of intellect, 
emotion, and will to eternal rectitude. In all the 
manifold conditions of social life, he maintained 
the delicacy and dignity of a lofty virtue never 
subjected to suspicion, never stained by the slightest 
shade of moral laxity. 

His piety was nurtured by the daily habit of 
private prayer. Here he found the strength and 
realized the vigor of the religious principle. His 
communion with God was ever through the medi- 
ation of Christ. His way to the holiest was ever 
by the blood of Jesus ; his boldness of access, 
through the unchangeable priesthood ; his closet a 
precinct of Calvary — a cleft of the sacrificial hill. 
He was wont to measure the extent of all gracious 
attainments in the soul of a Christian, very much 
by the extent to which personal, private prayer has 
the force of a vital principle — the fixedness of a 
habit. And if he laid this down in his preaching, 
a8 a test of religious character and attainment, his 



PREACHING OF BISHOP CAPERS. 495 

own life was strictly conformed to the standard. 
To this habit of private prayer may be traced the 
prevailing spirituality, humility, and tenderness 
which imbued his ministry. Equipped and armed 
with the panoply of the pulpit warrior — " cincture 
and breastplate, and greave and buckler, and 
helmet and sword,*' his efficiency, after all, came 
as the result of his "praying always with all prayer 
and supplication in the Spirit." 

His public prayers bore the impress of the pri- 
vate devotional fervor. They were eminently 
spiritual, comprehensive, and edifj^ing: as far re- 
moved from any affected magniloquence of words 
as from stiff formality or solemn dulness.. Here, 
too, it was observable how the expiation of the 
cross formed the great plea, was urged as the sole 
reason for the bestowment of the Divine mercy and 
grace. This gave scope and compass to his peti- 
tions ; winged the words of intercession ; warmed 
the holy fervor of thanksgiving ; and sent up his 
voice to heaven in the acclamation of adoring 
praise — "Worthy is the Lamb.*' 

His preaching was always and strictly extempo- 
raneous, as distinguished from manuscript reading, 
and memoriter preparation. He never used notes 
of any kind; and probably never, in the whole 
course of his ministry, drew up a half- dozen out- 
lines. It by no means follows from this, that he 
did not make his discourses matter of deep and 
concentrated reflection, before their delivery. This 
be unquestionably did. But his preparation con- 



196 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPBBd. 

cerned itself principally with the sabstance, veiy 
remotely with the form, probably never with the 
mere verbiage of the sermon. His ordinary prac 
tice discarded divisions and subdivisions altogether. 
His method of treatment was peculiarly his own; 
elaborated from some salient point in the subject ; 
bound into unity by the subtile affinities of thought 
developing thought ; and leaving fresh and distinct 
upon the mind of the listener the impression of 
some leading truth or duty. A very special fluency 
in utterance, the intuitive perception of the right 
words, ease of movement, refinement and elegance 
of manner, and a chaste and finished delivery, 
characterized his preaching. Occasionally he fell 
below his usual level of vigorous thought; but 
even then, the commonplaces of the pulpit, delivered 
by his eloquent voice, charmed the popular ear. 
Sometimes he rose above that level, and then the 
intellectualist was struck with the freshness and 
affluence of his ideas, with the force which vitalized 
his conceptions. In his ordinary preaching, a flash 
of unexpected light would frequently be thrown 
upon some important point in the discussion ; the 
latent power or beauty of a word would be brought 
out ; and you would be reminded of the saying of 
one of the old writers : " I will honor sacred eto- 
qttence in her plain trim ; but I wish to meet her 
in her graceful jewels ; not that they give addition 
to her goodneiBS, but that she is more persuasive in 
working on the soul she meets with." His ministry 
Was no mere fhnction for doling out cratitiba aad 



■**—-. 



l^REACHING OF BISHOP CAPERS. 497 

milk for babes; it furnished the instruction and 
presented the means and motives by which Christ- 
ian men could be strengthened, advanced, and ma- 
tured in holiness, and fitted for the duties and ex- 
igences of life. The well-understood word unction^ 
describes the prevailing cast of his preaching during 
the last decade of his ministry. It is the vital 
warmth from heaven, the anointing of the Holy 
Ghost, producing a tenderness which yearns over 
the souls of men, a gush and flow of sympathy, 
throbbing at the preacher's heart, and welling from 
eye and tone, and coming fast and faster in irre- 
pressible desire for the salvation of souls for whom 
Christ died. 

It need scarcely be added, that Bishop Capers 
was, in his theological opinions, thoroughly Armin- 
ian, using that word in the sense of the John 
Wesley school. This by no means interfered with 
the play of a truly catholic spirit on his part. He 
felt how many ties of common sentiment unite 
those who "hold the Head.** And he was ever 
ready to bid God-speed to all who sincerely labor 
to spread Christ's kingdom among men. While, 
therefore, his preaching was never controversial, 
at the same time it embodied and kept constantly 
in view those great elements of gospel truth which 
are embraced by the Church to which he was 
attached. To these he gave the cordial and full 
assent of his mind. He gave utterance to what he 
considered no doubtful speculations when he de- 
clared the freeness and fulness of Christ's atoning 
32 



498 LIFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

sacnfice; a general redemption; the free agoncj 
and moral accountability of man, and the sincere 
ofter, to all, of grace in the gospel proclamation. 
He htild the essentially simple and grand Method- 
istic point of view: justification by &ith alone, to 
all who feel their guilt and danger; faith, a per- 
sonal trust in Christ, as a sacrifice and a Saviour ; 
the promise of God, suflicieutly free to warrant an 
application to Christ for present salvation ; the 
witness of pardon by the Spirit of God, the com- 
mon privilege of believers ; and this comforting 
assurance maintained by the lively exercise of the 
same faith which justifies the soul. These were 
the doctrinal rudiments which the preaching of 
Dr. Capers illustrated and expanded in ample 
variety, richness, and beauty. An Evangelist, 
with a commission as wide as half a continent, 
our good Bishop everywhere proclaimed this 
gospel. 

His reverence for revealed truth was sincere and 
profound. The speculative faculty in his mental 
constitution was held in unquestioning submis- 
sion to the " mind of the Spirit'* as presented in the 
book of God. Where the heavenly illumination 
stopped, he stopped. He felt no wish to overstep 
the limits which separate the known from the un- 
known. That Christianity was from heaven he 
had had the most irrefragable of proofs : he had 
tried it, and found it Divine. The great substance 
and body of truth revealed in Holy Scripture was 
clearly perceived and firmly embraced, and fur* 



PRBAGHING OF BISHOP CAPERS. 499' 

nished him the largest materials for his work as a 
preacher. The person and character and life of 
Jesus^ — what an inexhaustible mine did he find 
there ! With what delight was he accustomed to 
dwell upon the scenes and events of the evangelic 
narrative ! What frequent and forcible lessons were 
furnished him in the parables of our Lord ! Sub- 
jects of this kind, under his masterly handling, 
were, indeed, many-sided, and fraught with peren- 
nial interest. One in the habit of hearing him 
often, was apt to be struck with the predominance 
of the experimental and practical over the imagin- 
ative, in his preaching. Among the themes of the 
pulpit, there are some which belong to the loftiest 
walks of human thought in the region of the trans- 
cendental. An ineffable grandeur invests them. 
Their innate majesty kindles the imagination. 
Skilfully presented, they touch the soul with 
deepest awe and admiration. The human spirit 
stands uncovered in the presence of a glory so 
dread and supernal. But the class of susceptibili- 
ties meant to be chiefly affected by the gospel, lies 
in another direction. Man's great business with 
the gospel is to find a Saviour there. The main 
questions every sermon should propose to answer 
are, How may sin be pardoned ? how may its power 
be broken, its pollution removed ? how may the new 
obedience which springs from loyal love to God in 
Christ be achieved? how may the principle of 
holiness be strengthened and rendered dominant 
in the soul? Questions like these are of tho 



500 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

deepest import to the soul awake to its real moral 
condition, its tremendous destiny in the life to 
come. The solemn function and office of Christ- 
ian preaching was ordained to meet these. And 
whatever splendor of native endowment, whatever 
breadth of learning, or quickness of insight, or 
power of dramatic representation the preacher may 
possess, all of real vitality and significance which 
belongs to these qualities of mind is found in their 
concentration upon the grand simplicities of the 
gospel; in their being made tributary to one 
sublime end, the salvation of men for whom the 
Son of God became incarnate and died upon the 
cross. 

In administrative ability in the episcopal office, 
Bishop Capers was not remarkable, though he 
held a respectable rank with colleagues who are 
justly regarded as eminent in this department of 
ecclesiastical service. He never made parliamentary 
rules matter of special study, and was inclined, in 
the early part of his administration, rather to ignore 
them in favor of primitive usage, when he presided 
in an Annual Conference. A larger experience 
corrected this view; and his second quadrennial 
term showed a constantly growing improvement. 
His general course was marked with dignity and 
courtesy ; and if at any time he became for a mo- 
ment fretful, it might be set down to the effect of 
bad health on a temperament peculiarly nervous. 
His addresses to candidates for membership in the 
Conferences, and at the reading out of the appoint- 



EPISCOPAL ADMINISTRATION. 501 

ments, were always solemn and appropriate ; in 
many instances, highly felicitous. In the station- 
ing-room he always sought and' was open to the 
judgment and counsel of the Presiding Elders; 
never exhibiting any consciousness of superior 
sagacity — least of all any exercise of arbitrary 
power; but, earnestly imploring the Divine guid- 
ance, and availing himself of the best lights access- 
ible, he discharged the eminently delicate duty of 
making out the appointments. While presiding 
at one of the sessions of the Georgia Conference, 
an embarrassment arose in the stationing-room, in 
regard to the appointment of one of the preachers. 
Things were left at a dead-lock, when the Presiding 
Elders retired. The next morning, Bishop Capers 
took occasion, without mentioning names or par- 
ticulars, to say to the Conference that Providential 
guidance was very much needed in a case which, 
the night before, had greatly perplexed his advisers 
and himself; and that having entire confidence in 
the efficacy of prayer to secure the light and aid 
from God which were wanted, in a matter that con- 
cerned his cause and kingdom on earth, the earnest 
and special prayers of the Conference were asked, 
in order that they might be rightly directed in the 
present instance. The incident illustrates his pre- 
vailing tone of thought and feeling, in the discharge 
of the weighty responsibilities of his office. 

It is hardly necessary to say, that he regarded 
the Episcopate in the Methodist Church as a fun(s 



502 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPBE8. 

tiou of government and ministration, an order jure 
ecclesiasiieo, conferred by election and ordination, 
and not a Diviile-right prerogative of a falsely 
called priesthood. As he thoroughly eliminated 
from his views of the Christian ministry the priestly 
element, he had no possible use for the priestly 
virtue^ supposed to be mysteriously conveyed in the 
so-called Apostolical Succession, and claimed by 
the Romanists as necessary to the validity of minis- 
terial acts. In this view of priestcraft, which is 
the essence of Popery, he agreed with the great 
body of Protestant Christians. 

Bishop Capers was a man of strong family feel- 
ings. No one could enjoy home more than he. 
But for the last fifteen years of his life, we have 
seen how perpetually he was called to endure long 
periods of separation from his family. We have 
seen, also, how paramount was the principle oiduty 
with him. When the time to set off for an appoint- 
ment came, he broke away resolutely from the 
charmed circle, holding every personal feeling in 
abeyance. In one of his letters from Texas, he 
says to Mrs. Capers : " The most trying time of 
the whole period of a long absence from home, is 
that which comes when, business fully done, there 
is nothing remaining but to return. I find it will 
not answer to dwell in anticipation at all ; but the 
best I can do is to occupy my thoughts with the 
kindness of Providence in the past, and so school 
myself down to patience as an exercise of gratitude. 



PAE£NTAL AFFECTIO'N. 508 

In Missouri, in the Indian Territory, in Arkansas, I 
would indulge, and often did, in reveries of home, 
without restlessness, and even with entire com- 
posure; but then, there was much time to pass, 
and much of my duty to be performed, before I 
might set my face homeward ; and the communion 
of home stood more in recollection than anticipa- 
tion. Time before me held out a Conference or 
Conferences to attend, weighty responsibilities to 
be met, holy duties to be performed, before home 
might be enjoyed ; and these I would never pass 
or skip; but they stood ever before me, thank 
God, not as the cherubim, with a fiery sword, but 
rather as covenant pledges of fidelity to my Lord, 
which I should love to redeem, before I might 
think of coming in from the field, and sitting down 
to meat. We are poor creatures, unprofitable 
servants, after all." 

Few parents are to be found, fonder of their 
children than he. In his letters when absent from 
home, he always sends kisses to each of them. 
He often wrote to them. The following are speci- 
mens of his correspondence with them. To his 
youngest daughter, at that time just learning to 
read, he sends the following gem : 

" My very dear little daughter Mary : — When 
Pa thought he would send the lines in a letter from 
Memphis to Emma, his next thought was, what 
he should send to his little Mary ; and then he sat 
down and wrote these : 



504 LIFE OF WILLIAM GAPSBB. 

And what shall Mary be, 

If Emma is the Rose ? 
For Mary — ^let me see — 

What flower of flowers grows ? 

It must be yery sweet, 

And very pretty too ; 
A flower right hard to beat, 

I hold to Mary due. 

The Rose to Emma's given; 

To Mary, all the rest / 
And let them both send up to heaven 

A perfume ever blessed. 

Be a dear, sweet child, and keep Ma pleased all the 
time till I come home again. Tell brothers Henry 
and Ellison to be good boys, and never forget their 
prayers. God bless you, my dear little daughter. 

" Your aflfectionate father, 

"W. Capers. 

"Mat 21, 1841." 

To his youngest son, Theodotus, then a lad just 
old enough to be sent off from home to the Cokes- 
bury School, he writes, August 7, 1853 : 

" My dear son : — When we parted, on your first 
experiment of being from home at a boarding-school, 
I dare say we both felt more than we were disposed 
to have known. It was owing to sheer absence 
(whatever may have been the cause of that absence) 
that I did not put into your hand a little money. 
I send you your first purse, to be disbursed accord- 
ing to your own discretion, in the form of two five^ 
dollar bills; and with the advice that, for yoiir 



CHILDREN OF BISHOP CAPERS. 605 

own satisfaction in future, more than my own, you 
will keep regular memoranda of how j^ou expend 
every fourpence of it. Begin with your beginning 
in this way, and if you continue the same practice 
through life, it will be all the better for you. May 
God bless you, my dear boy. I have high hope of 
you ; and confident of your self-respect and readi- 
ness to improve your time to better purpose than 
youthful fun and frolic. I shall be sadly disap- 
pointed if I do not hear the best account of you, if 
it shall please God to keep me, as hitherto, through 
the journeys of the residue of the year. Xever be 
cast down. . Be assured that a worthy and valuable 
life can hardly be possible without no little of the 
severities of trial and self-denial, which you, like 
every other person, must feel to be painful in the 
experience of them. Use your time, keep your 
conscience tender, fear God, and grow to be an 
honor and a blessing." 

In a preceding page the death of the Bishop's 
daughter, Mrs. Jones, has been mentioned. His 
daughter Anna, who was married to the Rev. Dr. 
Ellison, a gentleman of high worth, died in 1857, 
in the joyful hope of eternal life. Dr. Capers*s 
youngest daughter, Mary, is the wife of Professor 
Stevens, of the South Carolina Military Academy. 
His son Henry Dickson is a practicing physician 
it Auburn, Alabama, with fine prospects of dis- 
tinction in his profession, and has been married to 
he daughter of Dr. A. Means, of Oxford, Georgia. 
22 



506 lilFB OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

His next son, Ellison, is expected to enter the min- 
istry in the South Carolina Conference ; and the 
youngest son, Theodotus, is at present a student 
matriculated at Wofford College. The Bishop's 
domestic relations were exceedingly happy; and 
while his children revere the memory of such a 
father, they bid fair to be an honor to his name. 

Trust in God was a strong, practical principle 
with Bishop Capers. He was a firm believer in the 
Christian doctrine of a special Providence. He 
saw distinctly the proper medium between the 
enthusiastic extreme, on the one hand, of expecting 
miraculous interpositions, and the rationalistic ex- 
treme, on the other, of shutting up the Divine 
agency in fixed laws and an uninterrupted, neces- 
sitated order in the sequences of nature. He saw 
how the Absolute, the great Author of natural 
laws, could, without disturbing the settled order of 
the physical world, leave himself, in the multitude 
of contingencies at his disposal, ample room for the 
exercise of a fatherly care over those who put their 
trust in him. How often had he realized the fact 
that fervent prayer brought actual spiritual influ- 
ence upon the soul ! If God, as free Personality, 
absolved from any chain of nature's eflfects and 
causes, could come thus nigh to his creatures in the 
manifestations of his grace, without miracle, and 
ii. full accordance with the principles and laws of 
his august administration, why should it be doubted 
that he is both able and willing to make all out- 
ward things tributary to our real well-being? aud 



SCHEME OP PROVIDENCE. 607 

that, too, without suspending or interrupting the 
course of nature. A thing is said to be accidental; 
not that it happened without an adequate cause, 
but that we know not why the cause of its hap- 
pening should have come into operation just then. 
But the Divine agency pervading the whole life of 
things, can and does arrange, in the complications 
of natural phenomena, these accidental things, so 
that they touch us and affect us, just at the right 
time and in the right >vay to answer the Divine 
purpose. 

John Fletcher — a name illustrious in the great 
Methodistic movement — had entered the military 
service of Portugal, when a young man, and was on 
the eve of embarking for Brazil, when a servant 
accidentaUy overturned a kettle of boiling water on 
his leg. He was left behind on the sick-list. This 
trifling so-called accident was in the hand of a 
special Providence the instrument of a change in 
his whole destiny. After his recovery, he sought 
active service in Holland; but peace was declared, 
and he passed into England, where he was con- 
verted to God, and became one of the leaders in 
the great revival of the eighteenth century. What 
thoughtful, religious, man can review the events of 
his own life without perceiving and noting how 
often the most important movements in his life- 
history turned on the centres of seemingly small 
fortuitous events ? The disposing of these fortuities 
he will, with adoring gratitude, refer to the special 
providence of his Heavenly Father, whose eyes are 



508 LIFS OF WILLIAM CAPSS8. 

** over the lighteons, and his ears open unto their 
prayers." A profound philosophic insight, no less 
than an humble pietj, can blend in the harmony 
of a higher imitj the sequences of nature and the 
interpositions of a paiticular Providence. And 
thus, trust in God, so £ir from being a blind im- 
pulse, rises into the force of an intelligent and 
mighty principle, holding us firm amid life's chances 
and changes ; giving nurture to the highest forms 
of virtue and piety ; training the soul to the exer- 
cise of the noblest qualities demanded by the pur- 
pose of life ; and bringing un&iling happiness in 
the train of habitual holiness. 

This circle of thought is susceptible of a wider 
expansion. St. Paul has a. remarkable passage in 
his Epistle to the Ephesians : " To the intent that 
now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly 
places might be known by the Church the mani- 
fold wisdom of God." The scheme of Providence 
runs through the whole intention of the institution 
of the Church, and through the whole history of 
her varied fortunes. The spectators of this majes- 
tic, all-penetrating movement, are not merely con- 
temporaneous nations, during the march of the 
ages, but celestial beings of highest rank, and, it 
may be, diversified points of abode, in the universe. 
These heavenly intelligences are attracted to the 
earthly theatre of the developments of the scheme 
of redemption, as to the point of view at which 
"the manifold wisdom of God" displays its most 
luminous illustrations, and its most profound adap- 



SCHEME OF PROVIDENCE. 509 

tations. Wisdom, and not mere power, is the 
attribute most signally disclosed — wisdom, in the 
nice poise maintained between the effective energy 
of Divine influence and the self-active spontaneity 
of the human will — wisdom, in the adjustment of 
heavenly grace to the law of individual responsi- 
bility — wisdom, in the provision of a sufllcient 
remedy for moral evil in the sacrifice of the Divine 
Son, and the condition upon which alone this 
remedy is efficaciously applied, faith in his blood ; 
wisdom, in fine, manifold wisdom, in superintend- 
ing the movements of this profoundly balanced 
scheme, in the world ; working into the Divine 
plan, and making tributary to its ultimate success, 
all national vicissitude, all human culture, all con- 
flicts of thought ; using subordinate agencies^ and 
making even the wrath of man to praise God. The 
progress of Christianity seems to be subjected to 
the common conditions of human things : errors, 
defections, strifes, are not shut out by Divine 
power; millions of the human race are yet un- 
evangelized ; ages of persecution, ages of darkness, 
ages of conflict — these are the epitome of Christian 
story. And yet the heavenly watchers have been 
contemplating in every one of the evolutions of this 
sublime cause, in its ebb no less than in the swell 
of its mighty flood, the manifold wisdom of God. 
In their magnificent sweep of vision they have seen 
this attribute manifested in instances innumerable, 
in forms as illustrious as diversified ; and they anti- 
cipate with serene confidence the final issue. How 
17 



510 LIFB OF WILLIAM GAPERS. 

honored is that man who is permitted, under such 
inspection, to bring the activities of a large intel- 
lect and firm will and brave heart, assisted by the 
Divine grace, to the service of such a cause ! 
Surely the sleepless eye of a special Providence 
must follow the steps of such a man. 

The disinterestedness of Bishop Capers, in a 
public life crowded with active labors, and reaching 
through near a half century, is worthy of note. 
There are Bishops whose annual income is fiftj' 
thousand dollars. There have been Bishops who 
amassed splendid fortunes from the emoluments of 
their office: one leaving a half million of dollars 
to his family at his death ; another a million and a 
half — "non-preaching prelates,*' many of them, in 
addition. Bishop Capers, it need not be said, 
belonged not to this class of Church dignitaries. 
All he ever received from the Church he served so 
long and faithfully, was a bare subsistence ; eked 
out, withal, by the sale of his patrimonial property. 
Once or twice his personal friends relieved him 
from the embarrassment of pressing debts ; a life- 
estate was given him and Mrs. Capers in a residence 
in Charleston, partly by a donation from the South 
Carolina Conference, and partly by contributions 
from his friends ; and occasionally some kind- 
hearted "sister PauV would, in spite of his deli- 
cacy, make him a present of a coat. But the care 
of a large family; the expenses of living, and of 
perpetual removals; the hospitalities which his 
weeding, natural temper, and circumstances ne- 



PSCUNIABY BMBARRASSMEKTS. 611 

cessitated, involved an outlay of money which kept 
him worried with petty pecuniary obligations. 
He carried often a burden of spirit which it 
demanded the firmest religious principle to sustain 
with equanimity. " One thing only might I desire/' 
he said in a communication to his brethren of the 
South Carolina Conference in 1849, "if it were 
God's will, concerning all the cares, business, and 
bustle of life; and that is, to wipe my hands clean 
of it all now and for ever. But this might not be. 
I have a wife and children, and may not be in- 
different to temporal things. But my concern 
about such things ever has been, and ever shall be, 
limited strictly and entirely by the wants of life in 
those dependent on me. For myself, I have no 
wants, and know no care.'* In the last interview 
but one which the writer of the present memoir 
had with him, Bishop Capers invited him to step 
into an adjoining room, and, with a countenance 
beaming with satisfaction, said : " I have a bit of 
intelligence for your private ear, which I know will 
please you : I am about free from pecuniary em- 
barrassment at last." He then gave a brief detail 
of the position of his affairs, in a tone tremulous 
with the excitement of gratitude to God for his 
deliverance from annoyances of that class. And 
yet, this was a man whom popularity had followed 
for more than fortj^ years ; whose talents, address, 
and tried character, if directed to any of the walks 
of secular professional life, would have insured 
him ample property ; to whom tempting oflfeps had 



512 LIFE OF WILLIAM OAPEBS. 

actually been made to induce a change in his 
denominational relations. His disinterested at- 
tachment to the itinerant Methodist ministry was 
proof against all assaults from without, all fears 
from within. It stirs the sentiment of the moral 
sublime to see a man of eminent abilities, world- 
wide reputation, and charming social qualities, con- 
secrated by the grace of God to one work in life — 
that of doing good to his fellows ; adhering to that 
work with a constancy which no toil can weary, no 
discouragements appall, no illusions beguile, no 
temptations allure ; who, with serene purpose, with 
** the prophetic eye of faith and the fearless heart 
of love," unbought by gain, loyal to the last, pur- 
sues the loftiest aim of life, the glory of God and 
usefulness to his fellows — secures the greatest good, 
the favor of God for ever. 

In contemplating the results of such a life as 
fchat of William Capers, we must not overlook the 
important and vast benefits to society, in an ethical 
point of view, which of necessity flow from it. 
The Christian preacher is an embassador for Christ. 
He proclaims the word of God, the gospel of salva- 
tion. He is no mere lecturer on theology, soci- 
ology, or any other science. His words are clothed 
with the authority of his oflSce ; and he testifies to 
all men, " repentance toward God, and faith toward 
our Lord Jesus Christ." He reasons of "righteous- 
ness, temperance, and a judgment to come." But 
then, just so far as he is successful in turning men 
from sin to holiness, to that extent he is making 



N 



VALUE OF MINIStERIAL FUNCTION. 513 

good citizens. The law of the Spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus, set up in the soul, brings with it the 
law of moral restraint, curbs selfishness, expels 
dishonesty, enthrones conscience as a ruling power, 
gives root and sap to virtue, invests the marriage 
relation with sanctity; and into the family, which 
in many vital respects is the foundation of the 
State, introduces the nurture and discipline that 
best prepares for the grave duties of life. The 
whole authority of this office of preaching is en- 
forced by the retributions of the world to come. 
Now, it is undeniable that the best guaranty for 
public freedom is found in the spread of a social 
virtue based on such principles. The strongest 
antagonist to public corruption is the manly valor 
in the bosom of the private citizen, which resists 
and treads down, by the aid of God's grace in 
Christ, the corruption in the heart: the selfish 
pride, ambition, and licentiousness which, un- 
checked, would flow out in conflict with the rights 
of others, and put in peril every thing precious in 
a well-ordered state of society. It is beyond the 
reach of human calculation, of course, to estimate 
the full value to society, to republican institutions, 
of the direct and indirect influence of the minis- 
terial function, kept true to its lofty and spiritual 
ends. But it is abundantly obvious, that a faithful 
minister of Christ, who directs his labors to the 
great ends of his heavenly commission, becomes 
one of the best benefactors to his country. Ever}'^ 
such preacher, as it has been well said, does more 
33 



614 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

to guard the interests of social life than live magls< 
tratee, armed with penal statutes, and more than 
five hundred visionary philosophers, with the best 
theories of the perfectibility of man. Dr. Capers 
held himself fixedly aloof from all parties and 
politics ; nfever attended public dinners, or made 
after-dinner speeches; did not even so much as 
vote at public elections — not to talk of desecrating 
the pulpit to the vile ends of political demagogue- 
ism. Near the close of the General Conference of 
1844, when the eyes of the whole country were 
fixed upon the proceedings in the case of Bishop 
Andrew, Mr. Calhoun addressed a note to Dr. Ca- 
pers, inviting him to stop at Washington City on 
his way home, and favor him with a personal inter- 
view in respect to the probable course of the 
Southern Conferences. Dr. Capers thought it best 
to decline the invitation, lest it should be said, as 
indeed it was afterward shamelessly and repeatedly 
said in the Northern and North-western papers of 
the Church, that the politicians and preachers were 
in council. To Csesar let the things of Csesar 
belong, was his maxim. Yet, in his own sphere 
and proper vocation, how nobly he served his 
country the foregoing considerations will show. 
From this point of view, his life would be the 
record of a potent instrumentality in the moral 
triumphs and social progress of his time and nation. 
With all the emphasis of truth was it said over 
his coflined remains, that he " served his generation." 
The direct spiritual good accomplished by the 



LITBRAKT REMAINS. 516 

ministry of such a man, can be fully known only 
at the revelation of the great day. If the award 
of that day shall be, " Well done, good and faithful 
servant," it will be enough. It were a success for 
the faithful minister of Christ, beyond all the lau- 
relled prizes of earth, to save his own soul. But 
success in his ministry did largely crown the labors 
of Bishop Capers. Many were the seals God gave 
to his honored servant ; much the fruit which fol- 
lowed his exertions. The persons brought under 
serious concern — brought to repentance and faith 
in Christ — under a single address of his, were 
numbered by scores. The whole course of his min- 
istry tended to the edification of the Church. And 
in the midst of this Church he stood as a shining 
pillar, covered with trophies of victory. 

He has left behind him no literary monument, 
save the Autobiography prefixed to this memoir, 
tlie Catechisms for the negro missions, and Short 
Sermons and True Tales for children, written for 
the Sunday School Visitor, and since his death 
published in a neat little volume, by Dr. Summers. 
He was formed in the vigorous school of active 
life, and the incessant travel and constant preaching 
of his earlier years left him no time for the severer 
studies which* are necessary to successful author- 
ship in the fields of theology, metaphysics, or mora! 
science. This early contact with the practical re- 
alities of life, while it fostered the energy by which 
he forced his way to eminence and usefulness, was 
onpropitious to scholarly habits. He had the 



616 LIFE OF WILLIAM CAPERS. 

elements of a great preacher in him. Preachitg 
was to be his work for life. It was to, him, it is 
to any man, the noblest of all possible vocations. 
In the sphere of great labors which he filled in 
the Methodist Church, from his twentieth to his 
thirty-fifth year, the special need was for men of 
ready, keen, vigorous action^ of eloquent, influen- 
tial speech. That he should be a cloistered student, 
and at the same time a man of the people, a man 
of action, an orator, and a leader in aftairs, was 
not to be looked for. However rapid in his mental 
combinations, and original and vigorous in his 
grasp of thought, there are other qualifications for 
authorship which . he well knew his circumstances 
had not allowed him to develop. Nor did any 
ambition of the sort trouble him. His proper 
sphere of service he filled wisely, judiciously, suc- 
cessfully. He was one of the master-spirits of the , 
second generation of Southern Methodists; a 
worthy successor of Asbury, Hull, Humphries, 
and Daugherty; intrepid, whole-hearted, well- 
poised, strong in influence that had been nobly 
won by great labors ; a doer of things worthy to be 
written ; inheriting a dignity unapproached by him 
who has merely written things worthy to be read. 
Having applied the activities of life to the loftiest 
uses, he has passed into the City of God, where, in 
the domain of spirits for ever blessed and glorified, 
those activities will ever move on, 

'< While life, and thought, and being last, 
Or immortality endures."