DEATH OF BISHOP HARPER.
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. It is with great regret that we have to record the death of Dr. Harper, who for thirty-four years- was Bishop of Christchurch, and also for a portion of that period occupied the high office of Primate. The late Bishop, by his sweetness of disposition, his catholicity of feeling, and deep sympathy with all forms of distress wherever he met it, made himself beloved by all sections of the community. This feeling was not confined to the members of his own Church, but was universal wherever he was known. He was a true type of a gentleman in the fullest sense of the word, kindly and courteous to all. His great ambition was to see the Cathedral completed, and to this end he laboured assiduously. It has not been granted to him to see the entire fulfilment of his work, but only in part. Even for that he was deeply thankful, and there was nothing which was dearer to the heart of the late Bishop than the beautiful Cathedral service. If the people of Canterbury wish to erect a lasting memorial to their first Bishop, and to, commemorate the work of a truly Christian man in a way that would be most acceptable to him, they could not do better than make an effort to complete the unfinished part of the Cathedral. . CAREER IN ENGLAND. The late Bishop was born on the 9th January, 1804, and was educated at Hyde Abbey School, Winchester, and afterwards at Queen's College, Oxford. He became Chaplain to Eton College. At that time the late Bishop Selwyn was a private tutor at Eton, and Bit?hop Harper persuaded him to take orders. This commenced a friendship which was to be renewed under most remarkable circumstances in the far off islands of New Zealand. During Bishop Harper's stay at Eton, some important reforms, of which he had been tho moving spirit, were brought about, and when he left the College he was the recipient of some valuable testimonials from the College authorities, the boys and the parishioners of Eton. He was presented by Eton College with the living of Mortimer iv Berkshire, Which he held till appointed Bishop oi Christchurch. During the time he held this living he took private pupils, among whom were several who became eminent in after life, including Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. EARLY HISTORY O. THE BISHOPRIC. In connection with the appointment of Bishop Harper to the sete of Christchurch, bis subsequent arrival, and the opening of the first Diocosau Synod, the following extract from a work entitled the " Romance of Colonisation," about to be published, gives a brief sketch of the early history of the Bishopric:—" The question of the appointment of a Bishop ior the Diocese of Canterbury, which was one of the features in the plan of the Canterbury Association, 1
was- one - which excited .a -great deal of interest in the minds of the settlers; The Bishop-Designate, . the Rev. W. Jackson, arrived in the early part of the historjr of the settlement . in the Castle Eden, the ship ..following the first four. He was not, however, cast in the heroic mould necessary for the work of a Missionary Bishop, such as Bcshop Selwyn, and he returned to Englaud after remaining only a few mouths in the settlement. Iv the year 1855 Bishop Selwyn was paying a visit to Canterbury in furtherance of his scheme of a constitution for the Church of New Zealand, and a ineetiug w»3 arranged to be held to press upot. Bishop Selwyn the need of a Bishop being, appointed for Canterbury. Accordingly the settlers met in Lyttelton on November 9th, which was largely attended. A resolution was passed to the effect that a petition: be presented to the..Queen praying that a Bi.hop might be nominated. On the question as to whom should be nominated for the office the name of Rev, H. J. C. Harper was'mentioned. The Rev. J. C. Pate, son, then chaplain to Bishop Selwyn, who afterwards became Bishop of Melanesia aad died at his post, spoke j iv terms of the highest commendation of the many qualifications of Rev. H. J. 0. Harper for the post. The petition to the Queen was sent forward iv due course through Bishop Selwyn with tht». recommendation for the appointment, of Bishop Harper to the See for which he laboured so zealously and faithfully. Ou October Bth, 1856, news reached" Canterbury that Rev. H. J. C. Harper had accepted the nomination and that on August 10th tie had been consecrated in Lambeth Palace Chapel by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bishop Harper and his wife shortly after set sail for Lyttelton in the ship Egmont, arriving in Lyttelton on the 23rd December. Here he found his friend Bishop Selwyn <*nd Mrs Selwyn waiting to welcome him to his new sphere of labour. On the Christmas Day of 1856 he was formally installed into the See of Christchurch by the Bishop of New Zealand, which title Bishop Selwyn held. The "ceremony took place in St. MichaelChurch, which from then the Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Canterbury. On the 30th December in the same year Bishop Harper, with Bishop Selwyn, j took part in a meeting held to consider the j scheme of the litter _ life, viz., the obtain- j ing of a Chu.ch constitution for New j Zealand. At this meeting a resolution was j passed expressing the desire of the Church-1 men of the diocese of Christchurch that! New Zealand should be created a separate | ecclesiastical province in connection with j the Church of England and Irelaud. Almost i one of the first acts of Bishop Harper: after his installation was the consecration , of Holy Trinity Church, Avonside, Which j took pi .cc ou February 24th, 1857. Oh the j 24th July in the same year the foundation ■ stone of Christ's College was laid by Bishop Harper as Warden. Bishop Harper moat; zealously at this time exerted himself in the . directiou of getting the churchmen and; others in the diocese to unite in pushing for-;' ward the building of the Cathedral. These efforts resulted in the voting by the Provincial Council, in the session of 1858, of £1200 towards the building fund. . The i Church constitution, in the initiation of which Bishop Selwyn had taken so pinch interest and in which he had been most loyally and-, heartily supported ' by j Bishop Harper, came hat the year 1859 to be} practically tested. f On the 10th August io
this year the first Diocesan Synod of Canterbury was opened by Bishop Harper. His address on the occasion was—as indeed were all those which followed it—a model of composition. It may be interesting to note in passing that the number of lay representatives was nineteen." From the very interesting work by Dean Jacobs in the " Colonial Church Histories " series, the remainder of the history of the career of the deceased Bishop is gleaned. HISTORY OF LATER YEARS. The first general Synod attended by the Bishop was held in Wellington in March, 1859. In 1667 the Bishop left on a visit to England to attend the tirst Lambeth Conference, and returned in the following year. At the session of the Fourth General "synod, held at Auckland on October 14th, the statute for the election of a Primate having been duly passed, the late 8.-h'-p was declared elected as the first Primate of New Zealand, following in succession his friend Bishop Selwyn, who as Metropolitan had practically been Primate, bat tha. office not being created by Synod until the date mentioned above. It was not however, until July, 1869, that Bishop Harper entered upon the office of Primate. He then received notice from Bishop Selwyn that he had resigned the office of Metropolitan. Bishop Harper presided for the first time as Primate of New Zealand over the General Synod opened in Dunedin on Ist February, 1871. At the seventh General Synod held in Nelson in 1_77, the Primate consecrated the Rev. J. R. Selwyn as Bishop of Melanesia, and on the 9th of December, 1877, at Napier, the Rev. E. C. Stuart a3 Bishop of Wai.pu. In April, 1878, the Primate left for England to attend the second Lambeth Conference, and on his j arrival in England found that his old friend Bishop Selwyn, then Bishop of Lichfield, had died some time prior to his reaching the j old country. He returned to Christchurch [on 12th December, 1878. Oa November Ist, 1881, one of the dearest wishes of the Primate's heart was accomplished by the j consecration of the Cathedral, which took I place on that day. E__lK___.<T OF THE BISHOP. The history of the intervening years up to the date of the retirement of the deceased from the offices of Primate and Bishop of Christchurch was uneventful. At the | opening of the annual session of the Diocesan Synod of Christchurch on October 18th, '1887 ,the President announced his intention |of resigning his see at the end of the year 1888. Increasing age and the growth of infirmities were the reasons which had led the Primate to adopt this course, a decision which caused wide spread regret. It was not, however, until ; March, 1890, that he actually retired, ■ when Bishop Julius was appointed to succeed him in the office of Bishop of Christchurch. 'HIS LAST ILLNESS. De.pite his great age, the Bishop tvas exceedingly active, and was to be seen briskly waiting through the streets up to quite recently. During the last four months, however, his health had failed somewhat, and he had suffered from restlessness, fie was, nevertheless, a regular attendant on Sunday mornings at the early celebration of the Holy Communion in the Cathedral, the last occasion on which*he was present being the 17th inst. On that day ne was somewhat more leeble than usual, but was able to walk home to Bishop's Court. He took to his bed en Friday last, so that his final illness was only of Bix days' duration. He performed his'usual work up to this time, and
though holding no office he may still be said to have died iv harness. Up till the hoiir of his Heath he retained. full -possession of his faculties and passed peacefully and quietly away surrouuded by several members of his family. It was a beautiful death, and befitting one who had lived such a useful and noble life. OTH-- D__TA__S. The deceased leaves" a very large family. His wife died in 1886. The golden wedding celebration took place on December 12th, 1879. Ou this occasion presentations were made to the Bishop and Mrs Harper not only from their numerous family and relations, but also from a number of old settlers. The number of descendants number over one> hundred. The sons of the deceased, are Yen. Archdeacon Harper, Dr Harper, Rev.. W. Harper, and Messrs Leonard and George Harper. The daughters are Mrs Acland, Mrs Tripp, Mrs Blakiston, Mrs C. P. Cox, and Mrs Maliug. THE FUNERAL. The funeral, will take place on Sunday next. It will leave Bishop's Court for the Cathedral at 2.30 p.m., the procession forming iv Victoria street. It will arrive at the Cathedral at 3 p.m., where the first portion of the Berv.ee will be conducted. Admission to the Cathedral will be by ticket only. The remains of Bishop Hatper will be interred beside those of his late wife in the Barbadoes street cemetery. Some difficulty was naturally experienced by the Bishop and Chapter in deciding on the allotment of tickets for admission to the Cathedral, as the number of applications from those desiring to be present is sure to be very large. It was felt, however, that the old settlers—-those who had watched the gradual building up of the Church io the diocese uuder the late Bishop—had the prior claim, and it will be noted from the advertisement that preference will be given to these before all others. Full details as to general arrangement* for admission to the service wili.be found in our advertising columns. .'•'•.