Bishop England's diocese

John Francis Maguire

Bishop England's diocese—'Music hath Charms'—Preaching by the Wayside—William George Read—'Mister Paul'—Taking a Fresh Start—Father O'Neill's Two Hundred Children

BISHOP England's diocese, as we have seen, was sufficiently extensive to satisfy the most insatiate thirst for wide-spread jurisdiction. It extended from Charleston to Elizabeth city, North Carolina, a distance of 450 miles, and from Charleston to within 80 miles of Mobile—about 800 miles in the two directions. It was from 250 to 300 miles broad. Still, extensive as this vast territory was, it was not too much so for the energy of this extraordinary man, and the ardour of his priestly zeal. He would get through his missionary labours in this manner: possessing a little carriage, indifferently described as a 'sulky,' 'buggy,' or 'waggon,' the Bishop endeavoured, perhaps with the aid of one of his few monied friends, to purchase a pair of serviceable horses, or strong ponies, and, accompanied by a negro boy as driver, he would travel from place to place, preaching, instructing, and administering the sacraments; and on his return, it might be in three months, six months, or even nine months, he would readily and even profitably dispose of his cattle, then more valuable than at the commencement of the journey, owing to the training to which they had been subjected.

Many a strange incident, and even startling adventure, occurred to the Bishop during his long and arduous journeyings, at a time when the roads were little better or worse than tracks, the population was thinly scattered, and accommodation, even of the rudest kind, was not always to be had. Frequently, the shelter of the forest was all that could be obtained in those days for the traveller. Once in a city or town, he was sure of being well received; for while prejudice kept some aloof from the 'Popish Bishop,' curiosity, and the irrepressible desire of Americans to listen to sermons, discourses, 'lectures' of any description, impelled numbers to hear a man who was famous for his eloquence. Halls, court-houses, concert-rooms, churches and chapels, would be freely placed at his disposal; and the probability is, that he rarely suffered from lack of hospitality under those circumstances. But there were occasions when the Bishop found it difficult enough to make out a dinner, or secure the shelter of a roof against the night. Even in the Southern States, which are proverbial for the unaffected hospitality of their people, churls were to be met with, at least in Dr. England's time.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America