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Galloway, Bishop Charles Betts
|We are assembled on this occasion to pay a fitting tribute to the memory of one whose life and labors were a blessing to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. No history of that church will be complete that omits the name of Charles Betts Galloway. It is a pleasure, though not an unmixed one, for us to pause in the midst of our business for the purpose of passing in review the outstanding features of his brilliant career.
He was a native of Mississippi and was educated at her State University. Being graduated when hardly more than a boy, he entered at once on the work of the itinerant ministry. From the. beginning he was marked for leadership. A brief apprenticeship in a circumscribed field was all that was needed for the display of gifts which put him at one bound in the front rank as a preacher and orator. These gifts were not difficult to discern, the eye of an eagle, large, quick, flashing and penetrating, yet withal engaging, an inimitable voice, mellow in tone, with remarkable compass and .strength, an attractive presence, courtly bearing and graceful gestures-all these combined gave him immediate access to his audiences, and went far towards making him one of the foremost orators of his, time.
He. was at his best in the pulpit and on the platform, and it was there that he had his most pronounced triumphs. His powers showed to best advantage when handling great themes of the Gospel, the world-wide enterprises of the church, some important phase of the Nation's history, or the life and achievements of some notable character of church or state. He was one of those few men who seemed to be instinct with eloquence. The whole -man contributed to and was felt in every utterance, 'so that it seemed easier for him to be eloquent than otherwise.
He read the great books and extracted from them the best they contained. His mind was stored with choice utterances from the world's best thinkers. These he always had at command and used with telling advantage. Being thus in constant touch with the Master's of English style, he acquired a style of his own which was chaste, pungent and forceful. Hence his writings and printed utterances were read with avidity.
Supreme as he was in the pulpit and on the platform, he did not refuse when called by his Church to the editor's chain to throw himself with vigor. Into religious journalism, and so well did he acquit himself in it that in a short time the eyes of the Church at large were upon him, and he was soon called to the episcopacy. Though he was a Mississippian, he identified himself, through his editorship of the New Orleans Christian Advocate, so fully with Louisiana Methodism that we counted him one of our number.
He was the youngest man ever raised by our Church to the episcopal office, and seldom has a wiser choice been ma-de for that responsible position. In addition to his oratorical gifts already alluded to, he possessed a cosmopolitan spirit that. made him a welcome visitor everywhere. If he was sent across the water as fraternal delegate to the Wesleyan Church, he so charmed his English brothers that they rehearsed to their children the story of his eloquence, to be treasured by them as a precious memory of the young bishop from the New World. If he traveled in the . territory of our sister Methodism in -the United States he was greeted everywhere with applause. He was in his prime and did valuable mediating service in that critical period, shortly following the days of reconstruction, when catholicity of spirit was at a premium in Church and State.
Elevated to the episcopacy, he intensified and broadened his study of the biography, history and philosophy of foreign missions and became an enthusiast on the subject of world-evangelization. This all-comprehending purpose of the church called forth some of his best utterances, notably his Cole Lectures and his Memorable Appeal at the General Missionary Conference, held in New Orleans. His native State was among the first of the sisterhood of the Southern States to push with vigor the battle against the saloon. Throughout its length and breadth his clarion call was heard rallying the hosts of God against the powers of darkness as objectified in the liquor traffic. He did not decline, when challenged, to measure swords in debate with ex-President Jefferson Davis, on the much disputed liquor question. When, shortly before his death, Mississippi moved into the dry column, it was to Charles B. Galloway that the major part of the credit for this achievement was given.
Though not a schoolman by profession, he was, notwithstanding, an apostle of education. He was president of our General Board of Education. If a Methodist College in Mississippi was founded through the munificence of Major Millsaps, it was also founded in the prayers, counsel, and unremitting labors of Bishop Galloway. It was he, who, along with Dr. A. F. Watkins led the preachers of Mississippi in the vigorous campaign to arouse the Methodists of the State to meet the conditions on which Major Millsaps bequest was made. When Bishop Hargrove could no longer shoulder the responsibility and burdens incident to the presidency of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University, the church turned with one accord to her brilliant son from Mississippi to take his place and carry on the work begun by that master among ecclestical statesmen, Holland N. McTyiere.
But it was probably in the interest of the negro that his most signal service to the cause of education was performed. He championed the cause of negro education at a time and in a way that would have made a smaller man falter and probably fail. But he could strike out for the open and disregard objectors, for he had reached the zenith of his career, and was easily first among his compeers. Hence none dared say him nay, when he took a position on this question, unfortunately repugnant to many Southerners. It was fitting that he should have, as he did have, a place on the Board of the Slater Fund. It was eminently fitting that, when the negroes of Jackson, Miss., requested the privilege of following his remains to their last resting place, their request was not denied. Who will say that of all the noble tributes paid him that long line of mourning blacks is not the highest?
But no one could estimate the full measure of this great son of the South who knew him only as a public man. Attractive and winning as he was, as a public servant, it was in the social circle, among his friends, that the charm of his manner and largeness of his soul were irresistible. He was a man of strong friendships, without partisanship or clanishness. It was the impact of his personal touch that riveted men to him and to the causes he espoused and led.
Should we penetrate still deeper, we should find the secret of his success to be in his undying devotion to the work of his Lord, and in the unceasing toil which he bestowed upon it. The evidence of this labor for his Master is found in his untimely death. Possessed of a remarkably strong physical constitution, he died young, with the machinery worn out, not by excess or self-indulgence, but by labors abundant.
He leaves behind, in addition to the fruits of his toil, the melody of a sweet and gentle spirit. God give to his Church more Charles B. Galloways!
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; 1909, by Henry Beach Carre.|
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