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Archives 1898: Library Fire, Ivory Mitre, and Mock Turtle Soup

From The Living Church, January 15, 1898 — 125 years ago

On the morning of New Year’s Day, before daylight, the Bishop of Cairo had the sad misfortune to lose his library by fire. A few of the most valuable books, such as the Sarum Missal and Breviary, the first and second books of Edward VI, &c., &c., were stored in a fire proof vault and escaped injury. A small working library was in the Bishop’s room at the hotel where he resides, and a few books were at the bindery. But with these exceptions, the remarkable collection of 4,000 volumes, carefully gotten together in America and Europe, during forty years, is wiped out.

In the department of Liturgics it stood, it is believed, without a rival in this country, and with few in any land. And as regards the history and characteristics of the ancient Churches of the East, and the Church movements of the past sixty years, it was almost equally remarkable. For years the Bishop has been in constant receipt of letters from each side of the Atlantic, asking for special information which his splendid library enabled him to give, with citation of “chapter and verse” of the best authorities. Now he will have to depend on his memory, for, at his time of life, he feels that he has neither the heart nor the time to get together such a library again. And much that has been lost it would be impossible to replace.

The Bishop was a diligent student in days when he had more leisure than he can have at present; and his books have been his companions and friends in times of sorrow and loneliness. He had looked forward to the time when, with advancing years, he might be able to live amongst them a little more than now, and he had hoped that after his departure, the books he had so carefully gathered might in the library of a public institution be of service to future generations.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Reuben Hale (1837-1900) was bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Springfield from 1892 until his death, and was styled “Bishop of Cairo” from the Illinois riverport he used as his base for ministry across the diocese’s southern region. One of the Episcopal Church’s most important ecumenists, he served on committees for dialogue with Italian Protestants, Greek and Russian Orthodox, and Old Catholics, and was the author of numerous scholarly works. He died two years after the fire, never having become Bishop of Springfield or written another book.

SIR WALTER BESANT takes an encouraging view of the future of the Anglican Church. Writing in The Queen, he says: “Some good people have been expostulating with me about my forecast of the Church of England. It is very difficult to make people understand facts. Let us put it in another way. The strength of the Church of Rome has always lain chiefly in the Latin races.

At the present moment the Latin races of Europe number about 75,000,000, of whom practically all are Catholics. The English speaking races number 120,000,000, out of whom we must take 15,000,000 as Catholics. There are, consequently, more than 100,000, 000 Protestants of all kinds who speak our mother tongue. At the present rate of progress, in fifty years there will be 200,000,000 of English-speaking people, of whom perhaps 30,000,000 will be Catholics. There will be no great increase in the Latin races of Europe. Now, at present, the better educated, the more wealthy, the more desirable people seem for the most part to be becoming Anglicans, and the Primate of the Anglican Church is acknowledged to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore, looking ahead for a hundred years, I see some reason to believe —from my own point of view, to hope — that in the year 1996 the head of the dominant Christian Church will not be he of Rome, but he of Canterbury.

Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901) was a prolific English novelist and philanthropist. His prediction failed to take into account the rapid spread of both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism in the Global South, the immigration of millions of Catholic Europeans to English-speaking nations, and the growth of non-Anglican Protestant Churches. There are approximately 1.35 billion Roman Catholics and 110 million Anglicans today, and proportions were roughly equivalent in 1898.

THERE has just been presented to the Bishop of London (says The Daily Chronicle) a mitre which is the only one of its kind in the world. It is of burnished ivory, with gold orphreys. On the plaques, or plates, are written in pure leaf gold the words, “Holiness to the Lord,” in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English. These words, it will be remembered, were ordered to be written on Aaron’s mitre, as it is described in Exodus, chaps. xxviii and xxxix. The Hebrew and the English are on the front plates. The lining is of crimson corded silk, and the lapels are the same, covered with cloth of gold, each bearing a Greek cross of thin ivory. Otherwise there is no adornment whatever, and the effect generally is at once plain and rich…

Mitres have been of linen, of silk, of gold and silver, and all these plain or jeweled. It does not appear to have occurred to anybody until this year to make one of ivory. Unexpected difficulties arose, but they were overcome by a little ingenuity and the care of Mr. C. Fentum, ivory worker, of the Crystal Palace, who gave very particular attention to the great need of lightness and high finish. The delicacy of the stitching required caused a good deal of anxiety to Messrs. Jones and Willis to whom the mounting of the ivory was intrusted, with the most excellent results. Both firms have done all that lay in their power, irrespective of cost, to carry out the idea. The mitre is “a Thank offering, 1897,” and the donor, with whom the idea originated, desires to remain unknown.

The Rt. Rev. Mandell Creighton (1843-1901) was the first Bishop of London to wear a mitre since the Reformation (and one of only three Church of England bishops who wore one at the time). His sartorial choice provoked the wrath of a layman of his diocese, John Kensit, who had founded the Protestant Truth Society a few years earlier. Later in 1898, the society launched protests and public meetings across England opposing Catholic vestments and liturgical practices. Creighton’s successor, Arthur Winnington-Ingram, wore the controversial mitre in August 1902 at the coronation of King Edward VIII. About a month later, Kensit was struck by a chisel thrown at his head by a Catholic protester, and died of his wounds shortly after, acclaimed by his followers as a Protestant martyr.  

“Household Helps,” a column mostly focused on recipes, was a weekly feature of TLC in 1898. Turtle soup was one of the 19th century’s most loved delicacies, and by the late 1890’s, turtle populations had declined precipitously due to overharvesting, especially in the West Indies, whose green turtles were seen as most desirable. Mock turtle soup was an accommodation to the growing impossibility of affording the real thing.

THE following receipt for making mock turtle soup is infallible: Put a calf’s head, a slice of ham, six whole cloves, a bay leaf, a quarter of a stick of cinnamon, in a sauce pan, with three quarts of water. Let it boil till the calf’s head all falls to pieces. Strain the soup, set it to cool in one dish, and put the meat in another dish to cool. The next day cut a bunch of soup vegetables in small pieces, and put them over the fire in three pints of water, to boil. When they have boiled until the water is reduced to a little less than a quart, pour the water and vegetables through a puree sieve into another saucepan, and press the vegetables through with a potato masher.

Remove the fat from the soup which was strained from the calf’s head, and mix the puree of vegetables and the calf’s head liquor together in a saucepan; stand it over the fire. Cut the outside meat of the calf’s head in slices, and put them in the soup. Take a teaspoonful of extract of beef and dissolve it in a little of the soup and then pour it in the saucepan. After the soup has simmered for an hour, dissolve two tablespoonsful of browned flour in a gill of dark sherry, and pour it into the soup, stirring it all the time to keep it from lumping. When it is thick enough, set the soup to one side. Peel and remove the seeds from a lemon, cut it in slices, put them in a soup tureen. Add the yolks of three hard boiled eggs, chopped fine, pour the soup in the tureen, and stir.


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