committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

CHAPTER XII.

ABILITIES AS A PRESIDING OFFICER.

 

    As a parliamentarian Dr. Mell held an enviable position among his brethren in the South. There were few presiding officers his equal. His logical mind, cool self-control, clear conception of questions of order and impartial rulings, placed him in the front rank among occupants of chairs over deliberative bodies. This remarkable power of controlling men enabled him to rapidly rise to the highest position in the gift of the Baptists of the South.

    He considered the knowledge of parliamentary law so important that he urged the introduction of the subject in the curriculum of every college in the country. He thought that every young man should have, at least, a general knowledge of the science in order to enable him to successfully fill positions of public trust. Following out this idea he organized in the University of Georgia a course in parliamentary law that was greatly prized by the students; and many of the distinguished graduates of this Institution, who now occupy prominent positions in Georgia and other States, were pupils under him in this important branch of learning. The course of lectures began in the University in 1870 and continued up to the time of his death in 1888. In 1841, Dr. Mell attended the Georgia Baptist Association for the first time. He was then twenty-seven years old. Within a short time he occupied a front position among the intellects of that time-honored body, and soon became its leading spirit.

    For many years he was re-elected Moderator over this Association and also presided over the deliberations of the Georgia and Southern Baptist Conventions for a great many sessions. These positions he held up to the time of his death because of his remarkable knowledge of parliamentary law and his great influence over men.

    The following table gives his record as clerk and presiding officer of these great Missionary Bodies. It will be noted that he held the position of clerk of the Georgia Association for six years, and in the Georgia Convention for ten years. For thirty years he was Moderator of the first body and President of the Georgia Convention for twenty-six years, and for seventeen years he was President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

ABILITIES AS A PRESIDING OFFICER.

TABLE OF RECORD.

YEARS. GA. ASSOCIATION GA. BAPTIST CON. SOU. BAPTIST CON.
1845-46. Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................

mell3.gif (1013 bytes)

1847...... Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................
1848...... Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................
1849...... Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................
1850...... Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................
1851...... Clerk.......................... Clerk..........................
1852...... ................................... Clerk..........................
1853...... ................................... Clerk..........................
1854...... ................................... Clerk..........................
1855...... Moderator................ Clerk..........................
1856...... Moderator................ ...................................
1857...... Moderator................ President...................
1858...... Moderator................ President...................
1859...... Moderator................ President...................
1860...... Moderator................ President...................
1861...... Moderator................ President...................
1862...... Moderator................ President...................
1863...... In the army............... President................... President...................
1864...... Moderator................ President................... No Convention........
1865...... Moderator................ No Convention........ President...................
1866...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1867...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1868...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1869...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1870...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1871...... Absent by sickness President................... President...................
1872...... Absent by sickness Absent by sickness Absent by sickness
1873...... Absent by sickness Absent by sickness Absent by sickness
1874...... Moderator................ Absent by sickness Absent by sickness
1875...... Moderator................ Absent by sickness Absent by sickness
1876...... Moderator................ Absent by sickness Absent by sickness
1877...... Moderator................ President................... Absent by sickness
1878...... Moderator................ President................... Absent by sickness
1879...... Moderator................ President................... Absent by sickness
1880...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1881...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1882...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1883...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1884...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1885...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1886...... Moderator................ President................... President...................
1887...... Moderator................ President................... President...................

    At the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1867, Dr. J. P. Boyce submitted the following, which was adopted:

    "Resolved, That the President (P. H. Mell) of this Convention be requested to prepare a Manual of Parliamentary Law and Usage adapted to the necessities of this Body."

    Previous to this, the only parliamentary guide the Convention seemed to have was "six rules of order," printed in the minutes each year, after the Preamble and Constitution. As a result of this request "A Manual of Parliamentary Practice " was issued from the press, and on the 7th of May, 1868, was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention. It has passed through several editions and has been revised and enlarged so as to adapt it to general and universal use. This book has also been adopted by several State Baptist Conventions, and also by the Georgia Legislature.

    The thorough command that Dr. Mell had over questions relating to parliamentary law and order, and the remarkable coolness, kindness, impartiality and quickness with which he decided all questions submitted to him, rendered his position as presiding officer over the Conventions almost impregnable. His brethren were almost a unit in declaring him the most suitable man in the denomination for the Presidency. He held the chair longer than any of his predecessors, and his keen powers of discrimination and decision remained bright and undiminished to the last. Efforts were made several times, by friends of other candidates, to capture the chair, but always resulted in defeat.

    The following incident is given as an interesting illustration of this fact, Dr. Moll in the chair:

    "After the enrollment of delegates at a session of the Southern Baptist Convention, the chair announced that the election of officers was in order. A member moved that Dr. Mell be elected by acclamation. The chair ruled that it required unanimous consent. There was objection raised to the motion on the ground that while all were unanimous then it might not be so in the future, and it was not wise to establish a precedent that might hereafter give trouble. The chair ruled that the point was well taken. An appeal was made from the decision of the chair on the ground that the decision had been already established in the action of the Convention in 1869, in electing Dr. Moll by acclamation. The Convention sustained the appeal, and the member renewed his motion to elect by acclamation. It was moved as a substitute that the Convention proceed to elect by ballot, and the mover was beginning to sustain his view of the importance of adhering to this at a time when all were agreed as to who should be President, when, at the earnest request of Dr. Mell, the motion to elect by acclamation was withdrawn, and the ballot for President was proceeded with there being no nominations-and the result was that of 232 votes east, Dr. Mell received 230.

    A visitor at the meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention at Russellville, Ky., in 1866, said:

    "We think Dr. Mell the best presiding officer we have ever seen; and we heard many present at the Convention express the same opinion. He understands perfectly the duties of the position, and acts with that deliberation, promptness and firmness so necessary to give order and dispatch to the business of a deliberative body. With dignity and firmness, yet with kindness, he held in check any who might be unruly, and enabled the humblest and most modest member of the Convention to gain the ear of the body. No press of business, or excitement incident to such meetings, when unexpected questions were sprung, could for a moment disconcert him. He impressed all with his peculiar fitness for the position which he so gracefully filled."

National Baptist, in 1868.

    "Dr. Mell has the reputation of being one of the beat presiding officers of the United States. An examination of his "Manual" proves that his superiority in this respect comes from a very full comprehension of parliamentary science. He has not simply studied rules, but understood principles, and learned to apply them.

    * * * * We advise every man who aspires to office, to prepare himself for it by a perfect mastery of the principles set forth in this book; and we wish it could be made an invariable law that no man shall attempt to preside who is not prepared by an acquaintance with parliamentary science. We give the preference to this book, over any other we have seen."

    The strict construction of the duties of the President of the Southern Convention, and the limit of power assigned him by the Constitution were well understood and carefully guarded by Dr. Mell during the many years he occupied the Chair. The following letter written by him in 1868, and published in the Baptist papers of the South, well illustrate this care and consideration:

THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION.

    "Providence permitting, the Southern Baptist Convention will meet, according to its own appointment, at Baltimore, on Thursday before the Second Lord's day in May next. (1868.)

    "Respectful attention has been given to the request of valued brethren that the meeting should be postponed for a year; but no action has been taken In the promises, first, because two of the Boards have not united in the request as prescribed by the Constitution; and, second, because even with such concurrence, I have no right to act in the existing state of things, and for the reason given. With the Constitution printed as it ought to be, the President has no right to make the proposed change for any reason short of famine, pestilence or war; with the Constitution printed as it is, he has no authority in the premises at all.

    "At the meeting in Savannah, in 1861, the Constitution was so amended as to make its Article XII. read as follows:

    "The Convention shall hold its meetings biennially, but extra meetings may be called by the President, with the approbation of any one of its Board of Managers. A majority of the attending delegates shall form a quorum for the transaction of business. The President, or in the event of his death, either of the Vice-Presidents of the Convention may, at the request of two of the Boards, postpone or alter the place of the meeting of the Convention, when it may be deemed by him inexpedient to convene at time or place appointed.'-[See minutes of 1863.]

    "The Constitution was again amended at Russellville; and, while there is no evidence in the minutes of the proceedings that this article was changed at all, by clerical mistake, I suppose, it was so printed as to appear that it had been amended by striking out the last sentence commencing with, 'The President, and in the event of his death, 'etc. This, if an error, has remained unchallenged to the present time, even though this ARTICLE was submitted to revision and amendment by the Convention at Memphis.

    "I trust that all will see, from this showing, that the Boards and President have no constitutional right to act at all in the premises.

                                                                                                                                        P.H. MELL,

"President Southern Baptist Convention."

 

    Sometimes his responses to questions and motions carried with them much humor and keen wit.

    At the Session of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1887 a member was arguing some mooted point on mission methods, and he turned to the President with the question: "Am I not right, sir?" With the utmost precision the reply came: "The chair answers questions only on points of order."

    Another instance of this tendency to humor in the ruling of the chair at times, and also a fine illustration of kind rebuke is well brought out in the following article that appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal some time in 1870:

    "No visitor to the Convention can fail to be struck with the dignified, prompt but courteous officer who presides over its deliberations. And if there are points raised which require perfect knowledge of parliamentary law, tact, firmness, one sees at once that the hand of a master has the helm, and that from his decision there is rarely, it ever, a successful appeal to the house. All seem to be thoroughly impressed with the ability, courtesy, perfect fairness and firmness with which President Mell conducts the proceedings of the Body. Indeed we have never seen his equal as a presiding officer. His book—"Mell’s Parliamentary Practice "—has received the highest encomiums of the press, and is coming into general use. * *

    "He espoused the cause of the South during the war with all the ardor of his nature, and was for a time the gallant and efficient Colonel of a Georgia regiment. "He has honestly ‘accepted the situation’ since the war, but we presume that some of his brethren across the border would pronounce him (because of his candor) to be still ‘unreconstructed e. g., when in Baltimore, in 1868, the response of the Southern Baptist Convention to the fraternal message of the Northern Baptist Convention was being discussed, the venerable Dr. Welch, of New York, had the floor, and was making a very loving speech. To show that he did not censure harshly his Southern brethren, he said: ‘Why, Brother President, if I had been in the South, such are the impulses of my heart that I should no doubt have been one of the leaders of the rebellion.’ At the utterance of the last word the gavel came down sharply, and Dr. Mell said in his firmest but most courteous tones: ‘The chair rules that word out of order, on this floor.’ ‘Why, Brother President, what shall I call it sir?’ meekly asked Dr. ~e1ch. ‘The chair will not presume to dictate, sir, but he insists upon his ruling that the word ‘rebellion’ In that connection is out of order. lie shall so hold, unless you appeal from the decision of the chair. Do you appeal, sir?’ ‘No, Brother President, I do not appeal,’ responded Dr. Welch; and there were not a few followers of the ‘late so-called’ who inwardly rejoiced that, in any respectable body, the word ‘rebellion’ could be ruled out of order."

    During a session of the Georgia Baptist Convention a member who represented some benevolent enterprise was trying to raise money from the brethren. In the course of his remarks he was very bitter in his denunciation of ministers who wasted their money in the gratification of "sinful appetites," particularly in the matter of using tobacco. His speech was having the opposite effect from that desired by the speaker. Dr. Mell, anxious to aid the cause under consideration, watched for an opportunity to put the Convention in a good humor again. The speaker continued in an injured tone to add up the amounts spent by preachers in these "sinfully wasting habits," and turning to the President he said: "A pipe full of vile tobacco costs five cents, doesn’t it, Brother Moderator?" "Yes, sir," promptly responded the President, "and it is worth it, too." The Convention was uproarious for a while, resulting in the restoration of good feeling and in stopping the speaker in his offensive line of remarks. It was really of great service to him, however, because the body subscribed liberally to the cause he was advocating. The presiding officer said afterwards, in relating this incident, that he would have given more than the tobacco was worth if he could have indulged in a smoke at the time the member was speaking.

    At a session of the Southern Baptist Convention a gentleman was addressing the body in such low tones that the ladies present, who were seated in the gallery and back part of the house, could not hear what was said. A member who was seated among the ladies rose impatiently to a point of order, and said: "Brother President, I rise to a point of order; we cannot hear the speaker, the ladies are losing his address." "The point is well taken," replied the chair promptly, "It is always in order to address the ladies in this Convention."

    A newspaper account of the Southern Baptist Convention, has the following clause:

    "It is amusing to hear the varied questions asked of the presiding officer of so large a body as our Convention. The Doctor brought down the house when, in answer to a question from a brother he instantly replied: ‘The Lord only knows.’ Dr. Mell is never at a loss, never hesitates, nor will he give any decision on a question not within proper limits of his prerogative.

    At a certain meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Mell called a brother to preside over the body during his temporary absence. Business moved along all right until some one made a motion that called many to their feet, all clamoring for recognition from the chair. The President hopelessly pounded on the desk for order, order, but there was no order. Dr. Mell was sent for by some one who recognized the importance of a cool headed man in the chair. lie came back and quietly assumed charge of the chair. The gavel tapped lightly on the table, and instantly, as if by magic, disorder ceased, groups of members that had formed all over the house and were talking excitedly and loudly, dispersed and sat down, and the great body moved smoothly and orderly on with its business as if it had been some vast piece of machinery under the control of its master.

    Dr. Mell’s decision was seldom appealed from, and was reversed but once or twice during the whole time he presided over the Georgia and Southern Conventions. A combination was formed once to confuse and overthrow him. But he was calm and coal during the heat of the debate, never losing his head for a single instant, while his opponents on the floor were excited and visibly anxious to gain every point of advantage. The President was fully aware of the object in view, and his mastery of parliamentary law enabled him to hold them in check, while, at the same time, he was ruling in every point with justice and firmness. He managed in such a way, during the heat of the battle, as to induce his antagonists to appeal from a decision he had just made in their favor, and the appeal was sustained. As soon as they realized what had been done, they were thrown in the utmost confusion, and were compelled to move a reconsideration, and then the decision was unanimously sustained. This victory was related to the writer by Dr. Mell as an illustration of the great power, a knowledge of parliamentary science gave to one over an antagonist in a deliberative body.

    The respect and esteem with which he was regarded by his brethren all over the South made them rely on his decisions, not only as a presiding officer but as an arbitrator and judge. There are two noted instances of this fact that came under the personal notice of the Writer. One of these is related to illustrate the statement made.

    Two churches in an Association in Georgia became estranged because one of them received in full fellowship the excluded member of the other without the latter’s knowledge. Bach church had its friends and followers among the other churches of the Association, and the breach thus caused in the body was very grave and threatened its existence. The matter had been appealed to the Association and feeling ran high. It was conceded that if it came to an open discussion in the body the organization was doomed. Dr. Mell, on being informed of the difficulty, was urged by the cool headed members of the two churches to attend the Association and assist them to stem the tide and allay the trouble. He consented to do so, and did meet with the Association. When the subject came up some one moved that the whole matter be referred to Dr. Mell and that his decision be final. This motion was objected to on the part of two or three members, but when it was put to the house it was almost unanimously carried. Both of the churches, in which the trouble originated, agreed to abide by his decision. lie attended a meeting at each church, listened to the evidence and then submitted his advice. The brethren accepted it at once, the whole matter was thoroughly and amicably settled, and those two churches are now on the most affectionate terms.

    At the opening of the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore, at the Seventh Baptist Church, in 1884, when it was announced that Dr. Mell was re-elected President, he thanked the members for another fresh expression of their confidence. He said: "Presiding over a great body like this was not without its embarrassments. A desire to deal impartially often made a presiding officer appear stern. But I cannot serve you as your President without following the technicalities of parliamentary law. I am the servant of the Convention, not the master, and it is my desire to aid the body to carry through successfully all the business relating to the great issues that will be considered by this Convention. The brethren have elected me for a purpose, and that was to give direction to the proceedings in so far as that can be done by a presiding officer. Brethren must, therefore, understand that I do not intend to be arbitrary, but to obey strict deliberative usages in all decisions. Unless I do this there would be ‘confusion worse confounded."’

    Just after the meeting of the Georgia Baptist Association, in 1885, P. H. Mell, in writing to his son, made the following statement concerning this body. He was an exceedingly modest man, and was not accustomed to refer to thing that were complimentary to himself, but this action on the part of the Georgia Association touched him deeply, and he gave utterance, to his feelings in the letter mentioned:

    "That body did to me a very great act of kindness. For nearly, if not quite, one hundred years it has met the week previous to the second Lord’s day in October. I came very near failing to attend this year on account of a conflict between that body and the University—indeed, I had announced in a way to give it general circulation that I could not attend this year. When the time approached, however, I was able to so adjust the affairs of the University as to permit me to be present at the opening of the Association. I was unanimously re-elected to the chair. It became generally understood that my duties at the University conflicted each year with the meetings of the Association, and they unanimously voted to change their time of meeting so as to suit me, and this, too, in spite of my earnest request that they should not make the change unless they for other reasons preferred to do so. It profoundly affected me."

    The following extracts from newspapers are given to indicate the universal esteem and admiration many seemed to have for Dr. Mell as a presiding officer:

    Christian Herald, of Alabama, 1870.

 

"THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONVENTION.’

    "We believe that it is an acknowledged fact, that as a presiding officer, Dr. P. H. Mell, the President of the Convention, has no equal. He is, by far, the best parliamentarian we ever saw. The Baptists of the South ought to be thankful that they have a man so eminently fitted for the position he occupies. We are confident that the Convention owes much to Dr. Mell for the good order which prevails during its session. If it were not for the promptness and accuracy with which he decides questions of order, we fear that our Convention would oftentimes find itself in a very embarrassing situation, but thanks to President Mell, his head is always clear when confusion reigns around him."

    Dr. J. L. M. Currey, in Selma Messenger:

    "Dr. Mell’s Parliamentary Practice is the result of a request made by the Southern Baptist Convention. Having examined it with some care, we unhesitatingly pronounce it the best hand-book of Parliamentary law with which we are acquainted. Stripped of confusing detail—written in a clear, judicial style, without a superfluous word—it eliminates the principles of the science, and developes so clearly and systematically the rules for the government of deliberative bodies, that hereafter there can be no excuse for ignorance.

    "It may not be known that there are three codes, the British, the American, and that which obtains in the House of Representatives at Washington. In the last, the rules are subordinated to purposes of party tyranny, and the suppression of legitimate debate. Dr. Mell conforms to the American Code, stating clearly and concisely wherein it differs from the others.

    "Dr. Mell is one of the best presiding officers in America, has an analytical and discriminating mind like Mr. Calhoun’s, has studied the subject thoroughly and philosophically, and in this compact work, has satisfactorily supplied a felt want."

    Texas paper on the Session at Waco, in 1883:

    "The effect of the vast crowd on the meetings of the Convention was, in some respects, bad. It was a matter of impossibility to have that good order and decorum in the transaction of business which have so long characterized the meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, and it was even a little amusing to hear our ‘prince of parliamentarians’ (Dr. Mell), declare on the last day of the session: ‘I feel like the figure-head of a magnificent ship that is darting and pitching in the sea, I never knew a more good humored crowd, but it is beyond my capacity to control.’ But really he had the ship, crew and passengers entirely under his control, and made the Convention present as dignified an appearance as the United States Senate, at the time referred to by Baldwin, when he said that ‘Webster held the helm while Clay blew the gale.’

    Another Texas paper, commenting on the Convention that convened at Waco, said:

    "In the chair sat the venerable Dr. Mell, whose piercing eye, gray hair, tall, straight person, indicated penetration, thought and firmness. The prince of parliamentarians, he rules the body with measured ease. ‘I appeal from the decision of the chair,’ is becoming beautifully less, and Dr. Mell, in the Southern Baptist Convention, is almost instinctively recognized as President without the vote of acclamation. Upon motion of Rev. G. A. Nunnally, of Georgia, Dr. P. H. Mell was elected President by acclamation. The result was heard with applause, whereupon the President suggested that nothing is more disorderly than applause in a religious assembly.

    "The reign of courtesy in the Convention was almost supreme. Of course, the Southern Baptists can never cease to admire the genius of Dr. Mell as a presiding officer. He rules with the inflexible rigor of a tyrant, and yet with a spirit so genial and sympathetic that no reasonable man can ever be embarrassed by his presence. But, apart from him, the Convention was knit together by the sweet ties of unity and concord. The fact is, it is not common, not respectable, not decent, not even bearable, for a brother to violate in the Southern Baptist Convention the most refined principle of courtesy."

    Dr. Bright, of New York, said at the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, at Baltimore, in 1884:

    "I am glad to be here. I am glad to see you, sir (President Mell), who have written the best work on parliamentary practice I have ever seen. I am glad to see a man put his own principles into practice."

    1884. Biblical Recorder:

    "Dr. Mell presided over the Convention with even more than former success. He seems to grow brighter and quicker with age, and to increase in power and efficiency as a presiding officer."

    The Augusta Chronicle, speaking of the session of the Southern Baptist Convention that met in Augusta, Georgia, says:

    "Among all the men who are prominent on the floor, and eminent in the officers’ chairs, the Chronicle must be pardoned for noting the inspiring and directing presence of Patrick Hues Mell. He has been President of the body for twelve years, and was yesterday returned with overwhelming accord to his high station. He presides with great strength and dignity. His voice is strong and sympathetic; his manner is firm and courteous; his decisions are prompt and clear cut, and his rulings are as sound and unimpeachable as organic principles. Dr. Mell Is not only authority upon laws and precedents for deliberative bodies, but is himself a trained and distinguished practical parliamentarian."

    Dr. J. J. D. Renfroe, in a letter to a religious paper, concerning the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, makes the following comment concerning the Address of Dr. Mell on Parliamentary Law:

    "That was a grand Convention; as a deliberative body we have never had anything superior to it. And by the way, I never before so well understood the character of the Southern Baptist Convention as a deliberative body in distinction from so many mere mass meetings which ale called Conventions, Dr. Mell’s exposition of that feature of our Convention was lucid. In 1864 I said in a newspaper article that it was worth the expense of a trip to the Convention to witness his manner of presiding. That was just after the Memphis Convention, where points of order were frequently raised. I feel the same about it yet. Young ministers ought to study his book on Parliamentary Practice, and while he lives they ought to watch his administration of it.’

    The Texas Herald said:

    "Dr. Mell is the presiding genius and central figure of the Southern Baptist Convention. He must be a dull student of parliamentary practice who does not learn something new and valuable every year he attends.

    "When the Convention was ready to elect officers some one rose and said: ‘I move that the Secretary be requested to cast the ballot of the Convention for Dr. P. H. Mell as President of the Convention.’ The response from the chair came quick: No such motion is known in parliamentary law.’ Another asked: ‘What would be the proper motion to elect by acclamation.’ The chair replied: ‘That would be the proper motion itself.’ Then the member said: ‘I move that Dr. Mell be elected President of this Convention by acclamation.’ A voice from the Assembly said: ‘I object; it is not Baptistic.’ The chair ruled: ‘One is a majority in such a case. Proceed to prepare your ballots.’

    Another paper, Commenting on this Session, said:

    "After religious exercises (in the afternoon of the first day) it was moved that Dr. Mell be re-elected President by acclamation; but it was decided to be more Baptistic to waste half an hour in taking a ballot, which resulted in an unanimous vote for Dr. Mell."

    It was also stated by some that he should be supplanted as President of the Georgia Baptist. Convention because of his connection with the State University. That the influence he exerted as President of the Convention attracted attention to the State University, and thus withdrew pupils from the halls of Mercer University. But this objection, if such it could be called, seemed to have no weight with the large number of delegates that comprised the Convention each year, because Dr. Mell was never opposed by a vote large enough to be considered of any special moment, but his elections were next to unanimous:

    Chicago Standard, in 1887:

    "The Convention proceedings are always suggestive to a Northern man. The dignified and kindly presence of the occupant of the chair—Chancellor Mell, of the Georgia State University—is well nigh the most marked feature of each session. Again and again, during many years, he has been called to this office. Perfect as a parliamentarian, no less so as a Christian gentleman, he holds the great audience in his hand. As Dr. Strong noted in his speech, responsive to the call made upon him, the business of the Convention is characterized by a spontaneity much lacking with us. But the admirable guidance of the chair, and the parliamentary instinct characteristic of Southerners, prevents freedom from degenerating into license, and the business is done with order and dispatch. Applause is forbidden, but what can Chancellor Mell do when Henson, or Hawthorne, or Lorimer, or Dixon or Greene has the floor?"

    Another paper extract says:

    ‘There are few men who have been pressed into service so often as presiding officer as Doctor P. H. Mell. Tall, erect, dignified, affable, clearly understanding his duties, and discharging them impartially; comprehending without hesitation the most intricate questions of parliamentary law, and deciding promptly their bearing upon the most involved and prolonged and vexed propositions, we pronounce him the Prince of Moderators. lie is Chancellor of the University of Georgia, Moderator of his District Association, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, his laurels are crowned by the unanimity with which for the eleventh session he has been chosen to preside over the Southern Baptist Convention. Withal, Dr. Mell is one of the most scholarly, logical men in the South. Listened to with profound interest as a preacher, he is none the less influential in private life, because of his Christian simplicity and uniform piety. Although advanced in years, his eye is yet undimmed, and his strength unabated, and we trust many years of increasing usefulness are before him."

 
 
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