The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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you aint any of these you ought to be." Very similar to the feeling expressed by that poor creature towards Bishop Elliott, was that felt in the presence of Bishop Atkinson. He was eminently dignified and commanding, yet courteous and affable in manner, with a sensitive deference for the opinions and feelings of others, yet with a full and steady reliance upon himself. He would attract attention in any assembly and would be at once recognized as a leader of men. As he passed along the crowded thoroughfares, men would involuntarily turn to gaze upon so noble a specimen of manly dignity. He was intensely intellectual yet keenly alive to all the kindly impulses and more gentle virtues of our nature, a truly great man and remarkable in this, that in whatever circle he moved whether in the church, in society, or in the ordinary duties of life he exercised a mighty influence for good. His example was the reflex of the precepts he inculcated. He was a devout lover of the truth for the truth's sake, had no concealments but was open as the day, was true to his convictions, to his friends and kinsfolk, and above all, to his God. While gentle unto all men, he was never pliant; ruling his Diocese with firmness, yet with mildness, and tempering justice with the benign influences of mercy; though a leader of the hosts of God, yet childlike in submission to the will of his heavenly Father; kindly in his nature, warm in his affections, active in good works.

        His mind was more massive than brilliant or imaginative and its operations were marked with a degree of intellectual energy which ever commanded attention. As a pulpit orator he was distinguished for keen powers of analysis, sound logic and effective reasoning. His style was chaste, not florid, and more conversational than declamotory, not disdaining ornament but using it simply by way of illustration, and yet his oratory was often fervid. But his great power lay in the faculty he possessed of impressing all who heard him, with his sincereity, no one could doubt it, and this had an overpowering influence upon all with whom he came in contact. He was strong in debate, a close reasoner and if the premises he laid down were admitted, there was no escape from his conclusions. He had naturally, a clear insight into character, was a searching preacher and could track sin through all its hidden ways with unerring skill and so God blessed his work and the labor of his hands.

        In the House of Bishops his influence was very great and we have been told that he never rose to speak without commanding the attention of the members. This influence was shown in a marked manner in the General Convention of the Church held at Philadelphia in 1865, immediately after the close of the war. Bishops Atkinson and Lay thinking that no time should be lost after the fall of the Confederacy in seeking a resumption of our organic relations with the portion of the church from which we had been separated, attended that convention not knowing how they would be received. We again quote from the memorial sermon, already referred to; says Bishop Lay:

        "We came into a community exultant with victory and enthusiastic in loyalty, disposed to take for granted that to return, was to ask forgiveness. To the tact, the gentleness, the manly out-spokenness of Bishop Atkinson the Church is indebted for the favorable result of this venture. After considerable discussion the matter was referred to a committee consisting of the five senior Bishops. After two days this committee reported a preamble and resolutions. In these we could not possibly concur. All eyes were upon Bishop Atkinson as he answered the appeal made to him. He knew that he had that to say which must needs be distastful to men full of exultation at the Southern downfall. With no diffidence and with no temper, rather with the frankness of a child uttering his thoughts, he opened all his mind. We are asked, said he, to unite with you in returning thanks
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