Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2003 Issue

The Doctrine of Caiaphas by Rev. David Murdoch D.D.



In November of that year our bell was cracked, and gave out a dismally discordant sound. Going one Sunday morning to church, I had a presentiment that it betokened evil. It grew worse and worse, till we could stand it no longer. There were several meetings of the Trustees held, ostensibly to raise a new bell, but they all ended in the Doctor declaring that it was impossible to do anything with the present man in the pulpit. “It is useless to call for any new thing; we must have new ‘running gear’ first.

I was called before the Trustees, for the first time since I had been settled, to defend myself. I prepared a paper and read it, using some severe language, in reference to my grand opposer. The severest was, my comparing him to a blood-hound, who had dogged me from the outset till the present. This harsh expression justly roused the anger of my opponent, and he demanded reparation. It was agreed that we should have a meeting in presence of Mr. Gillett and Mr. Benjamin. It was in my study-room. I began by reading notes from my memorandum book, of the steps Dr. Beadle had taken previous to his intended disciplining of me – the instance already noticed. When Dr. Beadle wanted to know what that had to do with present things, I replied: “You would have taken me before the church court for my delinquency: now I wish to show you, and these brethren, upon what grounds I can take you, unless I receive full satisfaction.” And I read the charges which I had prepared, with the specifications and witnesses. These I shall not put down here, but merely insert what came to me by hand of Mr. Benjamin, a few days afterward, unsigned, but in Dr. Beadle’s handwriting:--

Rev. D. Murdoch:

Dear Pastor,

--Having had several interviews with you, and one in the presence of Elders Benjamin and Gillett, in which there were mutual explanations made between us, and being convinced that some expressions made by me have injured you abroad; and since you regard me as the leader in opposition to you, I now say, that so far from being a leader, I have done nothing but what I believed was for the good of the cause of God; and now say, that I have nothing personal against you, but believe you would be a faithful and efficient preacher and pastor to any church that might call you.


The above is a copy of the paper which was sent by Mr. Benjamin to see, he said, “whether I would be satisfied with it.” I accepted of it so far as it went. The bearer took it away, and that was the last of it. The birth, life and death of this act are among the mysteries.

On a Sabbath morning, soon after this, a paper, through the sexton, was put into my hand, which I declined reading. It was a notice for a public meeting, next day, (Monday,) at two o’clock, to consider the “necessity of building a new church, getting a new bell and a new minister.” Mr. Gillett, clerk of the society, read it from the alter, after the benediction was pronounced. So unusual an occurrence made the house as still as the grave.

I said, in few words, “This notice was put into my hand, only half an hour before service. You may judge of the state of my feelings while I have been leading you in worship. I protest against the insult offered to you before God; against the insult offered to myself in your presence; and I ask you to notice the unfairness of stealing a march upon my friends, by calling for a meeting of such importance at twenty-six hours’ notice. But let every one here, who would resist the one man power in this congregation, be present to-morrow and show his hand.”

The effect was electrical, and those twenty-six hours were well filled up. Like every unfair play, it excited the ire of the American Citizen, and what was intended to be an artful game, recoiled upon the head of the devisers. The discussion of that occasion will long be remembered, as among the spiciest of the season; especially the passage of arms between my able and talented friend, Frank Hall, and the Doctor; which ended in the subscribing for a bell upon the spot, as proof of what could be done, even with the present “running gear” of the concern. The following account of the meeting appeared in the village Gazette:

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321). <i>Commedia.</i> Venezia: Vindelino da Spira, 1477. Estimate: € 40.000 - 60.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DALI, Salvador (1908-1989) - William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616). <i>Romeo e Giulietta.</i> Milan: Rizzoli, 1975. Estimate: € 25.000 - 35.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> MALVASIA, Cornelio; MONTANARI, Geminiano. <i>Ephemerides novissimae motuum coelestium.</i> Modena: Cassiani, 1662. Estimate: € 8.000 - 12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> JANSSONIUS, Johannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, Orbem maritimum [Novus Atlas, volume V: carte marittime].</i> Amsterdam: Janssonius, 1650. Estimate: € 12.000 - 18.000.

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