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380 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
DECEMBER MEETING, 1878.
The regular monthly meeting was held on Thursday, the
12th instant, at 11 o'clock A.M. ; the President in the chair.
The Recording Secretary read the record of the previous
meeting, and it was approved.
The Librarian reported the accessions to the Library by
gifts during the month. He called attention to the third
volume of Mr. Winthrop's " Addresses and Speeches," just
published, containing his public orations and occasional dis-
courses during the last ten years, and dedicated to our Hon-
orary Member, the Hon. Hugh Blair Grigsby, President of
the Virginia Historical Society, a copy of which had been
presented by the author, our distinguished President.
The Corresponding Secretary read a letter from M. Henri
Martin accepting his election as an Honorary Member.
The Cabinet-keeper announced the gift, by Mr. John T.
Clark, of a view of the Old Elm on Boston Common, litho-
graphed upon a veneer from the wood of the venerable tree.
The President read the following extract from a letter
he had received from George H. Moore, LL.D., of New York :
" Referring to the Collections Mass. Hist. Soc, 4th Series,
vol. ix. p. 11 (note), and note after p. 488 in the same volume,
I beg leave, through you, respectfully to offer, for the accept-
ance of the Society, a copy of Pory's translation of Leo's
Africa, which is complete with the exception of the map.
The copy in the Library of the Society which is referred to
as ' not complete, nor in good condition,' has the map ; so that
the Society will henceforth be in possession of the whole of
this interesting publication, which has an additional interest
for American historical scholars from the fact that it was so
warmly encouraged by Hakluyt."
He read also the following letter from Mr. W. H. Swift,
who was one of the engineers in the construction of the West-
ern railroad from Worcester to Albany : —
Hon. Robert C. Wisthrop, Nkw Yomc > Nov - »• 187a
President Mass. Hist. Society.
Dear Sir, — I have among my books a volume of pamphlets of
some 800 pages, containing a collection of reports and other documents
relating to the history and construction of the Western Railroad of
Massachusetts, from its beginning in 1836 to its completion in 1842,
1878.] REMARKS BY MR. DEANE. 381
and its consolidation with the Boston and Worcester Railroad in
These documents have been selected by me from a large number
published by the corporation and others during the period above stated ;
and the selection has been made more with the desire of preserving
and exhibiting the earlier history of the road and the principles upon
which it was constructed than for any other purpose. Pamphlets of
this description, being ephemeral in character, soon disappear, and are
lost to public sight ; but after a lapse of forty or fifty years, as in this
instance, they sometimes possess a value for the antiquary.
Of the earlier efforts which were made to secure the construction of
a " canal or railway from Boston to the Hudson River at Albany," a
minute account will be found detailed in the " Historical Memoir of
the Western Railroad," published by Mr. George Bliss in 1863, now
included in the present volume, the record running back to 1791.
I propose, with your assent, to give the volume to the Society of
which you are the President, and hope it may be found worthy of a
place on the shelves of its library. It will serve to show to posterity
how and by what methods this really great work of that day was
initiated, and how successfully and economically the whole of it was
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
William H. Swift.
The thanks of the Society were voted to Mr. Moore and
Mr. Swift for these acceptable gifts.
The President then announced the death of a Correspond-
ing Member, Dr. John G. Kohl, which took place at Bremen
on the 28th of October, and called upon Mr. Deane, who
spoke as follows : —
Mb. President, — The death of so distinguished a Corre-
sponding Member as was Dr. Kohl in his special department
of archaeology should certainly excuse us for dwelling a few
moments upon his labors. You kindly asked me, sir, to say
a few words of him ; and what I wish to say I have put down
on a few sheets of paper, in order that I may not take up
too much time.
Dr. John George Kohl was born on the 28th of April, 1808,
in the old German city of Bremen, where his father was a
merchant, He studied at Gb'ttingen, at Heidelberg, and at
Munich ; and in 1832 he accepted the place of preceptor in
the family of Baron de Manteuffel, and later in that of
Comte Medem. In 1854, Dr. Kohl visited the United States,
where he stayed three or four years, returning to Bremen
in 1858. He then accepted the position of librarian of the
382 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
city library of Bremen, which I suppose he held at the time
of his death.
Previous to visiting this country, Dr. Kohl had travelled
extensively in Europe in pursuit of historical and geographical
information, and subsequently in Canada and the United
States ; and the results of his observations he published in
many volumes, too numerous to be mentioned here. I will
speak more particularly of those labors which especially
My first acquaintance with Dr. Kohl was made during bis
residence in our Cambridge, more than twenty years ago,
when he was employed on an important work for the Coast
Survey ; viz., a History of Maritime Discovery from the time
of Columbus to the advent of the " Mayflower " on our
shores, illustrated by original maps. The study of maps, and
particularly maps relating to the New World, may be said
to have been a specialty with Dr. Kohl. For this work (for
the Coast Survey) he employed a corps of assistants to
reduce the larger maps and charts to the requisite size. He
was a long time engaged on this labor, and I often saw him
during its progress. He was a tall, spare man, of great energy
of character, and full of enthusiasm on his special theme.
During the winter that he spent in Cambridge, he would
sometimes carry off from my own library armfuls of books,
whenever he thought he could find in them a trace of a map
which he had not seen, or a new fact bearing on his subject.
I remember once on leaving my house he slung a large pack-
age of books over his shoulder, like a traveller's pack, and
trudged off with them in a drifting snow-storm, making me
almost tremble for my precious volumes.
The work to which I have referred was prepared by him
with the full expectation that, when completed, it would
be published by the United States Government. But the
financial troubles of 1857 came on, the Government was
almost bankrupt, and the publication of his work was delayed
or abandoned ; and Dr. Kohl went home to Germany almost
broken-hearted. His beautiful maps, some of which I have
seen at Washington, are now uncared for.
Dr. Kohl also prepared a history of the voyages made from
the earliest period to the west coast of the United States,
illustrated by maps in the same manner, but briefer and less
elaborate than his work relating to the east coast. The man-
uscript, with the maps, yet unpublished, is now in possession
of the American Antiquarian Society.
While in this country, Dr. Kohl prepared and published
1878.] REMARKS BY MK. DEANE. 383
a " Descriptive Catalogue of those Maps, Charts, and Surveys
relating to America which are mentioned in vol. iii. of Hak-
luyt's Great Work, Washington, 1857."
He also delivered a lecture, at the Smithsonian Institution,
" On the Plan of a Cartographical Depot for the History and
Geography of the American Continent."
The importance of such a depot for historical investigation
is learnedly and eloquently set forth by him.
He showed that the study of old maps as materials for a
history of geography is of comparatively recent date, — not
earlier than the present century. The distinguished map-
makers of the sixteenth century, — Mercator, Ortelius, Hon-
dius, and others, — and those of the two following centuries,
were employed in producing the best maps possible from the
latest and most authentic information, and not in reproducing
old maps. A new map was always an object of interest,
and was valued as a most precious thing ; but it might be
very soon superseded by another regarded as more accurate,
and then it would be thrown aside as useless, and be forgotten.
It is only by a knowledge of those old and " useless " maps
that the history of geography and discovery can be written.
By the labors of Humboldt, Baron Walckenaer, Ghillany,
Jomard, D'Avezac, and others, who have recently produced
copies of the earliest maps and globes, illustrated by a learned
text, has it been possible to arrive at the opinions of the
navigators themselves, and to elevate the study of geography
into something like a science.
A briefer paper on " Lost Maps," contributed to the " Na-
tional Intelligencer " at Washington, I remember interested
He spoke of the maps of the Italian navigator, Palestrello,
who, at his death, left to his wife his papers and maps of the
islands and waters of the Atlantic Ocean. These she gave to
Columbus when he married her daughter. How interesting
it would be, he said, to have one of those maps by which
Columbus was instructed ! He also referred to the map
constructed by the celebrated Toscanelli, the friend of Co-
lumbus, giving his idea of the size of the globe, and in what
manner one could sail from Spain westward to Asia. The
famous Bishop Las Casas had this map in his possession.
It may yet be slumbering in the archives of Spain.
Columbus himself was once a map-maker, gaining his live-
lihood by composing maps. These are all lost. Bartholomew
Columbus, the brother of Christopher, also made maps ; but
no one of them is extant. I will not enumerate others. By
384 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Deo.
such an interest, and by inquiries like these, is science in-
debted for the more recent discovery and rediscovery of the
maps of Cabot and of Vespucius.
On his return home, Dr. Kohl published in 1860 an elabo-
rate and beautiful edition of the celebrated map of the world
made by the Spanish cosmographer Diego Ribero, in 1529, —
one of the most important maps relating to our coast, minutely
delineating the voyages of Gomez and Ayllon. The original
is preserved in the collection of the Grand Duke of Weimar.
Dr. Kohl's last work, or that by which he is best known in
this country, is his " History of the Discovery of the East
Coast of North America, particularly the Coast of Maine,
from the Northmen in 990 to the Charter of Gilbert in 1578.
Illustrated by maps and charts." This book forms the first
volume of the " Documentary History of Maine," published
in 1869. Dr. Kohl was one year in preparing this work ; but
he embodied in it the results of a life of preparation. I
regard it as one of the most valuable and trustworthy books
on the subject of which it treats; and English scholars,
like Mr. Major of the British Museum, bear testimony to its
value. In one of his learned papers, he speaks of Dr. Kohl
and the late M. D'Avezac as " two friends of mine of high
distinction in the world of letters." He says of Dr. Kohl's
book, published by the Maine Historical Society : " It is a
most admirable work ; and I am proud to think that it was
at my suggestion that the proposal was made to my learned
friend to undertake so responsible and difficult a task."
Dr. Kohl was never married. He was wedded only to his
science. He had the enthusiasm, perse verance, and learn-
ing so characteristic of German scholars, united to the most
beautiful simplicity of character. After the death of Hum-
boldt, he was unquestionably the most distinguished geogra-
pher in Europe.
The last letter I had from Dr. Kohl was nine months ago.
I will conclude these very imperfect remarks by reading some
extracts from it : —
" The last essay which I have published is one on the dis-
covery and geographical history of the Magellan Strait, of
which I have sent and presented a copy to your Historical
Society. Since that, I have worked again and again on the
history of the North-west passage, from Cortes to Franklin
and M'Clure, which comprises nearly the history of the
geography of the entire North of America. The greatest
part of this work I had finished and prepared for print, when
about one and a half years' ago such a weakness and frailness
1878.] PORTRAITS BY BLACKBURN. 385
of my body befell me, that I was obliged to give up all work-
ing, studying, and writing. Some chapters or specimens of
this work are printing in this moment in the " Ausland " of
Cotta. But the entire work, at which I have been laboring
for years, will never come out. I am so invalid in my legs
that I am unable to walk from one table or room to the other;
and that I can, like my dear Professor Woods,* enjoy nature
and fresh air only in a carriage. How happy would I be if
I could ride in his company through the lofty woods and
picturesque scenery of Maine ! Here, near my father-town,
Bremen, the landscape is indeed extremely tame and uninter-
esting. I improve it a little on my excursions, thinking of
my dear Professor Woods and his enjoyments. . . . Preserve
me your friendship, and farewell. A great joy would it be
for me if you would take the trouble to write to me a little
more on your own life and doings, . . . and particularly
of my dear, revered friend, Longfellow." . . .
Mr. Abbott Lawrence, of Boston, was elected a Resident
Member; and John Hill Burton, D.C.L., the Historiographer
Royal for Scotland, an Honorary Member.
Mr. Augustus T. Perkins communicated the following
sketches of the artists Blackburn and Smibert, with memo-
randa of the portraits painted by them, the result of his
researches : —
Extended researches have failed to throw much light on
the questions whence Jonathan B. Blackburn came and where
he went on leaving Boston. He first appeared here, so far as
we know, about 1750, and remained about fifteen years. Mr.
H. W. French, who has devoted much time to this inquiry,
thinks there is reason to believe that he came from Con-
necticut; and he has discovered that there was a travelling
artist of the name of Blackburn, a generation before him, who
may have been his father. There is no very good proof of this ;
but it seems well to mention the circumstance, so that it may
be remembered, and perhaps a clew to his real ancestry be thus
obtained. He was for the time certainly a very good portrait
painter ; and I cannot help feeling that he remained in Boston
until, finding that his pupil, or imitator, Copley, had begun
to paint better than himself, he removed from the town. The
* Dr. Kohl had learned that his friend, Dr. Leonard Woods, late President
of Bowdoin College, — who has died since the above remarks were written, —
had become an invalid, and quite unable to take exercise except in the way
mentioned by Dr. Kohl.
386 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
fact that Copley had so improved as to be unquestionably the
better painter when Blackburn retired cannot be questioned.
A list of such of his pictures as I have been able to trace,
arranged alphabetically, is here submitted : —
Joseph Allen. — This picture, a three-quarters length, repre-
senting a fine-looking man, dressed in the fashion of the times, is
painted with great skill, and shows conclusively how good an artist
Mrs. Joseph Allen. — This picture, a companion portrait to that
of her husband, is equally well painted. Both are in Blackburn's best
They are in the possession of Miss Andrews, Chestnut Street,
Mr. Amort. — There is a portrait of this gentleman, signed by
Blackburn, in the possession of Mr. Edward Sohier, of Longwood.
Charles Aptiiorp. — He was born in England in 1698, married
Grissilda Eastwick, Jan. 13, 1726, and died Sept. 11, 1758. This
picture, a three-quarters length, painted in 1758, is fifty by forty inches,
and represents Mr. Apthorp as an elderly gentleman, dressed in red
broadcloth, with black silk stockings. He is sitting in his garden in
Quincy, looking toward his house. In the background is a view of
the old Adams mansion.
Mrs. Charles Apthokp. — She was Grissilda Eastwick; was
born in 1710, and died in 1796. This, being a companion picture to
that of her husband, is three-quarters length, and fifty by forty inches in
size. It represents a lady, dressed in a changeable salmon and green
silk robe, cut square in the neck, the sleeves trimmed with lace.
These two pictures are in the possession of Mrs. Tasker Swett,
Atkins Picture. — There was a very good picture in the pos-
session of the late Mr. Atkins, of Boston, which he stated to be by
Blackburn, and which represented a lady and a young girl.
Colonel Theodore Atkinson. — He was the son of Hon. Theo-
dore Atkinson ; was born at Newcastle, N. H., in 1697 ; and was grad-
uated at Harvard College in 1718. He married the daughter of
Lieutenant-Governor John Wentworth, in 1734. This portrait is of
life-size, and represents Colonel Atkinson as dressed in a brown em-
broidered coat with ruffles around the hand, a white neckerchief, and
full wig. His right hand, holding a pen, rests on a table. Near by
are papers, one of which is entitled " Expenses of Government,"
another "Enlisted Returns for 1760," and, with them, the Seal of
Mrs. Theodore Atkinson. — She was one of the sixteen children
of Lieutenant-Governor John Wentworth and Sarah, daughter of
Mark Huuking, of Devonshire, England, and sister of Governor
Benning Wentworth. She was born July 4, 1700, and married, first,
1878.] PORTRAITS BY BLACKBURN. 387
Samuel Plaisted. Mr. Plaisted dying in 1731, she married Colonel
Atkinson, for her second husband, in 1734.
This picture is of life-size, and represents Mrs. Atkinson dressed in
light-blue satin. The front of the dress is laced, and a string of pearls
adorns the throat. Her scarf, which falls over the left shoulder, is
held back by the right hand ; the head-dress, which is floating back, is
fastened by an ornament in the middle.
These two pictures, which are fine examples of Blackburn's style,
are owned by Mrs. Mary Wendell Tredick, of Nokesville, Va., and
her sister, Mrs. Charlotte King Atkinson Wadleigh, of Union, N. H.
Theodore Atkinson, Jr. — He was born in 1736, and was grad-
uated at Harvard College in 1757. He married his cousin, Frances
Deering Wentworth, at that time sixteen years of age, May 13, 1762.
He died at Portsmouth, Oct. 28, 1769. His widow afterward married
another cousin, Sir John Wentworth, Bart., the last Boyal Governor
of New Hampshire.
Mr. Atkinson is represented as standing dressed in a russet-colored
coat, with ruffles around the wrists of his small white hands, which are
beautifully painted. The waistcoat is white, and handsomely em-
broidered. The hair is combed back, and dressed with close round
curls at the side.
This picture, which has always been considered one of Blackburn's
best, is in the possession of one of the family, Mr. Francis A. Freeman,
Hanover, N. H.
Mrs. Thomas Ball. — This lady was Elizabeth Davison, and was
married to Captain Thomas Ball, of Charlestown, June 26, 1728. In
the portrait, which is a small one, she is represented as attired in a
black silk dress in the fashion of the time. Her hair, which is
without powder, is flowing behind.
This picture descended to Hon. William Willis, of Portland, and
from him went to Mr. Henry H. Edes, of Charlestown, the present
owner, who is a descendant in the sixth generation.
Mrs. Barrell. — This lady, who was a daughter of Mr. Saward,
is represented in a beautifully painted picture of three-quarters length,
in a standing position.
Colonel Henry Lee, when he saw this portrait, thought that it
must be a Copley, and it was so entered in the list of the works of
that artist. Subsequent inquiry, however, has proved it to be one of
Blackburn's finest works.
It is in the possession of descendants, the Messrs. Barrell, of York,
Mrs. Thomas Bixlfinch. — She was the daughter of Charles and
Grissilda Apthorp, whose portraits have been already described. She
was born in 1734, married to Dr. Thomas Bulfinch 13th September,
1759, and died 15th February, 1815. This picture is a three-quarters
length, and measures fifty by forty inches. Mrs. Bulfinch is painted
sitting, and wears a changeable green and gray robe.
The portrait is owned by Mrs. Tasker Swett, Boston.
388 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
Mrs. Cabot. — This picture is a half-length. It represents a lady
seated, handsomely dressed in the fashion of the times. The picture
is particularly interesting, as itis signed by the artist.
It is in the possession of Mr. George G. Lowell, of Boston.
Cunningham Family. — There are several fine portraits of mem-
bers of this family in the possession of Mr. Alexander S. Porter,
Deering Pictures. — Dr. Deering, of Utica, N. Y., owns two
half-length portraits of ladies. One of them represents a shepherdess
holding a crook, with a lamb at her side. These pictures Colonel
Trumbull pronounced to be by Blackburn's brush.
Mr. John Erving. — He was graduated from Harvard College in
1747, and married Maria Catharina, daughter of Governor Shirley, in
1754. Being a Loyalist, he retired to England in 1776. He died
at Bath, England, in 1816, aged eighty-nine years. This portrait is
four feet and one inch long by three feet and three inches wide. It
represents a gentleman of about twenty-eight years of age. The
figure is of three-quarters length, dressed in a gray coat, a rose-
colored satin waistcoat embroidered with silver, and black velvet knee-
breeches. It was painted in 1755.
Mrs. John Erving. — The daughter of Governor Shirley was born
in 1729. She retired to England with her husband, and died at Bath
in 1816, the same year with him. The picture represents a lady of
about twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, seated in a garden, holding
in her hand a bunch of roses. Her dress is white satin trimmed with
This portrait, a three-quarters length, and that of Mr. John Erving,
are in the possession of Mrs. Shirley Erving, Beacon Street, Boston.
James Flag. — This picture represents a pretty boy from four to
five years old, with dark curling hair and dark eyes. He is dressed in
a simple white robe. He was a child of Gershom Flag.
Mart Flag. — The sister of James Flag is represented an infant,
perhaps a year old, dressed in white. The eyes are dark, but the hair
is blond, and is surmounted by a white cap. In her right hand she
holds an apple. Mary Flag married, for her first husband, Dr. Wilder ;
and there is a curious story attached to her married life. She and
several of her children were attacked with lung fever, and she appar-
ently died. She was duly laid out, and some hours afterward the
undertaker, coming to place the supposed corpse into the coffin, was
struck by the strange appearance of her face. Her husband was
summoned, and at once took measures to restore consciousness. The
attempt was successful, and she lived forty years longer ; buried Dr.
Wilder, and, marrying a Dr. Hurd, had a second family by him. She
was the great-grandmother of the Rev. Henry W. Foote.
These two pictures are owned by the Rev. Dr. George E. Ellis,
1878.] PORTRAITS BY BLACKBURN. 389
Ellis Gray. — There are two portraits of Rev. Ellis Gray, of
half-length, representing him in -his robes and bands, the hair without
Both pictures are in the possession of his grand-children. One is
owned by Miss Anne Cary, of Chelsea, the other by William Ferdi-
nand Cary, Esq., of Boston.
William Grbenleap. — He was born in 1724, and died in 1803.
He was the son of Daniel Greenleaf, of Boston. The picture is of
three-quarters length, and represents a fine-looking man dressed in a
drab suit, with green waistcoat, leaning upon an anchor.
Mrs. William Greenleaf. — This portrait is of three-quarters
length, a companion picture to the former. The lady is represented
standing, with her left arm leaning upon a fountain. Her dress is of
mauve pink, trimmed with lace, and ornamented with black bows at
the waist and neck. The portrait is exceedingly well painted, and is
remarkable for the very small size of the hands.
Mrs. John Greenleaf. — This picture is of half-length, and
represents the lady sitting, dressed in a white satin robe and a blue
mantle, — her waist and hair decorated with pearls.
These three pictures are in the possession of a descendant, Mr.
Richard C. Greenleaf, Boston.
Benjamin Hall. — He was born in 1731, and died in 1817. The
picture represents him wearing a drab coat and white wig.
Mrs. Benjamin Hall. — This lady is dressed in a steel-blue robe,
her dark hair without powder, and on her right shoulder a mauve pink
These two pictures are in possession of Dr. Hall Curtis, Boston.
Rev. John Hancock. — He was the minister of Lexington from
1698 to 1752, and grandfather of John Hancock of Revolutionary fame.
Mrs. John Hancock. — The grandmother of Gov. John Hancock.
These two pictures are preserved in the Public Library of Lexington.
Daniel Henchman. — This picture, a half-length, represents a
gentleman dressed in a brown coat and wearing a flowing wig. He
was the father of Lydia Henchman who became the wife of Thomas
Mrs. Daniel Henchman. — She is dressed in a green robe open
at the neck. Her hair is without powder, and long curls fall on her
These pictures are in the possession of the family of the late Daniel
Mr. Ralph Inman. — This portrait, a half-length, represents a
gentleman dressed in a brown coat, and wearing a white wig. His left
arm rests upon a chair.
Mrs. Ralph Inman. — This picture represents a handsome woman
in a green silk dress, cut low. Her hair is dark, and dressed without
390 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
powder. She has thrown about her a mauve-pink mantle, and rests
her right hand on a chair. In the background is a mountain.
These portraits are owned by a descendant, Mr. "William Amory,
Mrs. Inman. — There is a beautiful portrait of this lady in the
possession of Mr. William Gardiner Prescott, Boston.
Judge Lowell. — There is a fine portrait of this gentleman in
the possession of Mr. John A. Lowell, Boston.
Hon. Andrew Oliver, Jr. — He was born in Boston, 13th of
November, 1731. He married, 28th of May, 1752, Mary, daughter
of the Hon. Benjamin Lynde, Jr. He was one of the Justices of the
Court of Common Pleas for Essex County. This picture is a three-
It was painted in 1756, and is in the possession of Dr. F. E. Oliver.
Madam Andrew Oliver, Jr. — She was the eldest daughter of
the Hon. Benjamin Lynde, Jr. She was born Jan. 5, 1733. This
portrait, being a companion to the former, is a three-quarters length.
It was painted in 1756, and is in the possession of Dr. F. E. Oliver.
Otis Pictures. — It is believed that there are portraits by Black-
burn in the possession of this family, but no information regarding
them can be obtaiued.
James Otis. — This portrait represents the Patriot as a young man
of about thirty years of age. It was, says William Tudor, painted in
1755. Mr. Otis is dressed in the costume of the time, wearing a white
wig. An engraving of the picture, by Durant, is to be found in the
" History of James Otis," by William Tudor.
Mrs. Gillam Phillips. — She was Marie Faneuil, the eldest sister
of Peter Faneuil, who gave Faneuil Hall. She was born April 16,
1708. She married Mr. Gillam Phillips in 1725. Mr. and Mrs.
Phillips lived at the corner of what are now State and Devonshire
Streets until the breaking out of the Bevolution, when Mr. Phillips,
who was a Loyalist, went away. Mrs. Phillips died in Cambridge in
1778. The portrait represents a pretty woman holding in her left
hand a jewelled bracelet, which she has just passed around her right arm.
It is in the possession of her great-great-grand-nephew, Mr. W.
Mrs. Phillips. — This picture, four and one-half feet long by three
leet wide, represents a fine-looking woman, dressed in a white satin gown,
decorated with bows of blue ribbon. By her right hand she holds her
mantle ; on her neck and in her ears are pearl ornaments.
The portrait is in the possession of Mrs. Mary Anne Jones, 597
Tremont Street, Boston.
Benjamin Pollard. — He was born in June, 1696 ; married Mar-
garet Winslow; and died Dec. 26, 1756. This picture is thirty-three
inches by twenty-six inches, and represents Mr. Pollard, who was
Sheriff of Suffolk County, as wearing a blue dressing-gown, a red
waistcoat, with a lace cravat. On his head is a broad dark velvet cap.
1878.] PORTRAITS BY BLACKBURN. 391
Margaret Winslow Pollard. — She was born May 9, 1724,
and died March 25, 1814. This picture, thirty-three inches by twenty-
six inches, is a companion to her husband's picture above mentioned.
It represents Mrs. Pollard dressed in white satin, cut square in the
neck, and fastened with pearls. Her hair is dressed in large curls,
unpowdered, and over her arm is a blue scarf.
These two pictures are in the possession of Miss M. V. Winslow, of
Saltonstall Family. — This picture, says Mr. H. W. French, of
Hartford (to whom I am indebted for this description), is a family
group of four of the children of Governor Saltonstall, who are repre-
sented standing around a table. " It is agreeable in arrangement, and
certainly finely painted ; it is good in drawing and in tone. The flesh
tints are not crude, and the draperies are particularly striking for ease
and grace of line. The background is admirable in strength and
clearness. It is a large picture, six feet by four feet, the figures
approaching to life-size."
It is in the possession of a descendant, Mr. R. W. Hubbard, of
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Margaret Temple. — She was a daughter of Hon. Robert Temple,
of Ten Hills, near Boston, and Mehitable Nelson. She was married
to Mr. Nathaniel Dowse. The canvas measures four feet three inches
in height, and three feet four inches in width. The picture represents
a young lady dressed in green silk trimmed with lace. She is sitting
on a bank in a garden, with a bunch of flowers in her hand.
It is in the possession of her great-nephew, the Hon. Robert C.
Winthrop, of Boston.
Patrick Tracy. — He was born in 1711, and died Feb. 23, 1789.
The picture is seven feet six inches long by four feet three inches wide.
It represents Mr. Tracy, who was a celebrated merchant of his time,
as standing on a wharf, his left hand resting on an anchor. His dress
is of a drab cloth, and he wears a white wig. There is some doubt
whether this picture was painted by Blackburn or by Copley.
It is in the possession of a descendant, Mr. Patrick Tracy Jackson,
Edward Winslow. — Was born Nov. 1, 1669. He married
Hannah Moody, and died Dec. 1, 1753. This picture is thirty by
twenty-five inches, and represents Mr. Winslow, who was Sheriff of
Suffolk County, dressed in a red coat with gilt buttons, a ruffled shirt,
a muslin cravat, and a long flowing dark wig.
General John Winslow. — There is a picture of this distin-
guished gentleman, signed by Blackburn, in the possession of tha
Massachusetts Historical Society. It represents the general dressed
in a red coat. Under his arm he carries a three-cornered hat, and on
his head is a powdered wig.
Joshua Winslow. — He was born Feb. 12, 1695, and married
Elizabeth Savage. He died Oct. 9, 1769. This picture is thirty
392 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
inches by twenty-five inches, and represents Mr. Winslow dressed in
a snuff-colored coat and waistcoat, small white wig, and white cravat.
He holds a cocked hat under his arm.
This and the portrait of Edward Winslow are in the possession of a
descendant, Miss M. V. Winslow, Boston.
The Winslow Family Picture. — This picture is six feet six
inches long by three feet six inches wide. It represents Isaac, son of
Edward Winslow, who was born in 1709. He is dressed in a brown
coat. His hnir is powdered, and he stands with his left arm resting on
a chair, in which sits his wife, Lucy Waldo, born in 1725. Her dark
hair is without powder, and her dress, which is very well painted, is of
mauve-pink. In her lap sits her daughter Hannah, an infant, aged
about two years, in white, looking towards her sister Lucy, who
approaches. The costume of the latter is a dark skirt and white
over-dress, with jewels looping up the sleeves. Lucy Winslow was
born in 1749, and was married, in 1768, to George Erving. Hannah
Winslow was born in 1755, and was married, in 1767, to Captain
John Wall. This picture was painted in 1757, and represents the
family in a garden, with a large tree and iron gates in the background.
It is in the possession of S. W. Winslow, Esq., Pinckney Street,
John Smibert, says Mrs. William B. Richards (to whom I
am indebted for much of my information regarding him), was
born in Edinburgh. His father, a lay member of the ecclesi-
astical council in that city, destined his son for the ministry.
While showing no predilection for the Church, John evinced
so strong a taste for drawing that his father concluded to
allow him to follow the profession of an artist. It was a long
time before he attempted to use colors. His first essay was a
portrait of a young negro who was brought with his parents
from Martinique, and at that time was considered an object
of great interest by the inhabitants of the Scottish capital.
It is believed that Smibert passed some time in Italy for
the sake of improving himself. On his return, he went to
London, where he painted a number of portraits. He was
patronized by the learned and eccentric Earl of Bristol, by
whom he was probably introduced to his cousin, Chief Justice
Lynde, of Salem.
Smibert came to America in company with Harrison, the
architect of King's Chapel in Boston, and others who followed
in the train of the celebrated Bishop Berkeley. Soon after
his arrival, he visited as a guest his friend Chief Justice
Lynde, whose portrait he painted. This picture is in the
possession of Mrs. William B. Richards, of Boston. At the
same time, he painted a portrait of Chief Justice Sewall, who
1878.] POKTKAITS BY SMIBEKT. 393
died not long afterward. This portrait is in the possession of
the Judge's descendants, the Misses Ridgway, of Boston.
Smibert married in Boston Mary Williams, July 30th, 1730.
Their children were : Allison, William, John, and Nathaniel.
He seems to have been quite successful as an artist, as the
inventory of his estate, given by Mr. William H. Whitmore,
in his " Early Painters and Engravers of New England,"
shows that he possessed half of a house and land in Queen
(now Court) Street, valued at about ,£470, 14 acres of land
in Roxbury, 109 ounces of silver plate, a silver watch and
silver-hilted sword, about 70 pictures of different kinds, silk
coverlids, horse and carriage, and a negro girl, " Phillis."
His whole property amounted to about £1,400 sterling, con-
sidered quite a sum in the year 1752. He was probably fond
of music and fencing, as flutes and foils are found among
his assets. His house must have been comfortable for the
times, as five of the rooms were carpeted. He probably gave
instruction in his art to John Singleton Copley, who, though
only between thirteen and fourteen years of age at the time
of Smibert's death, must have commenced his art studies
before that, as he painted a picture in oils — a very poor one,
indeed, but still a picture — in his sixteenth year.
Smibert's pictures, so far as my researches have discovered
them, are as follows : —
Margaret Savage Alford. — She was born in 1702, and died
in 1784. She was the wife of the Hon. John Alford. The portrait
is twenty-nine inches by twenty-four inches, and represents the lady
dressed in a robe cut square in the neck, with ruffles at the sleeves.
Her hair is powdered, and she holds her right hand to her breast.
This picture is in the possession of Mr. Erving Winslow, Boston.
Thomas Ball. — This gentleman was a sea captain, and is known
to have commanded the " Poultney " in 1755, and the " Post Boy " in
the same year. He was believed to be a grandson of Sir Peter Ball
of the Devonshire family of that name.
This picture is of three-quarters length, and represents the captain
as standing in his cabin with a globe and compasses on a table before
him. He is dressed in a brown velvet coat, with ruffles at the neck and
wrists. On his head is a large powdered wig. He was married in
1728 to Elizabeth Davison. He died on the coast of Guinea in 1755,
aged fifty-three years. His estate was estimated at about £2,000.
This picture descended to Hon. William Willis, of Portland, and
from him passed to Mr. Henry H. Edes, of Charlestown, the present
owner, who is also a descendant in the sixth generation.
Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio. — He was born in 1579 ; was
very distinguished both as a churchman and writer. His account of
394 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
the war in Flanders (1633) and his Memoirs (1648) were quite
famous in their time.
The portrait is a copy from the original by Antony Vandyke, and
belongs to Harvard College.
Francis Brinley. — He was born in London in 1690, and mar-
ried Deborah Lyde in 1718. He died at Roxbury in 1765.
This picture is three-quarters length, and life-size. It represents
Mr. Brinley dressed in scarlet, and seated in the open air. In the
distance is a large town, — probably Boston, as his house was at
Mrs. Francis Brinlet. — She was Deborah Lyde, and was born
in Boston. She was a grand-daughter of Judge Byfield, of the Court
This picture is three-quarters length, and of life-size. It represents
the lady dressed in a blue robe, cut down in front to display a beautiful
neck. She is seated in a conservatory. With one of her hands she
supports on her lap her infant sou, Francis, while with the other she
holds a sprig of orange-blossoms, with which she amuses the child.
The infant is quite naked, except a cloth about its waist. " One hand
is extended toward the flowers, and the whole figure is beautifully
painted with all the ease and grace of babyhood."
These pictures were painted in 1729 or 1730, and are in the posses-
sion of a great-grandson, Mr. Edward L. Brinley, of Philadelphia.
Thomas Bulfinch. — He was born in 1694. married Judith Cole-
man in 1724, and died in December, 1757. The portrait is a half-
length, being twenty-nine by twenty-five inches. Mr. Bulfinch is repre-
sented dressed in a black suit, and wears a white wig.
It is in the possession of Mrs. Tasker Swett, Boston.
Mr. Chandler. — This picture is twenty-nine inches high by
twenty-four inches wide. It represents the gentleman dressed in a
single-breasted gray coat with black cuffs and buttons, a powdered
wig, and a white muslin neckcloth. In his left hand he holds a
Mrs. Chandler. — She was the wife of the above-mentioned
gentleman, and is painted attired in a green over-dress trimmed with
lace. The dress is opened in front, fastened with gold clasps, and
shows a black scarf which goes over the head, on which is a lace cap.
The hair is dressed without powder, and in her right hand she holds a
Mary Chandler, daughter of this couple, married Benjamin Greene,
the son of Nathaniel Greene.
These pictures are in the possession of Mrs. Franklin Dexter, of
Benjamin Colman, D.D. — He was born in 1676; received his
degree of A.B. from Harvard College in 1692; was pastor of Brattle
1878.] PORTRAITS BY SMIBERT. 395
Street Church from 1699 to 1747, when he died. Smibert painted
this picture in 1734.
It is now in the possession of Harvard College.
Governor John Endicott. — He was born in 1589, and died in
1 655. He was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for six
years. This portrait was copied by Smibert, from one taken from
life, in 1737.
It is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Peter Faneuil. — This well-known gentleman, the donor of the
hall that bears his name to the city of Boston, was born in the year
The portrait is three-quarters length and life-size. It represents a
fine-lookiug man of middle age, dressed in a light coat of the fashion
of the day. He wears a white wig with short curls.
It is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Rev. Joshua Gee. — He was born in 1698, ordained in 1723, and
died in 1748. The portrait is half-length and life-size. He wears the
black gown of a clergyman and a white wig.
Mrs. Joshua Gee. — She was Anna, daughter of John Gerrish.
This is a companion portrait to that of her husband, half-length and
Both are now in the possession of the Historical Society.
Judge John Gerrish. — The size of this picture is thirty by twenty-
five inches, and it is three-quarters length. The dress of the figure is
of a brown color, with wig and bands. He was a Judge of the Supreme
Court of the New Hampshire plantation in 1714.
The portrait is in the possession of his great-great-grand-daughter,
Miss Sarah D. Barrett, of Boston.
Stephen Greenleaf. — He was Sheriff of Suffolk, and was born
in 1705. A portrait of him painted by Smibert is in the possession of
Mrs. Greenleaf Bulfinch, of Cambridge.
Mrs. Stephen Greenleaf. — She was Mary Gould, and was born
in 1712, and died in 17530. The figure is three-quarters length, and
she is represented standing, dressed in a silk robe of a shade which
the French call " shadow of gold." The sleeves are trimmed with very
handsome English point lace. Her hair is black, dressed close, and
decorated with a bow and a string of pearls. Her right hand is ex-
tended, seeming to rest on her hoop. In her left hand she holds a
white fan. The whole pose of the figure is striking. In the back-
ground, through an open window, is a view of some trees, a blue sky,
and some low clouds. The picture was painted about the year 1740.
It is in the possession of Mrs. Robert E. Apthorp, of Boston.
Loring Picture. — This work represents two children, a boy and
a girl, said to be twins. They are dressed in white caps and robes.
396 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
The size of the picture is thirty inches long by twenty-five inches
It is in the possession of a member of the family, Mr. Francis C.
Loring, of Boston.
Hon. Benjamin Ltnde. — He was the sixth son of Simeon Lynde,
who was an associate justice of the Province with Colonel Shrimpton.
He was born in Boston, Sept. 23, 1666, and was graduated at Harvard
College in 1 686. He was educated for the bar at the Middle Temple,
London. He married April 27, 1699, Mary, the daughter of the Hon.
William Brown, of Salem ; and her picture, painted in England by
Sir Godfrey Kneller, is in the possession of Dr. Oliver, of Boston.
Judge Lynde was appointed to the Bench in 1712, and was Chief
Justice of the Province from 1728 until his death in 1745, at the age
This portrait was painted in 1738, and represents the Judge dressed
in a dark -green velvet coat with gold buttons. On his head is a judge's
wig, with lappets falling to the breast. The picture, which is half-
length, in an oval, is very well painted. The expression is dignified and
venerable, without being stiff".
The picture is in the possession of Dr. F. E. Oliver, of Boston.
Hon. Benjamin Lynde. — This portrait of the Judge is also by
Smibert. It is quite a remarkable picture, and one in which the
artist seems to have excelled himself. " Competent judges have pro-
nounced this to be the best male portrait ever painted by Smibert."
It is said that Smibert was introduced to Chief Justice Lynde, in
England, by his cousin the Earl of Bristol, for whom he painted
several pictures. It is known, also, that, when Smibert came to
America, he was a guest of the Chief Justice. These circumstances
will account for the extraordinary pains bestowed on this picture,
which is in the possession of a descendant, Mrs. William B. Richards,
Hon. Benjamin Lynde, Jr. — He was born Oct. 5, 1700. Was
graduated at Harvard College in 1718, and married Mary, daughter
of Major John Bowles, Nov. 1, 1731. He was appointed to the
Common Pleas Bench in 1739, became Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, and died Oct. 9, 1781. The picture was painted about
1738. It is a half-length, in an oval, and represents Judge Lynde in
middle life. His dress is a brown velvet coat, opened to show the
waistcoat underneath. The cravat is drawn through a buttonhole.
A white wig completes his costume.
Madam Benjamin Lynde. — She was Mary, daughter of John
Bowles, of Roxbury, and was born Sept. 6, 1709 ; was married to the
Hon. Benjamin Lynde, Jr., Nov. 1, 1731 ; and died May 3, 1790.
She was the great-great-grand-daughter of John Eliot, the Apostle to
the Indians and the translator of the Bible into their language. This
portrait is a half-length, in an oval, and represents a lady of about
twenty-eight years of age, dressed in a scarlet velvet robe. Her hair
1878.] PORTRAITS BY SMIBERT. 397
is worn short. She has a fine expression, and the flesh tints are better
painted than in most of Smibert's pictures.
These pictures are in the possession of Dr. F. E. Oliver, of Boston.
James McSparran, D. D. — He arrived as a missionary at Narra-
gansett in 1720, and commenced his work at St. Paul's Church,
Kingston. In 1722, he married Hannah, daughter of William Gar-
diner, Esq. Dr. McSparran was a voluminous and powerful writer,
and, as a preacher, exceedingly eloquent and persuasive. He received
the degree of " D. D." from the University of Glasgow. This portrait
represents him as a fine-looking man of about forty-five years of age.
He wears a black silk gown, white bands, and a white wig.
Mrs. James McSparran. — She is represented in this picture as
a very handsome woman. Her hair, which is dark brown, is dressed
without powder, with a long curl falling upon her shoulder. Her eyes,
which are dark, are particularly fine. She is dressed in blue. Mrs.
McSparran was always remarkable for her beauty, and was known by
the sobriquet of "handsome Hannah." These two pictures are square,
half-length, the portraits being painted in an oval.
They are in the possession of Mrs. Dr. Elton, of Dorchester.
Hon. Daniel Oliver. — He was a son of Captain Peter Oliver,
and was born 28th of February, 1664, and died July 23, 1732.
Madam Daniel Oliver. — The wife of the preceding was a sister
of Governor Belcher. She was born Jan. 12, 1678, was married in
April, 1696, and died in 1735. These pictures are three-quarters
Oliver Family. — Daniel Oliver, Jr., was born Jan. 14, 1704,
and died in London, July 5, 1727.
Hon. Andrew Oliver, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, was
born March 28, 1706, married for his first wife, 20th of June, 1728,
Mary twitch, and his second wife was Mary Sanford, sister of Mrs.
Hutchinson. Governor Oliver died March 3, 1774.
Hon. Peter Oliver, Chief Justice of the Province, was born 26th of
March, 1713, and died in Birmingham, England, 13th of October,
This group represents the three sons of the Hon. Daniel Oliver.
They are dressed in costume appropriate to young gentlemen of that
day, — the picture being painted about the year 1730.
Madam Andrew Oliver. — She was the daughter of the Hon.
Thomas Fitch; was born 28th of October, 1706, and died 26th of
November, 1732. This portrait is of three-quarters length, and was
painted in 1730.
The above-described pictures are in the possession of a member of
the family, Dr. F. E. Oliver, of Boston.
Otis Family. — There were two portraits, said to be by Smibert, in
the possession of the late Allyne Otis, of Newport.
398 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
Andrew Pepperell. — He was the son of the first Sir William
Pepperell, and was drowned in Portsmouth Harbor in 1751. He is
represented dressed in a square-cut brown coat, with lace ruffles and
cravat, and his hair is without powder. In his right hand he holds
This picture is in the possession of Mr. Erving Winslow, of Boston.
Judge Edmund Quinct. — The figure is of half-length and life-
size. It represents the subject dressed in the official robe and wig of
an English judge.
The following memorandum, by Miss Eliza Susan Quincy, seems of
such interest that the writer concludes to copy it entire : —
"Edmund Quincy, born in Braintree, Massachusetts Bay, Oct. 4, 1681.
The son of Edmund Quincy (1627-1698) by his second marriage with
Elizabeth Gookin Eliot, daughter of General D. Gookin, and widow
of Rev. John Eliot, the eldest son of the Apostle to the Indians.
" Edmund Quincy graduated at Harvard College, 1 699. He inherited
the estate at Mount Wollaston, granted by the town of Boston, 1635,
to his grandfather, Edmund Quincy, of England, and purchased by
him of Chickatabot, the Sachem of the Massachusetts Indians. In
1701, he married Dorothy Flynt, daughter of Rev. Josiah Flynt, of
Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay. He enlarged the house of his father in
which he resided, and made the walk and canal near it, which remain
in good preservation (1878).
"In 1713, he was commissioned, by Governor Dudley, Colonel of the
Suffolk Regiment. Commissioned a Judge of the Supreme Court of
Judicature in Massachusetts Bay, by Governor Shute, in 1718. Re-
commissioned by Governor Burnet in 1728, and in 1733 by Governor
Belcher. He held the office of a Judge of the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts Bay nineteen years, until he was appointed agent for
the Colony at the Court of Great Britain, 1737. He died Feb. 23,
1738, aged fifty-seven years. The General Assembly of Massachusetts
Bay erected a marble monument over his grave in Bunhill-Fields,
with a Latin inscription, which, in the translation, terminates as fol-
lows : —
" ' He departed the delight of his own people, but of none more than the
Senate, who, as a testimony of their love and gratitude, have ordered this
Epitaph to be inscribed on his monument.
" ' He died in London, Feb. 23, 1738, aged 57 years.'
" The General Assembly gave to his heirs one thousand acres of
land in the town of Lenox, Massachusetts Bay.
" Judge Edmund Quincy left his home farm and the house in which
he resided to his eldest son, Edmund (H. C. 1722). To his youngest
son, Josiah (H. C. 1728), his lower farm of about three hundred acres,
which became the property and residence of his great-grandson, Josiah
Quincy (1790), and in 1878 is yet in his family.
" John Smibert painted two portraits of Judge E. Quincy ; the date
is not precisely known, but must have been 1737, and probably ear-
lier. The portrait inherited by the late Josiah Quincy (1772-1864)
1878.] PORTRAITS BY SMIBBRT. 399
was presented by his children, in 1876, to the Art Museum in
" The other portrait was for many years in the possession of the late
Edmund Quincy,of Dedham (1808-1877), by whom it was bequeathed
to his eldest son, Edmund Quincy, in 1878, its present owner."
Thomas Savage. — He died young, about 1710. This picture is
twenty-nine inches by twenty-four inches, and represents a youth
wearing a dressing-gown, lace cravat, and seated on a stool. In his
left hand he holds a flower.
It is in the possession of Mr. Erving "Winslow.
Joseph Sewall, D. D. — He was pastor of the Old South Church,
and a son of the Chief Justice. This picture is a half-length, and
represents Dr. Sewall as a young man with long flowing brown hair.
He is dressed in his robes and bands.
The portrait is in the possession of his descendants, the Salisbury
family of Boston.
Chief Justice Sewall. — This is a very large picture, representing
the Judge in extreme old age. Indeed, he died soon after Smibert's
first visit to Boston as a guest of Chief Justice Lynde, and it would
seem not improbable that, owing to the success of Chief Justice Lynde's
portrait, Judge Sewall was induced to sit. This picture is in the pos-
session of his descendants, the Misses Ridgway, of Boston.
Mrs. John Smibert, the Artist's Wife. — This portrait represents
a pretty young woman with dark hair and eyes. She is dressed in a
green robe. It is a half-length : the canvas is square, but the portrait is
set in an oval.
It is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
William Tyler. — This picture, a half-length, represents a stout
middle-aged gentleman, in the costume of the time.
It belongs to the New England Historic-Genealogical Society.
It seems worth while to mention, in connection with John
Smibert's pictures, two portraits painted by his son Nathaniel.
These are : —
John Lovell. — He was born in 1708, was graduated from Har-
vard College in 1728, and became the Master of the Boston Latin
School the same year. His career there is famous. He died in 1778.
The portrait is in the possession of Harvard College.
Dorothy Wendell. — This picture is two feet five inches high
by two feet in width. The lady was a daughter of Major John and
Elizabeth (Quincy) Wendell. She was born 19th March, 1733, and
died 3d April, 1822. Major Wendell's house was at the corner of
Tremont and Court Streets. The portrait is in the possession of Dr.
J. L. Hale, of Boston.*
* For Addenda to these pictures, see page 474. — Eds.
400 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
The President read a letter from Captain Patterson, Super-
intendent of the United States Coast Survey, forwarding a
new circular, to be considered a substitute for the communi-
cation presented in June last. He stated also that Captain
Fox, the Chairman of the Committee to which the commu-
nication of the Coast Survey was referred at our June meet-
ing, had sent a letter asking to be excused from further
service, owing to proposed absence from the country. He
then called on Mr. Tuttle to report for that committee. That
gentleman stated that the new circular announced a some-
what radical change of plan on the part of the Coast Survey,
and suggested that the committee should be discharged, and
another appointed to begin the matter de novo. Whereupon
Voted, To discharge the committee appointed June 13th to
consider a communication from the Coast Survey.
The President then appointed, as a new committee on this
subject, Messrs. Tuttle, Green, and C. F. Adams, Jr. ; and
the circular from Captain Patterson was referred to them.
The new circular letter here follows : —
Coast and Geodetic Survey Office,
Washington, Dec. 1, 1878.
Dear Sib, — Many complaints have been made by persons inter-
ested in the geographical nomenclature of this country, that the names
of mountains, headlands, streams, islands, small towns, &c, &c, pos-
sessing historical interest and value, or which have been established
for generations, orally or by record, are capriciously and arbitrarily
changed ; and this office is appealed to in reference to establishing and
maintaining the true names by adopting them upon its charts and
To determine the correct names for the geographical features of our
country is frequently perplexing from the cause complained of, as well
as from the repetition and multiplication of names, and also in many
cases from their absence.
It is in the interest of the public service that the true names should
be ascertained and adhered to unalterably ; and this office will, within
the sphere of its duties, be glad to contribute to such a result.
Generally the names used by the Survey are those which the estab-
lished usage of the locality has settled upon. When such are found to
be confirmed by history and the public records, they ought not to be
changed by any authority whatever.
It is manifestly impossible for the Survey to investigate exhaustively
the subject of nomenclature throughout the country, although every
effort within our means is made to be correct.
It would greatly aid the object in view if organized societies inter-
ested in the subject would examine specified charts issued by this
office. These, if applied for, will be sent, on condition that the observed
1878.] PEQUOT INDIANS. 401
errors or omissions m names be marked, and proofs in regard to them
furnished to the Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey,
Washington, D. C. In this way, the accuracy of the charts issued by
this office will be more firmly established in public estimation, and
their value accordingly increased.
I take this occasion to refer to the general nomenclature in use.
The confusion arising from the causes named, and cases of individual
variety, could be obviated certainly with regard to the physical features
of the country, if some of the State societies would interest themselves
in discussing and proposing some uniform system of applying, as far as
possible, names where none have been established by long usage.
The Government, in its different Departments", makes great use of
aboriginal, the old English, French, and Spanish names. The first are
inexhaustible in number, euphonious, and always significant appella-
tives descriptive of the locality. In all parts of our country, these
names abound, though the races who used them have ceased to exist.
To rescue many of these beautiful names from oblivion, to restore and
reapply them to their ancient localities, under proper supervision,
would seem to offer a common ground for establishing and maintain-
ing a uniform system of nomenclature commending itself to public
Very respectfully, C. P. Patterson,
Supt. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
The President exhibited from his family papers some origi-
nal lists of Indian names. One of these, an agreement on the
part of the captive Pequot Indians to remove to such place
as might be selected by the Commissioners of the United
Colonies, possessed interest as having attached to many of
the names the marks made by the Indians themselves as
This agreement here follows : * —
* In 1654, the Connecticut authorities found it advisable to attack Ninigrett,
who had commenced war with the Long Island Indians. They brought the
matter to the attention of the Commissioners at their meeting at Hartford in
September; and these, after sending a messenger to the sachem, who brought
back an unsatisfactory reply, decided to send a force from the United Colonies
against him. The command was given to Major Willard. The story of his
expedition, which accomplished little or nothing, is told in " Trumbull's Con-
necticut," vol. i. pp. 222, 223, and in the " Records of the Commissioners." The
narrative of Major Willard, printed in the latter, says (" Plymouth Colony
Records," vol. x. p. 147) : " This day [Oct. 16th] there came in to vs, and gaue
in theire names, to the number of 73. The 17th day there came in to vs more
Pequotes that liued near to Ninnegrett, which before wee comaunded to bringe
away theire house and goods, which thinge they did, and gaue in theire names
as the rest did, to the number of 36." The text of the agreement also is given
in Willard's narrative. The original paper signed by these Indians is the one
from which we print. It is indorsed in the handwriting of John Winthrop,
Jr., Governor of Connecticut. " The names of the Pequots at Pakatuck and
Waquepage taken by Major Willard." A heliotype of it is also given here.
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Pacquatuck, 16th October, 1654.
Wee whose names are vnderwritten, being Captiue Pequotts and
tributaryes to y e English, and hauing liued sometimes under y e gtection
of Ninigrett, doe freely consent to y* Comissioners of y e Vnited Eng-
lish Colonyes to remooue to such places as y e s a Comissioners doe or
shall appoint us, and doe hereby disowne y e jurisdiction of Ninigrett
ouer us, and y* wee intend really so to doe, wee haue giuen in o'
seuerall names w th o r owne markes affixed. Ffurther, wee doe hereby
engage o'selues hereafter nott to joyne in any warr w ,h Ninigrett or
any others w' h outt y e full and free consent of y e Comissioners of y*
Vnited English Colonyes.
mattawo mpsett .
Ninigrett's Pequotts : —
Y e totall is but 108.
17th October, 1654.
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1878.] ME. MOTLEY'S MEMOIR. 403
The President called attention to the prospectus for the
third session of the " Congres International des Americanistes,"
to be held at Brussels in September next ; and to a serial of
our own Proceedings containing the records of the September
and October meetings, copies of which were upon the table
Dr. Holmes, through Mr. Winthrop, announced that
the Memoir of John Lothrop Motley, which he had been
appointed to prepare, would be published immediately, by
Messrs. Houghton, Osgood, & Co., as had been agreed by
the committee to whom their application for this privilege,
made in June last, was referred. As the Memoir had grown
to a size greater than was expected at first, Dr. Holmes had
revised the original draft, and had made numerous omissions
so as to bring it within limits suited to publication also in the
Proceedings ; and he now laid on the table an abridgment
which he had prepared for that purpose.
404 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
HON. JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY, LL.D.
BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, M.D.
John Motley, the great-grandfather of the subject of this
Memoir, came in the earlier part of the last century from
Belfast in Ireland to Falmouth, now Portland, in the District,
now the State, of Maine. He was twice married, and had
ten children, four of the first marriage and six of the last.
Thomas, the youngest son by his first wife, married Emma,
a daughter of John Wait, the first Sheriff of Cumberland
County under the government of the United States. Two
of their seven sons, Thomas and Edward, removed from
Portland to Boston in 1802, and established themselves as
partners in commercial business, continuing united and pros-
perous for nearly half a century before the firm was dis-
The earlier records of New England have preserved the
memory of an incident which deserves mention, as showing
how the historian's life was saved by a quick-witted hand-
maid, more than a hundred years before he was born.
On the 29th of August, 1708, the French and Indians from
Canada made an attack upon the town of Haverhill, in Mas-
sachusetts. Thirty or forty persons were slaughtered, and
many others were carried captive into Canada.
The minister of the town, Rev. Benjamin Rolfe, was killed
by a bullet through the door of his house. Two of his
daughters, Mary, aged thirteen, and Elizabeth, aged nine,
were sleeping in a room with the maid-servant, Hagar. When
Hagar heard the whoop of the savages, she seized the chil-
dren, ran with them into the cellar, and, after concealing
them under two large wash-tubs, hid herself. The Indians
ransacked the cellar, but missed the prey. Elizabeth, the
Copyright, 1879, by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
1878.J MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 405
younger of the two girls, grew up and mamed the Rev.
Samuel Checkley, first minister of the " New South " Church,
Boston. Her son, Rev. Samuel Checkley, Junior, was min-
ister of the Second Church, and his successor, Rev. John
Lothrop, or Lathrop, as it was more commonly spelled, mar-
ried his daughter. Dr. Lothrop was great-grandson of Rev.
John Lothi-op, of Scituate, who had been imprisoned in Eng-
land for nonconformity. The Checkleys were from Preston
Capes, in Northamptonshire. The name is probably identical
with that of the Chicheles or Chichleys, a well-known North-
Thomas Motley married Anna, daughter of the Rev. John
Lothrop, grand-daughter of the Rev. Samuel Checkley,
Junior, the Boston ministers mentioned above, both honored
in their day and generation. Eight children were born of
this marriage, of whom four are still living.
John Lothrop Motley, the second of these children, was
born in Dorchester, now a part of Boston, Massachusetts, on
the 15th of April, 1814. A member of his family gives a
most pleasing and interesting picture, from his own recol-
lections and from what his mother told him, of the child-
hood which was to develop into such rich maturity. The
boy was rather delicate in organization, and not much given
to outdoor amusements, except skating and swimming, of
which last exercise he was very fond in his younger days,
and in which he excelled. He was a great reader, never idle,
but always had a book in his hand, — a volume of poetry or
one of the novels of Scott or Cooper. His fondness for plays
and declamation is illustrated by the story told by a younger
brother, who remembers being wrapped up in a shawl and
kept quiet by sweetmeats, while he figured as the dead
Caesar, and his brother, the future historian, delivered the
speech of Antony over his prostrate body. He was of a
most sensitive nature, easily excited, but not tenacious of any
irritated feelings, with a quick sense of honor, and the most
entirely truthful child, his mother used to say, that she had
ever seen. Such are some of the recollections of those who
knew him in his earliest years and in the most intimate
His father's family was living at this time in the house
No. 7 Walnut Street, looking down Chestnut Street, over the
water to the western hills. Near by were the residences of
Hon. John Phillips, the first Mayor of the City of Boston,
and of Mr. Nathan Appleton, widety known and honorably
406 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
remembered as a leader in our manufactures, and an influen-
tial member of Congress. Young Motley's early pla) r mates
were two boj r s whose names have since become familiar to
the public, — Thomas Gold Appleton and Wendell Phillips.
One of their favorite amusements was acting in certain melo-
dramas of their own concoction, in which the boy historian,
the wit of later days, and the embryo orator might have been
seen enacting the parts of heroes and bandits in costumes
more or less appropriate to their assumed characters.
Both these early companions of Motley have favored me
with their recollections of him at that time and in after years.
From his father he seems to have inherited the playful and
satirical element which always belonged to him, from his
mother a sensitive and affectionate nature; from both, per-
sonal gifts of a remarkably attractive quality, for both were
noted for their beauty, and the mother especially for a noble
and benignant presence. Young Motley was tall, graceful
in movement and gesture, and eminently handsome. His
literary turn showed itself very early, for at about the age of
eleven he began writing a novel, of which two chapters were
finished, but which seems to have come to a premature end,
like many of his early efforts.
During the years 1822 and 1823, or a part of them, Motley
was a scholar in the Boston Latin School. At the first
annual dinner of the Latin School Association in 1876, he
sent the following letter in reply to an invitation to be pres-
ent on that occasion : —
5 Seamore Place, Mayfair,
London, 21 Oct. '76.
Dear Sir, — Your letter of 9 Oct. inviting me to a dinner on
8 Nov. next of the Boston Latin School Association, in celebration of
the one hundredth anniversary of the reopening of the school after the
evacuation of Boston by the British, was received yesterday.
Although I am quite unable to be present with you on this inter-
esting occasion, yet believe me that I am very deeply touched at being
so kindly remembered. It would have been most agreeable to me to
meet the Association, and among them some of my old schoolmates,
now honored and well-beloved friends.
I should have liked to write more fully, but the condition of my
health makes it difficult for me to write at all. But I wish at least
in these few words to join my humble testimony with that of all lovers
of sound learning and generous culture to the high merits of our
ancient public school, still second to none in the country, as I firmly
believe, in the capacity to lay the groundwork of a thorough and accu-
rate classical education, the love of which I sincerely trust may never
perish among us.
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 407
For one I have been accustomed my life long to express my grati-
tude for the excellent teachings imparted at the school, in the days of
Mr. Gould and Mr. Leverett when I had the privilege of being a
member of it, and my constant regret for having so insufficiently
profited by them.
With renewed thanks for the honor of your invitation, and most
sincere wishes for the continued prosperity of the Boston Latin School,
I am, dear sir, very respectfully yours,
J. Lothrop Motley.
Joseph Healt, Esq., Secretary.
After passing a year at Mr. Green's school at Jamaica
Plain, he went to the school at Round Hill, Northampton,
then under the care of Mr. Cogswell and Mr. Bancroft.
While there, he was noted for his facility in acquiring lan-
guages, for his excellence as a reader and a writer, and was
naturally much admired and flattered. He learned with
great ease and rapidity, and was disposed to follow his own
bent in his studies rather than to keep closely to his text-
books. While at this school, he acquired a knowledge of the
German language and its literature, which was a rare accom-
plishment in the school-boys of that period.
At the age of thirteen, he entered Harvard College. The
ease with which he learned gave him a high rank during the
first year, but later in his college life betrayed him into negli-
gence of his studies, so that at last he was sent away for a
time. He came back sobered down, and studied rather
more diligently, but without trying for college rank.
He was not what is called a popular young man, in spite
of the brilliant qualities recognized by his fellow-collegians.
His fastidiousness no doubt betrayed itself in his manners
with those whom he did not like. His mind was full of
projects which kept him in an excited and unnatural con-
" He had a small writing-table," Mr. Phillips says, " with
a shallow drawer ; I have often seen it half full of sketches,
unfinished poems, soliloquies, a scene or two of a play, prose
portraits of some pet character, etc. These he would read to
me, though he never volunteered to do so, and every now and
then he burnt the whole, and began to fill the drawer again."
My friend, Mr. John Osborne Sargent, who was a year
before him in college, says, in a very interesting letter with
which he has favored me : —
" My first acquaintance with him [Motley] was at Cambridge, when
he came there from Mr. Cogswell's school at Round Hill. He then had
a good deal of the shyness that was just pronounced enough to make
408 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
him interesting, and which did not entirely wear off till he left col-
lege. ... I soon became acquainted with him, and we used to take
long walks together, sometimes taxing each other's memory for poems
or passages from poems that had struck our fancy. Shelley was then
a great favorite of his, and I remember that Praed's verses, then
appearing in the ' .New Monthly,' he thought very clever and brilliant,
and was fond of repeating them. You have forgotten, or perhaps
never knew, that Motley's first appearance in print was in ' The Colle-
gian.' He brought me one day, in a very modest mood, a translation
from Goethe, which I was most happy to oblige him by inserting.
It was very prettily done, and will now be a curiosity. . . . How it
happened that Motley wrote only one piece I do not remember."
I gather some other interesting facts from a letter which I
have received from his early playmate and school and college
classmate, Mr. T. G. Appleton : —
" In his Sophomore year, he kept abreast of the prescribed studies,
but his heart was out of bounds, as it often had been at Round Hill
when chasing squirrels or rabbits through forbidden forests. Already
his historical interest was shaping his life. A tutor coming — by
chance, let us hope — to his room, remonstrated with him upon the
heaps of novels upon his table.
" ' Yes,' said Motley, ' I am reading historically, and have come to
the novels of the nineteenth century. Taken in the lump, they are
very hard reading.' "
All Old Cambridge people know the Brattle House, with
its gambrel roof, its tall trees, its perennial spring, its legen-
dary fame of good fare and hospitable board in the days of
the kindly old bon vivant, Major Brattle. In this house the
two young students, Appleton and Motley, lived during a
part of their college course.
" Motley's room was on the ground-floor, the room to the left of the
entrance. He led a very pleasant life there, tempering his college
duties with the literature he loved, and receiving his friends amidst
elegant surroundings, which added to the charm of his society. Occa-
sionally we amused ourselves by writing for the magazines and papers
of the day. Mr. Willis had just started a slim monthly, written
chiefly by himself, but with the true magazine flavor. We wrote for
that, and sometimes verses in the corner of a paper called ' The Anti-
Masonic Mirror,' in which corner was a woodcut of Apollo, inviting
to destruction ambitious youths by the legend underneath,
' Much yet remains unsung.'
These pieces were usually dictated to each other, the poet recumbent
upon the bed and a classmate ready to carry off the manuscript for the
paper of the following day. ' Blackwood's ' was then in its glory, its
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 409
pages redolent of ' mountain dew,' in every sense ; the humor of the
Shepherd, the elegantly brutal onslaughts upon Whigs and Cockney
poets by Christopher North, intoxicated us youths.
" It was young writing, and made for the young. The opinions
were charmingly wrong, and its enthusiasm was half Glenlivet. But
this delighted the boys. There were no reprints then, and to pass the
paper-cutter up the fresh inviting pages was like swinging over the
heather arm in arm with Christopher himself. It is a little singular
that, though we had a college magazine of our own, Motley rarely if
ever wrote for it. I remember a translation from Goethe, ' The Ghost-
Seer,' which he may have written for it, and a poem upon the White
Mountains. Motley spoke at one of the college exhibitions an Essay
on Goethe so excellent that Mr. Joseph Cogswell sent it to Madame
Goethe, who, after reading it, said, ' I wish to see the first book that
young man will write.'"
Although Motley did not aim at or attain a high college
rank, the rules of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which confine
the number of members to the first sixteen of each class,
were stretched so as to include him ; a tribute to his recog-
nized ability, and an evidence that a distinguished future was
anticipated for him.
Of the two years divided between the Universities of Ber-
lin and Gottingen I have little to record. That he studied
hard I cannot doubt ; that he found himself in pleasant
social relations with some of his fellow-students seems prob-
able from the portraits he has drawn in his first story, " Mor-
ton's Hope," and is - rendered certain so far as one of his
companions is concerned. Among the records of the past to
which he referred during his last visit to this country was a
letter which he took from a collection of papers and handed
me to read one day when I was visiting him. The letter was
written in a very lively and exceedingly familiar vein. It
implied such intimacy, and called up in such a lively way the
gay times Motley and himself had had together in their
youthful days, that I was puzzled to guess who could have
written to him from Germany in that easy and off-hand
fashion. I knew most of his old friends who would be like
to call him by his baptismal name in its most colloquial form,
and exhausted my stock of conjectures unsuccessfully before
looking at the signature. I confess that I was surprised, after
laughing at the hearty and almost boyish tone of the letter,
to read at the bottom of the page the signature of Bismarck.
I will not say that I suspect Motley of having drawn the
portrait of his friend in one of the characters of " Morton's
Hope," but it is not hard to point out traits in one of them
410 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
which we can believe may have belonged to the great Chan-
cellor at an earlier period of life than that at which the world
contemplates his overshadowing proportions.
Hoping to learn something of Motley during the two years
when we lost sight of him, I addressed a letter to His High-
ness Prince Bismarck, to which I received the following
reply : —
Foreign Office, Berlin, March 11, 1878.
Sir, — I am directed by Prince Bismarck to acknowledge the
receipt of your letter of the 1st of January, relating to the biography
of the late Mr. Motley. His Highness deeply regrets (hat the state
of his health and pressure of business do not allow him to contribute
personally, and as largely as he would be lelighted to do, to your
depicting of a friend whose memory will be ev er dear to him. Since I
had the pleasure of making the acquaintance if Mr. Motley at Varzin,
I have been intrusted with communicating to 7ou a few details I have
gathered from the mouth of the Prince. I ei close them as they are
jotted down, without any attempt at digestion.
I have the h >nor to be
Your cbedient servant,
Prince Bismarck said : I met Motley at Gottingen in 1832,
I am not sure if at the beginning of Eastei Term or Michael-
mas Term. He kept company with German students, though
more addicted to study than we members of the fighting
clubs (: corps :). Although not having mastered yet the
German language, he exercised a markei attraction by a
conversation sparkling with wit, humor, anl originality. In
autumn of 1833, having both of us migrate d from Gottingen
to Berlin for the prosecution of our studies, ve became fellow-
lodgers in the house No. 161 Friedrich Sirasse. There we
lived in the closest intimacy, sharing m< als and outdoor
exercise. Motley by that time had arrivec at talking Ger-
man fluently; he occupied himself not only in translating
Goethe's poem " Faust," but tried his hand even in composing
German verses. Enthusiastic admirer of SI akspeare, Byron,
Goethe, he used to spice his conversation abundantly with
quotations from these his favorite authors. A pertinacious
arguer, so much so that sometimes he watched my awakening
in order to continue a discussion on some topic of science,
poetry, or practical life, cut short by the chi me of the small
hours, he never lost his mild and amiable ten iper. Our faith-
ful companion was Count Alexander Keygetling, a native of
Courland, who has since achieved distinction as a botanist.
Motley having entered the diplomatic se'vice of his coun-
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHKOP MOTLEY. 411
try, we had frequently the opportunity of renewing our
friendly intercourse ; at Frankfurt he used to stay with me,
the welcome guest of my wife ; we also met at Vienna, and,
later, here. The last time I saw him was in 1872 at Varzin,
at the celebration of my "silver wedding," viz., the 25th
The most striking feature of his handsome and delicate
appearance was uncommonly large and beautiful eyes. He
never entered a drawing-room without exciting the curiosity
and sympathy of the ladies.
It is but a glimpse of their young life that the great states-
man gives us, but a bright and pleasing one. Here were
three students, one of whom was to range in the flowery
fields of the loveliest of the sciences, another to make the
dead past live over again in his burning pages, and a third to
extend an empire, as the botanist spread out a plant and the
historian laid open a manuscript.
Of the years passed in the study of Law after his return
from Germany I have very little recollection, and nothing of
importance to record. He never became seriously engaged
in the practice of the profession he had chosen. I had known
him pleasantly rather than intimately, and our different call-
ings tended to separate us. I met him, however, not very
rarely, at one house where we were both received with the
greatest cordiality, and where the attractions brought to-
gether many both young and old to enjoy the society of its
charming and brilliant inmates. This was at number 14
Temple Place, where Mr. Park Benjamin was then living
with his two sisters, both in the bloom of young womanhood.
Here Motley found the wife to whom his life owed so much
of its success and its happiness. He was married to Mary
Elizabeth Benjamin on the 2d of March, 1837. His intimate
friend, Mr. Joseph Lewis Stackpole, was married at about
the same time to her sister, thus joining still more closely in
friendship the two young men who were already like brothers
in their mutual affections.
Two years after his marriage, in 1839, appeared his first
work, a novel in two volumes, called " Morton's Hope." He
had little reason to be gratified with its reception. The gen-
eral verdict was not favorable to it, and the leading critical
journal of America, not usually harsh or cynical in its treat-
ment of native authorship, did not even give it a place among
its " Critical Notices," but dropped a small-print extinguisher
412 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
upon it in one of the pages of its " List of New Publications."
Nothing could be more utterly disheartening than the critical
sentence passed upon the story. At the same time, the critic
says that " no one can read ' Morton's Hope ' without per-
ceiving it to have been written by a person of uncommon
resources of mind and scholarship."
It must be confessed that, as a story, " Morton's Hope "
cannot endure a searching or even a moderately careful an-
alysis. It is wanting in cohesion, in character, even in a
proper regard to circumstances of time and place ; it is a map
of dissected incidents which has been flung out of its box
and has arranged itself without the least regard to chronology
or geography. It is not difficult to trace in it many of the
influences which had helped in forming or deforming the
mind of the young man of twenty-five not yet come into pos-
session of his full inheritance of the slowly ripening qualities
which were yet to assert their robust independence. How
could he help admiring Byron and falling into more or less
unconscious imitation of his moods, if not of his special affec-
tations ? Passion showing itself off against a dark foil of
cynicism ; sentiment, ashamed of its own self-betrayal, and
sneering at itself from time to time for fear of the laugh of the
world at its sincerity, — how many young men were spoiled
and how many more injured by becoming bad copies of a bad
ideal ! The blood of Don Juan ran in the veins of Vivian
Grey and Pelham. But read the fantastic dreams of Disraeli,
the intellectual dandyisms of Bulvver, remembering the after
careers of which they were the preludes, and we can under-
stand how there might well be something in those earlier
efforts which would betray itself in the way of thought and
in the style of the young men who read them during the
plastic period of their minds and characters. Allow for all
these influences, allow for whatever impressions his German
residence and his familiarity with German literature had pro-
duced ; accept the fact that the story is to the last degree
disjointed, improbable, impossible ; la,y it aside as a complete
failure in what it attempted to be, and read it, as " Vivian
Grey " is now read, in the light of the career which it her-
" Morton's Hope " is not to be read as a novel : it is to be
studied as an autobiography, a prophecy, a record of aspira-
tions, disguised under a series of incidents which are flung
together with no more regard to the unities than a pack of
The ideal picture he has drawn is only a fuller portraiture
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 413
of the youth whose outlines have been already sketched by
the companions of his earlier years. If his hero says, " I
breakfasted with a pen behind my ear, and dined in company
with a folio bigger than the table," one of his family says of
the boy Motley that " if there were five minutes before din-
ner, when he came into the parlor he always took up some
book near at hand and began to read until dinner was
announced." The same unbounded thirst for knowledge, the
same history of various attempts and various failures, the
same ambition, not yet fixed in its aim, but showing itself in
restless effort, belong to the hero of the stoiy and its narrator.
Let no man despise the first efforts of immature genius.
Nothing can be more crude as a novel, nothing more disap-
pointing, than " Morton's Hope." But in no other of Motley's
writings do we get such an inside view of his character, with
its varied impulses, its capricious appetites, its unregulated
forces, its impatient grasp for all kinds of knowledge. With
all his university experiences at home and abroad, it might
be said with a large measure of truth that he was a self-
educated man, as he had been a self-taught boy. His in-
stincts were too powerful to let him work quietly in the
common round of school and college training. Looking at
him as his companions describe him, as he delineates himself
rnutato nomine, the chances of success would have seemed to
all but truly prophetic eyes very doubtful, if not decidedly
against him. Too many brilliant young novel-readers and
lovers of poetry, excused by their admirers for their short-
comings on the strength of their supposed birthright of
" genius," have ended where they began ; flattered into the
vain belief that they were men at eighteen or twenty, and
finding out at fifty that they were and always had been noth-
ing more than boys. It was but a tangled skein of life that
Motley's book showed us at twenty-five, and older men might
Iwell have doubted whether it would ever be wound off in
any continuous thread. To repeat his own words, he had
crowded together the materials for his work, but he had no
pattern, and consequently never began to weave.
The more this first work of Motley's is examined, the more
are its faults as a story and its interest as a self-revelation
made manifest to the reader. The future historian, who
spared no pains to be accurate, falls into the most extraordi-
nary anachronisms in almost every chapter. Brutus in a bob-
wig, Othello in a swallow-tail coat, could hardly be more
incongruously equipped than some of his characters in the
manner of thought, the phrases, the way of bearing them-
414 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
selves, which belong to them in the tale, but never could
have belonged to characters of our Revolutionary period.
He goes so far in his carelessness as to mix up dates in such
a way as almost to prove that he never looked over his own
manuscript or proofs.
And yet in the midst of all these marks of haste and negli-
gence, here and there the philosophical student of history
betrays himself, the ideal of noble achievement glows in an
eloquent paragraph, or is embodied in a loving portrait like
that of the Professor and Historian Harlem. The novel,
taken in connection with the subsequent developments of the
writer's mind, is a study of singular interest. It is a chaos
before the creative epoch ; the light has not been divided
from the darkness ; the firmament has not yet divided the
waters from the waters. The forces at work in a human
intelligence to bring harmony out of its discordant move-
ments are as mysterious, as miraculous, we might truly say,
as those which give shape and order to the confused materi-
als out of which habitable worlds are made. It is too late
now to be sensitive over this unsuccessful attempt as a story
and unconscious success as a self-portraiture. The first
sketches of Paul Veronese, the first patterns of the Gobelin
tapestry, are not to be criticised for the sake of pointing out
their inevitable and too manifest imperfections. They are to
be carefully studied as the earliest efforts of the hand that
painted the Marriage at Cana, of the art that taught the rude
products of the loom to rival the glowing canvas of the
great painters. None of his subsequent writings give such
an insight into his character and mental history. It took
many years to work the transformation of the as yet undis-
ciplined powers and the unarranged material into the orderly
methods and the organized connection which were needed
to construct a work that should endure. There was a long
interval between Motley's early manhood and the middle
term of life, during which the slow process of evolution was
going on. There are plants which open their flowers with
the first rays of the sun; there are others that wait until
evening to spread their petals. It was already the high noon
of life with him before his genius had truly shown itself ; if
he had not lived beyond this period, he would have left noth-
ing to give him a permanent name.
In the autumn of 1841 Mr. Motley received the appoint-
ment of Secretary of Legation to the Russian Mission, Mr.
Todd being then the Minister. Arriving at St. Petersburg
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHK LOTHROP MOTLEY. 415
just at the beginning of winter, he found the climate acting
very unfavorably upon his spirits, if not upon his health, and
was unwilling that his wife and his two young children should
be exposed to its rigors. The expense of living, also, was
out of proportion to his income, and his letters show that
he had hardly established himself in St. Petersburg before he
had made up his mind to leave a place where he found he
had nothing to do and little to enjoy. He was homesick,
too, as a young husband and father with an affectionate
nature like his ought to have been under these circumstances.
He did not regret having made the experiment, for he knew
that he should not have been satisfied with himself if he had
not made it. It was his first trial of a career in which he
contemplated embarking, and in which he had afterwards an
eventful experience. In his private letters to his family, many
of which I have had the privilege of looking over, he men-
tions in detail all the reasons which influenced him in forming
his own opinion about the expediency of a continued residence
at St. Petersburg, and leaves the decision to her in whose
judgment he always had the greatest confidence. No un-
pleasant circumstance attended his resignation of his Secre-
taryship, and though it must have been a disappointment to
find that the place did not suit him, as he and his family were
then situated, it was only at the worst an experiment fairly
tried and not proving satisfactory. He left St. Petersburg
after a few months' residence, and returned to America. On
reaching New York, he was met by the sad tidings of the
death of his first-born child, a boy of great promise, who had
called out all the affections of his ardent nature. It was long
before he recovered from the shock of this great affliction.
The boy had shown a very quick and bright intelligence,
and his father often betrayed a pride in his gifts and graces
which he never for a moment made apparent in regard to his
Among the letters which he wrote from St. Petersburg are
two miniature ones directed to this little boy. His affec-
tionate disposition shows itself very s-weetly in these touching
mementos of a love of which his first great sorrow was so
soon to be born. Not less charming are his letters to his
mother, showing the tenderness with which he always re-
garded her, and full of the details which he thought would
entertain one to whom all that related to her children was
always interesting. Of the letters to his wife it is needless
to say more than that they always show the depth of the
love he bore her and the absolute trust he placed in her,
416 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
consulting her always as his nearest and wisest friend and
adviser, — one in all respects fitted
" To warn, to comfort, and command."
He could not be happy alone, and there were good reasons
why his family should not join him in St. Petersburg.
" With my reserved habits," he says, " it would take a
great deal longer to become intimate here than to thaw the
Baltic. I have onty to ' knock that it shall be opened to me,'
but that is just what I hate to do. . . . ' Man delights not
me, no, nor woman neither.' "
Disappointed in his expectations, but happy in the thought
of meeting his wife and children, he came back to his house-
hold to find it clad in mourning.
A letter to his brother-in-law, Mr. Park Benjamin, dated
December 17th, 1844, contains a very full and ardent expres-
sion of his political views at that time. He was very much
excited at the election of Mr. Polk over Mr. Clay. Of the
latter candidate he entertained the most exalted opinion, while
the former was for him " Mr. Quelconque," — Mr. Anybody.
He went so far as to think that this election settled the point
that a statesman could never again be called to the head of
the government. The letter is a characteristic one, coming
from a high-spirited young man, burning with enthusiasm,
which at times runs into something like extravagance. But
it is written with manly vigor, with an impassioned feeling
for the honor of the country, and a scorn which does not
measure its words for " the very dirty politics " which he
finds mixed up with our popular institutions. He himself
had taken an active part in the election campaign, as he
speaks of "having made two stump speeches of an hour and
a half each, one in Dedham town-hall, and one in Jamaica
Plain, with such eminent success that many invitations came
to me from the surrounding villages, and if I had continued
in active political life I might have risen to be vote-distributor,
or fence-viewer, or selectman, or hog-reeve, or something of
This letter gives the same portrait of the writer, only viewed
in profile as it were, which we have already seen drawn in
full face in the story of " Morton's Hope." It is charged
with that sceva indignatio which at times verges on misan-
thropic contempt for its objects, not unnatural to a } r oung
man who sees his lofty ideals confronted with the ignoble
facts which strew the highways of political life. But we can
1878.] MEMOIR OP JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 417
recognize real conviction and the deepest feeling beneath his
scornful rhetoric and his bitter laugh. He was no more a
mere dilettante than Swift himself, but now and then in the
midst of his most serious thought some absurd or grotesque
image will obtrude itself, and one is reminded of the lines on
the monument of Gay rather than of the fierce epitaph of
the Dean of St. Patrick's.
Mr. Motley's first serious effort in historical composition
was an article of fifty pages in the " North American Review "
for October, 1845. This was nominally a notice of two
works, one on Russia, the other a Memoir of the life of
Peter the Great. It is, however, a narrative rather than a
criticism, — a rapid, continuous, brilliant, almost dramatic nar-
rative. If there had been any question as to whether the
young novelist who had missed his first mark had in him the
elements which might give him success as an author, this
essay would have settled the question. It shows throughout
that the writer has made a thorough study of his subject,
but it is written with an easy and abundant, yet scholarly,
freedom, not as if he were surrounded by his authorities and
picking out his material piece by piece, but rather as if it
were the overflow of long-pursued and well-remembered
studies, recalled without effort and poured forth almost as a
As he betrayed or revealed his personality in his first novel,
so in this first effort in another department of literature he
showed in epitome his qualities as an historian and a biogra-
pher. The hero of his narrative makes his entrance at once
in his character as the shipwright of Saardam, on the occasion
of a visit of the great Duke of Marlborough. The portrait
instantly arrests attention. His ideal personages had been
drawn in such a sketchy way, they presented so many imper-
fectly harmonized features, that they never became real, with
the exception of course of the story-teller himself. But the
vigor with which the presentment of the imperial ship-car-
penter, the sturdy, savage, eager, fiery Peter, was given in
the few opening sentences, showed the movement of the
hand, the glow of the color, that were in due time to display
on a broader canvas the full-length portraits of William the
Silent and of John of Barneveld. The style of the whole
article is rich, fluent, picturesque, with light touches of
humor here and there, and perhaps a trace or two of youth-
ful jauntiness, not quite as yet outgrown. His illustrative
poetical quotations are mostly Shakspearian, — from Milton
418 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
and Byron also in a passage or two, — and now and then one
is reminded that he is not unfamiliar with the " Sartor
Resartus " and the " French Revolution " of an always
unmistakable writer, rather perhaps by the way in which
phrases borrowed from other authorities are set in the text
than by any more important evidence of unconscious imi-
The readers who had shaken their heads over the unsuc-
cessful story of " Morton's Hope " were startled by the appear-
ance of this manly and scholarly essay. This young man, it
seemed, had been studying, — studying with careful accuracy,
with broad purpose. He could paint a character with the
ruddy life-blood coloring it as warmly as it glows in the cheeks
of one of Van der Heist's burgomasters. He could sweep
the horizon in a wide general outlook, and manage his per-
spective and his lights and shadows so as to place and accent
his special subject with its due relief and just relations. It
was a sketch, or rather a study for a larger picture, but it
betrayed the hand of a master. The feeling of many was
that expressed in the words of Mr. Longfellow in his review
of the " Twice-Told Tales " of the unknown young writer,
Nathaniel Hawthorne : " When a new star rises in the heavens,
people gaze after it for a season with the naked eye, and with
such telescopes as they may find. . . . This star is but newly
risen ; and erelong the observation of numerous star-gazers,
perched up on arm-chairs and editors' tables, will inform the
world of its magnitude and its place in the heaven of" — not
poetry in this instance, but that serene and unclouded region
of the firmament where shine unchanging the names of He-
rodotus and Thucydides. Those who had always believed in
their brilliant schoolmate and friend at last felt themselves
justified in their faith. The artist that sent this unframed
picture to be hung in a corner of the literary gallery was
equal to larger tasks. There was but one voice in the circle
which surrounded the young essayist. He must redeem his
pledge, he can and will redeem it, if he will only follow the
bent of his genius and grapple with the heroic labor of writ-
ing a great history.
And this was the achievement he was already meditating.
In the mean time, he was studying history for its facts and
principles, and fiction for its scenery and portraits. In the
" North American Review " for July, 1847, is a long and char-
acteristic article on Balzac, of whom he was an admirer, but
with no blind worship. The readers of this great story-
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLET. 419
teller, who was so long in obtaining recognition, who " made
twenty assaults upon feme and had forty books killed under
him " before he achieved success, will find his genius fully
appreciated and fairly weighed in this discriminating essay.
Another article contributed by Mr. Motley to the " North
American Review " is to be found in the number for October,
1849. It is nominally a review of Talvi's (Mrs. Robinson's)
" Geschicht der Colonisation von New England," but in
reality an essay on the " Polity of the Puritans," — an his-
torical disquisition on the principles of self-government
evolved in New England, broad in its views, eloquent in its
language. Its spirit is thoroughly American, and its estimate
of the Puritan character is not narrowed by the near-sighted
liberalism which sees the past in the pitiless light of the pres-
ent, — which looks around at high noon and finds fault with
early dawn for its long and dark shadows.
The commendation bestowed upon Motley's historical essays
in the " North American Review " must have gone far towards
compensating for the ill success of his earlier venture. It
pointed clearly towards the field in which he was to gather his
laurels. And it was in the year following the publication of
this essay, or about that time (1846), that he began collecting
materials for a history of Holland.
Whether to tell the story of men that have lived and of
events that have happened, or to create the characters and
invent the incidents of an imaginary tale be the higher task,
we need not stop to discuss. But the young author was just
now like the great actor in Sir Joshua's picture between the
allurements of Thalia and Melpomene, still doubtful whether
he was to be a romancer or an historian.
In 1849 Mr. Motley published a second story, entitled
" Merry-Mount, a Romance of the Massachusetts Colony."
It had been written several years before the date of its pub-
lication. It is a great advance in certain respects over the
first novel, but wants the peculiar interest which belonged to
that as a partially autobiographical memoir. The story is no
longer disjointed and impossible. It is carefully studied in
regard to its main facts. It has less to remind us of " Vivian
Grey" and "Pelham," and more that recalls " Woodstock "
and " Kenilworth." The personages were many of them his-
torical, though idealized ; the occurrences were many of them
such as the record authenticated ; the localities were drawn
largely from nature. The story betrays marks of haste or
carelessness in some portions, though others are elaborately
420 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
wrought. His Preface shows that the reception of his first
book had made him timid and sensitive about the fate of the
second, and explains and excuses what might be found fault
with, to disarm the criticism he had some reason to fear.
That old watch-dog of our American literature, the "North
American Review," always ready with lambent phrases in
stately " articles " for native talent of a certain pretension,
and wagging its appendix of " Critical Notices " kindly at the
advent of humbler merit, treated " Merry-Mount " with the
distinction implied in a review of nearly twenty pages. This
was a great contrast to the brief and slighting notice of
" Morton's Hope." The reviewer thinks the author's de-
scriptive power wholly exceeds his conception of character
and invention of circumstances. "He dwells, perhaps, too
long and fondly upon his imagination of the landscape as it
was before the stillness of the forest had been broken by the
axe of the settler ; but the picture is so finely drawn, with
so much beauty of language and purity of sentiment, that
we cannot blame him for lingering upon the scene. . . . The
story is not managed with much skill, but it has variety
enough of incident and character, and is told with so much
liveliness that few will be inclined to lay it down before
reaching the conclusion The writer certainly needs
practice in elaborating the details of a consistent and inter-
esting novel ; but in many respects he is well qualified for
the task, and we shall be glad to meet him again on the half-
historical ground he has chosen. His present work, certainly,
is not a fair specimen of what he is able to accomplish, and
its failure, or partial success, ought only to inspirit him for
The " half-historical ground " he had chosen had already
led him to the entrance into the broader domain of history.
The " further effort" for which he was to be inspirited had
already begun. He had been for some time, as was before
mentioned, collecting materials for the work which was to
cast all his former attempts into the kindly shadow of obliv-
ion, save when from time to time the light of his brilliant
after success is thrown upon them to illustrate the path by
which it was at length attained.
The reputation of Mr. Prescott was now coextensive with
the realm of scholarship. The Histories of the reign of Fer-
dinand and Isabella and of the Conquest of Mexico had met
with a reception which might well tempt the ambition of
a young writer to emulate it, but which was not likely to
1878.] MEMOIB OF JOHK LOTHBOP MOTLEY. 421
be awarded to any second candidate who should enter the
field in rivalry with the great and universally popular histo-
rian. But this was the field on which Mr. Motley was to
After he had chosen the subject of the history he contem-
plated, he found that Mr. Prescott was occupied with a
kindred one, so that there might be too near a coincidence
between them. I must borrow from Mr. Ticknor's beautiful
Life of Prescott the words which introduce a letter of Mr.
Motley's to Mr. William Amory, who has kindly allowed me
also to make use of it.
" The moment, therefore, that he [Mr. Motley] was aware of this
condition of things, and the consequent possibility that there might be
an untoward interference in their plans, he took the same frank and
honorable course with Mr. Prescott that Mr. Prescott had taken in
relation to Mr. Irving, when he found that they had both been contem-
plating a ' History of the Conquest of Mexico.' The result was the
same. Mr. Prescott, instead of treating the matter as an interference,
earnestly encouraged Mr. Motley to go on, and placed at his disposi-
tion such of the books in his library as could be most useful to him.
How amply and promptly he did it, Mr. Motley's own account will
best show. It is in a letter dated at Rome, 26th February, 1859, the
day he heard of Mr. Prescott's death, and was addressed to his inti-
mate friend, Mr. William Amory, of Boston, Mr. Prescott's much-
" It seems to me but as yesterday, though it must be now twelve
years ago, that I was talking with our ever-lamented friend Stackpole
about my intention of writing a history upon a subject to which I
have since that time been devoting myself. I had then made already
some general studies in reference to it, without being in the least
aware that Prescott had the intention of writing the ' History of
Philip the Second.' Stackpole had heard the fact, and that large
preparations had already been made for the work, although ' Peru '
had not yet been published. I felt naturally much disappointed. I
was conscious of the immense disadvantage to myself of making my
appearance, probably at the same time, before the public, with a work
not at all similar in plan to ' Philip the Second,' but which must of
necessity traverse a portion of the same ground.
" My first thought was inevitably, as it were, only of myself. It
seemed to me that I had nothing to do but to abandon at once a cher-
ished dream, and probably to renounce authorship. . For I had not
first made up my mind to write a history, and then cast about to take
up a subject. My subject had taken me up, drawn me on, and ab-
sorbed me into itself. It was necessary for me, it seemed, to write the
book I had been thinking much of, even if it were destined to fall dead
from the press, and I had no inclination or interest to write any other.
422 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
When I had made up my mind accordingly, it then occurred to me
that Prescott might not be pleased that I should come forward upon
his ground. It is true that no announcement of his intentions had
been made, and that he had not, I believe, even commenced his pre-
liminary studies for Philip. At the same time I thought it would be
disloyal on my part not to go to him at once, confer with him on the
subject, and if I should find a shadow of dissatisfaction on his mind
at my proposition, to abandon my plan altogether.
" I had only the slightest acquaintance with him at that time. I
was comparatively a young man, and certainly not entitled on any
ground to more than the common courtesy which Prescott never could
refuse to any one. But he received me with such a frank and ready
and liberal sympathy, and such an open-hearted, guileless expansive-
ness, that I felt a personal affection for him from that hour. I re-
member the interview as if it had taken place yesterday. It was in
his father's house, in his own library, looking on the garden-house and
garden, — honored father and illustrious son, — alas ! all numbered
with the things that were ! He assured me that he had not the slightest
objection whatever to my plan, that he wished me every success, and
that, if there were any books in his library bearing on my subject that
I liked to use, they were entirely at my service. After I had ex-
pressed my gratitude for his kindness and cordiality, by which I had
been in a very few moments set completely at ease, — so far as my
fears of his disapprobation went, — I also very naturally stated my
opinion that the danger was entirely mine, and that it was rather wil-
ful of me thus to risk such a collision at my first venture, the probable
consequence of which was utter shipwreck. I recollect how kindly
and warmly he combated this opinion, assuring me that no two books,
as he said, ever injured each other, and encouraging me in the warmest
and most earnest manner to proceed on the course I had marked out
•' Had the result of that interview been different, — had he dis-
tinctly stated, or even vaguely hinted, that it would be as well if I
should select some other topic, or had he only sprinkled me with the
cold water of conventional and commonplace encouragement, — I
should have gone from him with a chill upon my mind, and, no doubt,
have laid down the pen at once ; for, as I have already said, it was
not that I cared about writing a history, but that I felt an inevitable
impulse to write one p articular history.
"You know how kindly he always spoke of and to me; and the
generous manner in which, without the slightest hint from me, and
entirely unexpected by me, he attracted the eyes of his hosts of read-
ers to my forthcoming work, by so handsomely alluding to it in the
preface to his own, must be almost as fresh in your memory as it is in
" And although it seems easy enough for a man of world-wide
reputation thus to extend the right hand of fellowship to an unknown
and struggling aspirant, yet I fear that the history of literature will
show that such instances of disinterested kindness are as rare as they
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 423
It was not from any feeling that Mr. Motley was a young
writer from whose rivalry he had nothing to apprehend. Mr.
Amory says that Prescott expressed himself very decidedly to
the effect that an author who had written such descriptive
passages as were to be found in Mr. Motley's published
writings was not to be undervalued as a competitor by any
one. The reader who will turn to the description of Charles
River in the eighth chapter of the second volume of " Merry-
Mount," or of the autumnal woods in the sixteenth chapter
of the same volume, will see good reason for Mr. Prescott's
appreciation of the force of the rival whose advent he so
heartily and generously welcomed.
After working for several years on his projected History of
Holland, Mr. Motley found that, in order to do his work
thoroughly, he must have recourse to the authorities to be
found only in the libraries and state archives of Europe. In
the year 1851 he left America with his family, to begin his
task over again, throwing aside all that he had already done,
and following up his new course of investigations at Berlin,
Dresden, the Hague, and Brussels, during several succeeding
years. I do not know that I can give a better idea of his
mode of life during this busy period, his occupations, his state
of mind, his objects of interest outside of his special work,
than by the following extracts from a long letter to myself,
dated Brussels, 20th November, 1853.
After some personal matters, he continues : —
" I don't really know what to say to you. I am in a town which
for aught I know, may be very gay. I don't know a living soul in it.
We have not a single acquaintance in the place, and we glory in the
fact. There is something rather sublime in thus floating on a single
spar in the wide sea of a populous, busy, fuming, fussy world like this.
At any rate it is consonant to both our tastes. You may suppose,
however, that I find it rather difficult to amuse my friends out of the
incidents of so isolated an existence. Our daily career is very regular
and monotonous. Our life is as stagnant as a Dutch canal. Not that
I complain of it, — on the contrary, the canal may be richly freighted
with merchandise and be a short cut to the ocean of abundant and
perpetual knowledge ; but, at the same time, few points rise above the
level of so regular a life, to be worthy of your notice. You must,
therefore, allow me to meander along the meadows of commonplace.
Don't expect any thing of the impetuous and boiling style. We go it
weak here. I don't know whether you were ever in Brussels. It is a
striking, picturesque town, built up a steep promontory, the old part at
the bottom, very dingy and mouldy, the new part at the top, very
showy and elegant. Nothing can be more exquisite in its way than
the grande place in the very heart of the city, surrounded with those
424 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
toppling, zigzag, ten-storied buildings bedizened all over with orna-
ments and emblems so peculiar to the Netherlands, with the brocaded
Hotel de Ville on one side, with its impossible dome rising some three
hundred and seventy feet into the air and embroidered to the top with
the delicacy of needle- work, sugar- work, spider-work, or what you will.
I haunt this place because it is my scene, — my theatre. Here were
enacted so many deep tragedies, so many stately dramas, and even so
many farces, which have been familiar to me so long that I have got
to imagine myself invested with a kind of property in the place, and
look at it as if it were merely the theatre with the coulisses, machinery,
drapery, etc., for representing scenes which have long since vanished,
and which no more enter the minds of the men and women who are
actually moving across its pavements, than if they had occurred in the
moon. When I say that I know no soul in Brussels I am perhaps
wrong. With the present generation I am not familiar. En revanche,
the dead men of the place are my intimate friends. I am at home in
any cemetery. With the fellows of the sixteenth century I am on the
most familiar terms. Any ghost that ever flits by night across the
moonlight square is at once hailed by me as a man and a brother. I
call him by his Christian name at once. When you come out of this
place, however, which, as I said, is in the heart of the town — the
antique gem in the modern setting — you may go either up or down —
if you go down you will find yourself in the very nastiest complica-
tions of lanes and culs-de-sacs possible — a dark entanglement of gin-
shops, beer-houses, and hovels, — through which charming valley
dribbles the Senne (whence, I suppose, is derived Senna) the most
nauseous little river in the world — which receives all the outpourings
of all the drains and houses and is then converted into beer for the
inhabitants, all the many breweries being directly upon its edge. If
you go up the hill instead of down, you come to an arrangement of
squares, palaces, and gardens as trim and fashionable as you will find
in Europe. Thus you see that our Cybele sits with her head crowned
with very stately towers and her feet in a tub of very dirty water.
" My habits here for the present year are very regular. I came
here, having, as I thought, finished my work, or rather the first Part
(something like three or four volumes, 8vo), but I find so much original
matter here, and so many emendations to make, that I am ready to
despair. However, there is nothing for it but to penelopize, — pull to
pieces, and stitch away again. Whatever may be the result of my
labor, nobody can say that I have not worked like a brute beast, —
but I don't care for the result. The labor is in itself its own reward
and all I want. I go day after day to the archives here (as I went all
summer at the Hague) studying the old letters and documents of the
fifteenth century. Here I remain among my fellow-worms, feeding on
these musty mulberry-leaves, out of which we are afterwards to spin
our silk. How can you expect any thing interesting from such a
human cocoon ? It is, however, not without its amusement in a mouldy
sort of way, this reading of dead letters. It is something to read the
real, bona fide signs-manual of such fellows as William of Orange,
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHK LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 425
Count Egmont, Alexander Farnese, Philip II., Cardinal Granvelle,
and the rest of them. It gives a ' realizing sense,' as the Americans
have it. . . . There are not many public resources of amusement in
this place, — if we wanted them, — which we don't. I miss the Dres-
den Gallery very much, and it makes me sad to think that I shall never
look at the face of the Sistine Madonna again, — that picture beyond
all pictures in the world — in which the artist certainly did get to heaven
and painted a face which was never seen on earth — so pathetic,
so gentle, so passionless, so prophetic. . . . There are a few good
Rubenses here, — but the great wealth of that master is in Antwerp.
The great picture of the Descent from the Cross is free again after
having been ten years in the repairing room. It has come out again
in very good condition. What a picture ! It seems to me as if I had
really stood at the cross and seen Mary weeping on John's shoulder,
and Magdalen receiving the dead body of the Saviour in her arms.
Never was the grand tragedy represented in so profound and dramatic
a manner. For it is not only in his color in which this man so easily
surpasses all the world, but in his life-like, flesh-aud-blood action —
the tragic power of his composition. And is it not appalling to think
of the ' large constitution of this man,' when you reflect on the acres
of canvas which he has covered ? How inspiriting to see with what
muscular, masculine vigor this splendid Fleming rushed in and plucked
up drowning Art by the locks when it was sinking in the trashy sea of
such creatures as the Luca Giordanos and Pietro Cortonas and the
like. Well might Guido exclaim, ' The fellow mixes blood with his
colors ! ' . . . How providentially did the man come in and invoke
living, breathing, moving men and women out of his canvas ! Some-
times he is ranting and exaggerated, as are all men of great genius
who wrestle with Nature so boldly. No doubt his heroines are more
expansively endowed than would be thought genteel in our country,
where cryptogams are so much in fashion, nevertheless there is always
something very tremendous about him, and very often much that is
sublime, pathetic, and moving. I defy any one of the average amount
of imagination and sentiment to stand long before the Descent from
the Cross without being moved more nearly to tears than he would
care to acknowledge. As for color, his effects are as sure as those of
the sun rising in a tropical landscape. There is something quite genial
in the cheerful sense of his own omnipotence which always inspired
him. There are a few fine pictures of his here, and I go in sometimes
of a raw, foggy morning merely to warm myself in the blaze of their
I have been more willing to give room to this description
of Rubens's pictures and the effect they produced upon
Mr. Motley, because there is a certain affinity between those
sumptuous and glowing works of art and the prose pictures
of the historian who so admired them. He was himself a
colorist in language, and called up the image of a great per-
426 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
sonage or a splendid pageant of the past with the same afflu-
ence that floods, the same rich vitality that warms the vast
areas of canvas over which the full-fed genius of Rubens dis-
ported itself in the luxury of imaginative creation.
The labor of ten years was at last finished. Carrying his
formidable manuscript with him, — and how formidable the
manuscript which melts down into three solid octavo volumes
is, only writers and publishers know, — he knocked at the
door of that terrible fortress from which Lintot and Curll
and Tonson looked down on the authors of an older genera-
tion. So large a work as the " History of the Rise of the
Dutch Republic," offered for the press by an author as yet
unknown to the British public, could hardly expect a warm
welcome from the great dealers in literature as merchandise.
Mr. Murray civilly declined the manuscript which was offered
to him, and it was published at its author's expense by Mr.
John Chapman. The time came when the positions of the
first-named celebrated publisher and the unknown writer
were reversed. Mr. Murray wrote to Mr. Motley, asking to
be allowed to publish his second great work, the " History of
the United Netherlands," expressing at the same time his
regret at what he candidly called his mistake in the first in-
stance, and thus they were at length brought into business
connection as well as the most agreeable and friendly rela-
tions. An American edition was published by the Harpers
at the same time with the London one.
If the new work of the unknown author found it difficult to
obtain a publisher, it was no sooner published than it found
an approving, an admiring, an enthusiastic world of readers,
and a noble welcome at the colder hands of the critics.
The " Westminster Review " for April, 1856, had for its
leading article a paper by Mr. Froude, in which the critic
awarded the highest praise to the work of the new historian.
As one of the earliest as well as one of the most important
recognitions of the work, I quote some of its judgments : —
" A history as complete as industry and genius can make it now
lies before us of the first twenty years of the Revolt of the United
Provinces ; of the period in which those provinces finally conquered
their independence and established the Republic of Holland. It has
been the result of many years of silent, thoughtful, unobtrusive labor,
and unless we are strangely mistaken, unless we are ourselves alto-
gether unfit for this office of criticising which we have here under-
taken, the book is one which will take its place among the finest
histories in this or in any language. . . . All the essentials of a great
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 427
writer Mr. Motley eminently possesses. His mind is broad, his in-
dustry unwearied. In power of dramatic description no modern his-
torian, except perhaps Mr. Carlyle, surpasses him, and in analysis of
character he is elaborate and distinct. His principles are those of
honest love for all which is good and admirable in human character
wherever he finds it, while he unaffectedly hates oppression, and de-
spises selfishness with all his heart."
After giving a slight analytical sketch of the series of
events related in the history, Mr. Froude finds fault only
with one of the historian's estimates, — that of the course
of Queen Elizabeth.
" It is ungracious, however," he says, " even to find so slight a fault
with these admirable volumes. Mr. Motley has written without
haste, with the leisurely composure of a master. . . . We now take our
leave of Mr. Motley, desiring him only to accept our hearty thauks
for these volumes, which we trust will soon take their place in every
English library. Our quotations will have sufficed to show the ability
of the writer. Of the scope and general character of his work we
have given but a languid conception. The true merit of a great book
must be learned from the book itself. Our part has been rather to
select varied specimens of style and power. Of Mr. Motley's antece-
dents we know nothing. If he has previously appeared before the
public, his reputation has not crossed the Atlantic. It will not be so
now. We believe that we may promise him as warm a welcome
among ourselves as he will receive even in America ; that his place
will be at once conceded to him among the first historians in our com-
The faithful and unwearied Mr. Allibone has swept the
whole field of contemporary criticism, and shown how wide
and universal was the welcome accorded to the hitherto un-
known author. An article headed " Prescott and Motlej',"
from the pen of M. Guizot, is to be found in the " Edinburgh
Review " for January, 1857. The praise, not unmingled
with criticisms, which that great historian bestowed upon
Motley, is less significant than the fact that he superintended
a translation of the "Rise of the Dutch Republic," and him-
self wrote the introduction to it.
A general chorus of approbation followed or accompanied
these leading voices. The reception of the work in Great
Britain was a triumph. On the Continent, in addition to the
tribute paid to it by M. Guizot, it was translated into Dutch,
into German, and into Russian. At home his reception was
not less hearty. The "North American Review," which had
set its foot on the semi-autobiographical medley which he
428 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
called " Morton's Hope," which had granted, a decent space
and a tepid recognition to his " semi-historical " romance, in
which he had already given the reading public a taste of his
quality as a narrator of real events and a delineator of real
personages, — this old and awe-inspiring New England and
more than New England representative of the Fates found
loom for a long and most laudatory article, in which the son
of one of our most distinguished historians did the honors of
the venerable literary periodical to the new-comer, for whom
the folding-doors of all the critical head-quarters were flying
open as if of themselves. Mr. Allibone has recorded the
opinions of some of our best scholars as expressed to him.
Dr. Lieber wrote in the strongest terms of praise a letter
to Mr. Allibone. I quote one passage, which in the light of
after events borrows a cruel significance : —
" Congress and Parliament decree thanks for military exploits, —
rarely for diplomatic achievements. If they ever voted their thanks
for books, — and what deeds have influenced the course of human
events more than some books ? — Motley ought to have the thanks of
our Congress ; but I doubt not that he has already the thanks of every
American who has read the work. It will leave its distinct mark
upon the American mind."
Mr. Everett writes : —
"Mr. Motley's ' History of the Dutch Republic' is in my judgment
a work of the highest merit. Unwearying research for years in the
libraries of Europe, patience and judgment in arranging and digesting
his materials, a fine historical tact, much skill in characterization, the
perspective of narration, as it may be called, and a vigorous style,
unite to make it a very capital work, and to place the name of Motley
by the side of those of our great historical trio, — Bancroft, Irving,
Mr. Irving, Mr. Bancroft, Mr. Sumner, Mr. Hillard, united
their voices in the same strain of commendation. Mr. Pres-
cott, whose judgment of the new History is of peculiar value,
for obvious reasons, writes to Mr. Allibone thus : —
" The opinion of any individual seems superfluous in respect to a
work on the merits of which the public both at home and abroad
have pronounced so unanimous a verdict. As Motley's path crosses
my own historic field, I may be thought to possess some advantage
over most critics in my familiarity with the ground.
" However this may be, I can honestly bear my testimony to the
extent of his researches and to the accuracy with which he has given
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 429
the results of them to the public. Far from making his book a mere
register of events, he has penetrated deep below the surface and ex-
plored the cause of these events. He has carefully studied the physi-
ognomy of the times and given finished portraits of the great men
who conducted the march of the revolution. Every page is instinct
with the love of freedom and with that personal knowledge of the
working of free institutions which could alone enable him to do jus-
tice to his subject. We may congratulate ourselves that it was
reserved for one of our countrymen to tell the story — better than it
had yet been told — of this memorable revolution, which in so many
of its features bears a striking resemblance to our own."
The public welcomed the work as cordially as the critics.
Fifteen thousand copies had already been sold in London in
1857. In America it was equally popular. Its author saw
his name enrolled by common consent among those of the
great writers of his time. Europe accepted him, his country
was proud to claim him, scholarship set its jealously guarded
seal upon the result of his labors ; the reading world, which
had not cared greatly for his stories, hung in delight over a
narrative more exciting than romances ; and the lonely stu-
dent, who had almost forgotten the look of living men in the
solitude of archives haunted by dead memories, found him-
self suddenly in the full blaze of a great reputation.
He visited this country in 1856, and spent the winter of
1856-57 in Boston, having established himself with his family
in a house in Boylston Place. At this time I had the pleasure
of meeting him often, and of seeing the changes which ma-
turity, success, the opening of a great literary and social
career, had wrought in his character and bearing. He was
in every way greatly improved ; the interesting, impulsive
youth had ripened into a noble manhood. Dealing with
great themes, his own mind had gained their dignity. Accus-
tomed to the company of dead statesmen and heroes, his own
ideas had risen to a loftier height. The flattery of society
had added a new grace to his natural modesty. He was now
a citizen of the world by his reputation ; the past was his
province, in which he was recognized as a master ; but he
was thinking of new labors, not of what he had already ac-
During the years spent in Europe in writing his first his-
tory, from 1851 to 1856, Mr. Motley lived a life of great
retirement and simplicity, devoting himself to his work and
to the education of his children, to which last object he was
430 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
always ready to give the most careful attention. He was
as yet unknown beyond the circle of his friends, and he did
not seek society. In this quiet way he passed the two years
of residence in Dresden, the year divided between Brussels
and the Hague, and a very tranquil year spent at Vevay on
the Lake of Geneva. His health at this time was tolerably
good, except for nervous headaches, which frequently recurred
and were of great severity. His visit to England with his
manuscript, in search of a publisher, has already been men-
In 1858 he revisited England. His fame as a successful
author was there before him, and he naturally became the
object of many attentions. He now made many acquaint-
ances who afterwards became his kind and valued friends.
Among those mentioned by his daughter, Lady Harcourt, are
Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Carlisle, Lady William Russell, Lord
and Lady Palmerston, Dean Milman, with many others. The
following winter was passed in Rome, among many English
and American friends.
" In the course of the next summer," his daughter says, " we all
went to England, and for the next two years, marked chiefly by the
success of the ' United Netherlands,' our social life was most agreeable
and most interesting. He was in the fulness of his health and powers ;
his works had made him known in intellectual society, and I think his
presence, on the other hand, increased their effects. As no one knows
better than you do, his belief in his own country and in its institutions at
their best was so passionate and intense that it was a part of his nature,
yet his refined aud fastidious tastes were deeply gratified by the influ-
ences of his life in England, and the spontaneous kindness which he
received added much to his happiness. At that time Lord Palmerston
was Prime Minister ; the weekly receptions at/ Cambridge House were
the centre of all that was brilliant in the political and social world,
while Lansdowne House, Holland House, and others were open to the
sommites in all branches of literature, science, rank, and politics.
... It was the last year of Lord Macaulay's life, and as a few out
of many names which I recall, come Dean Milman, Mr. Froude (whose
review of the Dutch Republic in the Westminster was one of the first
warm recognitions it ever received), the Duke and Duchess of Argyll,
Sir William Stirling Maxwell, then Mr. Stirling of Keir, the Sheridan
family in its different brilliant members, Lord Wensleydale, and many
There was no society to which Mr. Motley would not have
added grace and attraction by his presence, and to say that
he was a welcome guest in the best houses of England is
only saying that these houses are always open to those whose
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 431
abilities, characters, achievements, are commended to the
circles that have the best choice by the personal gifts which
are nature's passport everywhere.
I am enabled by the kindness of Mr. Francis H. Under-
wood to avail myself of a letter addressed to him by Mr.
Motley in the year before the publication of this second work,
which gives us an insight into his mode of working and the
plan he proposed to follow. It begins with an allusion which
recalls a literary event interesting to many of his American
^ „ TT „ Rome, March 4, 1859.
F. H. Underwood, Esq.
Mt dear Sir, — . . . I am delighted to hear of the great suc-
cess of the Atlantic Monthly. In this remote region I have not the
chance of reading it as often as I should like, but from the specimens
which I have seen I am quite sure it deserves its wide circulation. A
serial publication, the contents of which are purely original and of such
remarkable merit, is a novelty in our country, and I am delighted to
find that it has already taken so prominent a position before the read-
ing world. . . . The whole work [his history], of which the three
volumes already published form a part, will be called " The Eighty
Years' War for Liberty."
Epoch I. is the Rise of the Dutch Republic.
Epoch II. Independence Achieved. From the Death of William the
Silent till the Twelve Years' Truce. 1584-1609.
Epoch III. Independence Recognized. From the Twelve Years' Truce
to the Peace of Westphalia. 1609-1648.
My subject is a very vast one, for the struggle of the United Prov-
inces with Spain was one in which all the leading states of Europe
were more or less involved. After the death of William the Silent,
the history assumes world-wide proportions. Thus the volume which
I am just about terminating is . . . almost as much English
history as Dutch. The Earl of Leicester, very soon after the death
of Orange, was appointed governor of the provinces, and the alliance
between the two countries almost amounted to a political union.
I shall tr}' to get the whole of the Leicester administration, termi-
nating with the grand drama of the invincible armada, into one
volume ; but I doubt, my materials are so enormous. I have been
personally very hard at work, nearly two years, ransacking the British
State Paper Office, the British Museum, and the Holland archives,
and I have had two copyists constantly engaged in London, and two
others at the Hague. Besides this, I passed the whole of last winter
at Brussels, where, by special favor of the Belgian government, I was
allowed to read what no one else has ever been permitted to see, —
the great mass of copies taken by that government from the Simancas
archives, a translated epitome of which has been published by Gachard.
This correspondence reaches to the death of Philip II., and is of im-
432 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
mense extent and importance. Had I not obtained leave to read the
invaluable and, for my purpose, indispensable documents at Brussels, I
should have gone to Spain, for they will not be published these twenty
years, and then only in a translated and excessively abbreviated and
unsatisfactory form. I have read the whole of this correspondence,
and made very copious notes of it. In truth, I devoted three months
of last winter to that purpose alone.
The materials I have collected from the English archives are also
extremely important and curious. I have hundreds of interesting
letters never published or to be published, by Queen Elizabeth,
Burghley, Walsingham, Sidney, Drake, Willoughby, Leicester, and
others. For the whole of that portion of my subject in which
Holland and England were combined into one whole, to resist Spain
in its attempt to obtain the universal empire, I have very abun-
dant collections. For the history of the United Provinces is not at
all a provincial history. It is the history of European liberty. "With-
out the struggle of Holland and England against Spain, all Europe
might have been Catholic and Spanish. It was Holland that saved
England in the sixteenth century, and, by so doing, secured the triumph
of the Reformation, and placed the independence of the various states
of Europe upon a sure foundation. Of course, the materials collected
by me at the Hague are of great importance. As a single specimen, I
will state that I found in the archives there an immense and confused
mass of papers, which turned out to be the autograph letters of Olden
Barneveld during the last few years of his life ; during, in short, the
whole of that most important period which preceded his execution.
These letters are in such an intolerable handwriting that no one has
ever attempted to read them. I could read them only imperfectly
myself, and it would have taken me a very long time to have acquired
the power to do so ; but my copyist and reader there is the most patient
and indefatigable person alive, and he has quite mastered the hand-
writing, and he writes me that they are a mine of historical wealth for
me. I shall have complete copies before I get to that period, one of
signal interest, and which has never been described. I mention these
matters that you may see that my work, whatever its other value may
be, is built upon the only foundation fit for history, — original contem-
porary documents. These are all unpublished. Of course, I use the
contemporary historians and pamphleteers, — Dutch, Spanish, French,
Italian, German, and English, — but the most valuable of my sources
are manuscript ones. I have said the little which I have said in order
to vindicate the largeness of the subject. The kingdom of Holland is
a small power now, but the eighty years' war, which secured the civil
and religious independence of the Dutch Commonwealth and of
Europe, was the great event of that whole age.
The whole work will therefore cover a most remarkable epoch in
human history, from the abdication of Charles Fifth to the Peace of
Westphalia, at which last point the political and geographical arrange-
ments of Europe were established on a permanent basis; — in the main
undisturbed until the French Revolution. . . .
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 433
I will mention that I received yesterday a letter from the distin-
guished M. Guizot, informing me that the first volume of the French
translation, edited by him, with an introduction, has just been pub-
lished. The publication was hastened in consequence of the appear-
ance of a rival translation at Brussels. The German translation is
very elegantly and expensively printed in handsome octavos ; and the
Dutch translation, under the editorship of the archivist general of Hol-
land, Bakhuyzen v. d. Brink, is enriched with copious notes and com-
ments by that distinguished scholar.
There are also three different piratical reprints of the original work
at Amsterdam, Leipzig, and London. I must add that I had nothing
to do with the translation in any case. In fact, with the exception of
M. Guizot, no one ever obtained permission of me to publish transla-
tions, and I never knew of the existence of them until I read them in
the journals. ... I forgot to say that among the collections already
thoroughly examined by me is that portion of the Simancas archives
still retained in the imperial archives of France. I spent a consider-
able time in Paris for the purpose of reading these documents. There
are many letters of Philip II. there, with aposlilles by his own hand.
... I would add that I am going to pass this summer at Venice for
the purpose of reading and procuring copies from the very rich archives
of that republic, of the correspondence of their envoys in Madrid, Lon-
don, and Brussels during the epoch of which I am treating. I am also
not without hope of gaining access to the archives of the Vatican here,
although there are some difficulties in the way.
With kind regards . . .
I remain very truly yours,
J. L. Motley.
We know something of the manner in which Mr. Motley-
collected his materials. We know the labors, the difficulties,
the cost of his toils among the dusty records of the past.
What he gained by the years he passed in his researches is
so well stated by himself that I shall borrow his own words :
" Thanks to the liberality of many modern governments of
Europe, the archives where the state secrets of the buried
centuries have so long mouldered are now open to the student
of history. To him who has patience and industry, many
mysteries are thus revealed which no political sagacity or
critical acumen could have divined. He leans over the shoul-
der of Philip the Second at his writing-table, as the King
spells patiently out, with cipher-key in hand, the most con-
cealed hieroglyphics of Parma, or Guise, or Mendoza. He
reads the secret thoughts of ' Fabius ' [Philip II.] as that
cunctative Roman scrawls his marginal apostilles on each
despatch ; he pries into all the stratagems of Camillus, Hor-
tensius, Mucius, Julius, Tullius, and the rest of those ancient
434 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
heroes who lent their names to the diplomatic masqueraders
of the sixteenth century ; he enters the cabinet of the deeply
pondering Burghley, and takes from the most private drawer
the memoranda which record that minister's unutterable
doubtings ; he pulls from the dressing-gown folds of the
stealthy, soft-gliding Walsingham the last secret which he
has picked from the Emperor's pigeon-holes or the Pope's
pocket, and which not Hatton, nor Buckhurst, nor Leicester,
nor the Lord Treasurer is to see ; nobody but Elizabeth her-
self ; he sits invisible at the most secret councils of the Nas-
saus and Barneveld and Buys, or pores with Farnese over
coming victories and vast schemes of universal conquest ; he
reads the latest bit of scandal, the minutest characteristic of
king or minister, chronicled by the gossiping Venetians for
the edification of the Forty ; and after all this prying and
eavesdropping, having seen the cross-purposes, the bribings,
the windings in the dark, he is not surprised if those who
were systematically deceived did not always arrive at correct
conclusions." (History of United Netherlands, I. p. 54.)
The fascination of such a quest is readily conceivable. A
drama with real characters, and the spectator at liberty to go
behind the scenes and look upon and talk with the kings and
queens between the acts ; to examine the scenery, to handle
the properties, to study the " make-up " of the imposing
personages of full-dress histories ; to deal with them all as
Thackeray has done with the Grand Monarque in one of his
caustic sketches, — this would be as exciting, one might sup-
pose, as to sit through a play one knows by heart at Drury
Lane or the Theatre Francais, and might furnish occupation
enough to the curious idler who was only in search of enter-
tainment. The mechanical obstacles of half-illegible manu-
script, however, and of antiquated forms of speech, to say
nothing of the intentional obscurities of diplomatic corre-
spondence, stand in the way of all but the resolute and un-
wearied scholar. These difficulties, in all their complex
obstinacy, had been met and overcome by the heroic efforts,
the concentrated devotion of the new laborer in the un-
broken fields of secret history.
Without stopping to take breath, as it were, — for his was
a task de longue haleine, — he proceeded to his second great
The first portion — consisting of two volumes — of the
History of the United Netherlands was published in the year
1860. It maintained and increased the reputation he had
already gained by his first history.
1878.] MEMOIR OP JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 435
The London Quarterly Review devoted a long article to it,
beginning with this handsome tribute to his earlier and later
volumes : —
" Mr. Motley's ' History of the Rise of the Dutch Republic ' is
already known and valued for the grasp of mind which it displays, for
the earnest and manly spirit in which he has communicated the results
of deep research and careful reflection. Again he appears before us,
rich with the spoils of time, to tell the story of the United Netherlands
from the time of William the Silent to the end of the eventful year of
the Spanish Armada, and we still find him in every way worthy of this
'great argument.' Indeed it seems to us that he proceeds with an
increased facility of style, and with a more complete and easy com-
mand over his materials. These materials are indeed splendid, and of
them most excellent use has been made. The English State Paper
Office, the Spanish archives from Simancas, and the Dutch and Bel-
gian repositories have all yielded up their secrets ; and Mr. Motley
has enjoyed the advantage of dealing with a vast mass of unpublished
documents, of which he has not failed to avail himself to an extent
which places his work in the foremost rank as an authority for the
period to which it relates. By means of his labor and his art we can
sit at the council board of Philip and Elizabeth, we can read their
most private despatches. Guided by his demonstration, we are ena-
bled to dissect out to their ultimate issues the minutest ramifications of
intrigue. We join in the amusement of the popular lampoon ; we visit
the prison-house; we stand by the scaffold; we are present at the
battle and the siege. We can scan the inmost characters of men and
can view them in their habits as they lived."
After a few criticisms upon lesser points of form and style,
the writer says : —
" But the work itself must be read to appreciate the vast and con-
scientious industry bestowed upon it. His delineations are true and
life-like, because they are not mere compositions written to please the
ear, but are really taken from the facts and traits preserved in those
authentic records to which he has devoted the labor of many years.
Diligent and painstaking as the humblest chronicler, he has availed
himself of many sources of information which have not been made use
of by any previous historical writer. At the same time he is not
oppressed by his materials, but has sagacity to estimate their real
value, and he has combined, and with scholarly power, the facts which
they contain. He has rescued the story of the Netherlands from the
domain of vague and general narrative, and has labored, with much
judgment and ability, to unfold the Belli causas, et vitia, et modos,
and to assign to every man and every event their own share in the
contest, and their owu influence upon its fortunes. We do not wonder
that his earlier publication has been received as a valuable addition,
not only to English, but to European literature."
436 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
One or two other contemporary criticisms may help us with
their side-lights. A critic in the Edinburgh Review for
January, 1861, thinks that " Mr. Motley has not always been
successful in keeping the graphic variety of his details subor-
dinate to the main theme of his work." Still, he excuses the
fault, as he accounts it, in consideration of the new light
thrown on various obscure points of history, and says that "it
is atoned for by striking merits, by many narratives of great
events, faithfully, powerfully, and vividly executed, by the
clearest and most life-like conceptions of character, and by
a style which, if it sacrifices the severer principles of com-
position to a desire to be striking and picturesque, is always
vigorous, full of animation, and glowing with the genuine en-
thusiasm of the writer. Mr. Motley combines as an historian
two qualifications seldom found united, — to great capacity
for historical research he adds much power of pictorial repre-
sentation. In his pages we find characters and scenes minutely
set forth in elaborate and characteristic detail, which is re-
lieved and heightened in effect by the artistic breadth of light
and shade thrown across the broader prospects of history. In
an American author, too, we must commend the hearty Eng-
lish spirit in which the book is written ; and fertile as the
present age has been in historical works of the highest merit,
none of them can be ranked above these volumes in the grand
qualities of interest, accuracy, and truth."
A writer in " Blackwood " (May, 1861) contrasts Motley
with Froude somewhat in the way in which another critic had
contrasted him with Prescott. Froude, he says, remembers
that there are some golden threads in the black robe of
the Dominican. Motley "finds it black and thrusts it farther
into the darkness."
Every writer carries more or less of his own character into
his book, of course. A great professor has told me that there
is a personal flavor in the mathematical work of a man of
genius like Poisson. Those who have known Motley and
Prescott would feel sure beforehand that the impulsive
nature of the one and the judicial serenity of the other would
as surely betray themselves in their writings as in their con-
versation and in their every movement. Another point which
the critic of Blackwood's Magazine has noticed has not been
so generally observed ; it is what he calls " a dashing, off-
hand, rattling " style, — '■'■fast " writing. It cannot be denied
that here and there may be detected slight vestiges of the way
of writing of an earlier period of Motley's literary life, with
which I have no reason to think the writer just mentioned
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHKOP MOTLEY. 437
was acquainted. Now and then I can trace in the turn of a
phrase, in the twinkle of an epithet, a faint reminiscence of
that satirical levity, airiness, jauntiness, if I may hint such a
word, which is just enough to remind me of those perilous
shallows of his early time through which his richly freighted
argosy had passed with such wonderful escape from its dan-
gers and such very slight marks of injury. That which
is pleasant gayety in conversation may be quite out of place
in formal composition, and Motley's wit must have had a hard
time of it in struggling to show its spangles in the proces-
sions while his gorgeous tragedies went sweeping by.
The winter of 1859-60 was passed chiefly at Oatlands
Hotel, Walton on Thames. In 1860 Mr. Motley hired the
house No. 31 Hertford Street, May Fair, London. He had
just published the first two volumes of his History of the
Netherlands, and was ready for the further labors of its con-
tinuation, when the threats, followed by the outbreak, of the
great civil contention in his native land brought him back
from the struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centu-
ries to the conflict of the nineteenth.
His love of country, which had grown upon him so remark-
ably of late years, would not suffer him to be silent at such a
moment. All around him he found ignorance and prejudice.
The quarrel was like to be prejudged in default of a cham-
pion of the cause which to him was that of liberty and jus-
tice. He wrote two long letters to the " London Times," in
which he attempted to make clear to Englishmen and to
Europe the nature and conditions of our complex system of
government, the real cause of the strife and the mighty issues
at stake. Nothing could have been more timely, nothing
more needed. Mr. William Everett, who was then in Eng-
land, has borne testimony before this Society to the effect
these letters produced. Had Motley done no other service
to his country, this alone would entitle him to honorable
remembrance as among the first defenders of the flag which
at that moment had more to fear from what was going on in
the cabinet councils of Europe than from all the armed hosts
which were gathering against it.
He returned to America in 1861, and soon afterwards was
appointed by Mr. Lincoln Minister to Austria. Mr. Burlin-
game had been previously appointed to the office, but having
been objected to by the Austrian government for political
reasons, the place unexpectedly left vacant was conferred
on Mr. Motley, who had no expectation of any diplomatic
438 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
appointment when he left Europe. For some interesting
particulars relating to his residence in Vienna I must refer to
the communications addressed to me by Lady Harcourt and
her youngest sister, and the letters I received from him while
at the Austrian capital. Lady Harcourt writes : —
" He held the post for six years, seeing the civil war fought out and
brought to a triumphant conclusion, and enjoying, as I have every rea-
son to believe, the full confidence and esteem of Mr. Lincoln to the
last hour of the President's life. In the first dark years the painful
interest of the great national drama was so all-absorbing that literary
work was entirely put aside, and with his countrymen at home he lived
only in the varying fortunes of the day, his profound faith and enthu-
siasm sustaining him and lifting him above the natural influence of a
by no means sanguine temperament. Later, when the tide was turn-
ing and success was nearing, he was more able to work. His social
relations during the whole period of his mission were of the most
agreeable character. The society of Vienna was at that time, and I
believe is still, the absolute reverse of that of England, where all
claims to distinction are recognized and welcomed. There the old
feudal traditions were still in full force, and diplomatic representatives
admitted to the court society by right of official position found it to
consist exclusively of an aristocracy of birth, sixteen quarterings of
nobility being necessary to a right of presentation to the Emperor
and Empress. The society thus constituted was distinguished by
great charm and grace of manner, the exclusion of all outer elements
not only limiting the numbers, but giving the ease of a family party
within the charmed circle. On the other hand, larger interests
suffered under the rigid exclusion of all occupations except the army,
diplomacy, and court place. The intimacy among the different mem-
bers of the society was so close that, beyond a courtesy of manner
that never failed, the tendency was to resist the approach of any
stranger as a gene. A single new face was instantly remarked and
commented on in a Vienna saloon to an extent unknown in any other
large capital. This peculiarity, however, worked in favor of the old
resident. Kindliness of feeling increased with familiarity and grew
into something better than acquaintance, and the parting with most
sincere and affectionately disposed friends in the end was deeply felt
on both sides. Those years were passed in a pleasant house in the
Weiden faubourg, with a large garden at the back, and I do not think
that during this time there was one disagreeable incident in his rela-
tions to his colleagues, while in several cases the relations, agreeable
with all, became those of close friendship. We lived constantly, of
course, in diplomatic and Austrian society, and during the latter part
of the time particularly, his house was as much frequented and the
centre of as many dancing and other receptions as any in the place.
His official relations with the Foreign Office were courteous and agree-
able, the successive Foreign Ministers during his stay being Count
Eechberg, Count Mensdorff, and Baron Beust. Austria was so far
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 439
removed from any real contact with our own country that, though the
interest in our war may have been languid, they did not pretend to a
knowledge which might have inclined them to controversy, while an
instinct that we were acting as a constituted government against rebel-
lion rather inclined them to sympathy. I think I may say that as he
became known among them, his keen patriotism and high sense of
honor and truth were fully understood and appreciated, and that what
he said always commanded a sympathetic hearing among men with
totally different political ideas but with chivalrous and loyal instincts
to comprehend his own. I shall never forget his account of the terri-
ble day when the news of Mr. Lincoln's death came. By some acci-
dent, a rumor of it reached him first through a colleague. He went
straight to the Foreign Office for news, hoping against hope, was
received by Count Mensdorff, who merely came forward and laid his
arm about his shoulder with an intense sympathy beyond words."
Miss Motley, the historian's youngest daughter, has added
a note to her sister's communication : —
" During his residence in Vienna, the most important negotiations
which he had to carry on with the Austrian Government were those
connected with the Mexican affair. Maximilian at one time applied to
his brother the Emperor for assistance, and he promised to accede to
his demand. Accordingly a large number of volunteers were equipped
and had actually embarked t Trieste, when a despatch from Mr.
Seward arrived, instructing a , American Minister to give notice to
the Austrian Government th. f the troops sailed for Mexico he was
to leave Vienna at once. Ita/ father had to go at once to Count
Mensdorff with these instructions, and in spite of the Foreign Minister
being annoyed that the United States Government had not sooner
intimated that this extreme course would be taken, the interview was
quite amicable, and the troops were not allowed to sail. We were in
Vienna during the war in which Denmark fought alone against Aus-
tria and Prussia, and when it was over Bismarck came to Vienna to
settle the terms of peace with the Emperor. He dined with us twice
during his short stay, and was most delighful and agreeable. When he
and my father were together, they seemed to live over the youthful
days they had spent together as students, and many were the anecdotes
of their boyish frolics which Bismarck related."
Soon after Mr. Motley's arrival in Vienna, I received a long
letter from him, most of which relates to matters of personal
interest, but which contains a few sentences of interest to the
general reader, as showing his zealous labors, wherever he
found himself, in behalf of the great cause then in bloody
debate in his own country : —
" November 14, 1861.
"What can I say to you of cis-Atlantic things? I am almost
ashamed to be away from home. You knew that I had decided to
440 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Due.
remain, and had sent for my family to come to America, when my
present appointment altered my plans. I do what good I can. I
think I made some impression on Lord John Russell, with whom
I spent two days soon after my arrival in England, and I talked very
frankly and as strongly as I could to Palmerston, and I have had long
conversations and correspondences with other leading men in England.
I have also had an hour's [conversation] with Thouvenel in Paris. I
hammered the Northern view into him as soundly as I could. For this
year there will be no foreign interference with us. I don't anticipate
it at any time, unless we bring it on ourselves by bad management, which
I don't expect. Our fate is in our own hands, and Europe is looking on
to see which side is strongest, — when it has made the discovery it will
back it as also the best and the most moral. Yesterday I had my audi-
ence with the Emperor. He received me with much cordiality, and
seemed interested in a long account which I gave him of our affairs.
You may suppose I inculcated the Northern views. We spoke in his
vernacular, and he asked me afterwards if I was a German. I mention
this not from vanity, but because he asked it with earnestness, and
as if it had a political significance. Of course I undeceived him. His
appearance interested me, and his manner is very pleasing."
I continued to receive long and interesting letters from him
at intervals during his residence as minister at Vienna. Re-
lating as they often did to public matters, about which he had
private sources of information, his anxiety that they should
not get into print was perfectly natural. As, however, I was
at liberty to read his letters to others at my discretion, and
as many parts of these letters have an interest as showing
how American affairs looked to one who was behind the
scenes in Europe, I may venture to give some extracts with-
out fear of violating the spirit of his injunctions, or of giving
offence to individuals. The time may come when his ex-
tended correspondence can be printed in full with propriety,
but it must be in a future year and after it has passed into
the hands of a younger generation. Meanwhile, these few
glimpses at his life and records of his feelings and opinions
will help to make the portrait of the man we are studying
present itself somewhat more clearly.
" Legation op the U. S. A., Vienna, January 14, 1862.
" My dear Holmes, — I have two letters of yours, November 29
and December 17, to express my thanks for. It is quite true that it is
difficult for me to write with the same feeling that inspires you, that
every thing around the inkstand within a radius of a thousand miles is
full of deepest interest to writer and reader. I don't even intend to
try to amuse you with Vienna matters. What is it to you that we
had a very pleasant dinner-party last week at Prince Esterhazy's, and
1878.] MEMOIB OP JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 441
another this week at Prince Liechtenstein's, and that to-morrow I am
to put on my cocked hat and laced coat to make a visit to her Imperial
Majesty, the Empress Mother, and that to-night there is to be the first
of the assembly balls, the Vienna Almack's, at which — I shall be
allowed to absent myself altogether ?
" It strikes me that there is likely to be left a fair field for us a few
months longer, say till midsummer. The Trent affair I shall not say
much about, except to state that I have always been for giving up the
prisoners. I was awfully afraid, knowing that the demand had gone
' Send us your prisoners, or you'll hear of it,'
that the answer would have come back in the Hotspur vein, —
' And if the Devil come and roar for them,
We will not send them.'
The result would have been most disastrous, for in order to secure a
most trifling advantage, — that of keeping Mason and Slidell at Fort
Warren a little longer, — we should have turned our backs on all the
principles maintained by us when neutral, and should have been obliged
to accept a war at an enormous disadvantage. . . .
" But I hardly dared to hope that we should have obtained such a
victory as we have done. To have disavowed the illegal transaction
at once, — before any demand came from England, — to have placed
that disavowal on the broad ground of principle which we have always
cherished, and thus with a clear conscience, and to our entire honor,
to have kept ourselves clear from a war which must have given the
confederacy the invincible alliance of England, — was exactly what
our enemies in Europe did not suppose us capable of doing. But we
have done it in the handsomest manner, and there is not one liberal
heart in this hemisphere that is not rejoiced, nor one hater of us and of
our institutions that is not gnashing his teeth with rage."
The letter of ten close pages from which I have quoted
these passages is full of confidential information, and contains
extracts from letters of leading statesmen. If its date had
been 1762, I might feel authorized in disobeying its injunc-
tions of privacy. I must quote a single sentence, as it shows
his animus at that time towards a distinguished statesman of
whom he was accused of speaking in very hard terms by
an obscure writer whose intent was to harm him. In speak-
ing of the Trent affair, Mr. Motley says : " The English
premier has been foiled by our much maligned Secretary of
State, of whom, on this occasion at least, one has the right to
say, with Sir Henry Wotton, —
' His armor was his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill.' "
442 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
He says at the close of this long letter : " I wish I could
bore you about something else but American politics. But
there is nothing else worth thinking of in the world. All else
is leather and prunella. We are living over again the days
of the Dutchmen or the seventeenth-century Englishmen."
My next letter, of fourteen closely written pages, was of
similar character to the last. Motley could think of nothing
but the great conflict. He was alive to every report from
America, listening too with passionate fears or hopes, as the
case might be, to the whispers not yet audible to the world
which passed from lip to lip of the statesmen who were watch-
ing the course of events from the other side of the Atlantic
with the sweet complacency of the looker-on of Lucretius ;
too often rejoicing in the storm that threatened wreck to insti-
tutions and an organization which they felt to be a standing
menace to the established order of things in their older com-
A few extracts from this very long letter have a special
interest from the time at which they were written : —
" Legation of U. S. op America, Vienna,
February 26, 1862.
" My dear Holmes, — ... I take great pleasure in reading your
prophecies, and intend to be just as free in hazarding my own, for, as
you say, our mortal life is but a string of guesses at the future, and
no one but an idiot would be discouraged at finding himself sometimes
far out in his calculations. It* I find you signally right in any of your
predictions, be sure that I will congratulate and applaud. If you
make mistakes, you shall never hear of them again, and I promise to
forget them. Let me ask the same indulgence from you in return.
This is what makes letter-writing a comfort and journalizing dangerous.
. . . The ides of March will be upon us before this letter reaches you.
We have got to squash the rebellion soon, or be squashed for ever as a
nation. I don't pretend to judge military plans or the capacities of
generals. But, as you suggest, perhaps I can take a more just view
of the whole picture of the eventful struggle at this great distance
than do those absolutely acting and suffering on the scene. Nor can I
resist the desire to prophesj' any more than you can do, knowing that
I may prove utterly mistaken. I say, then, that one great danger
comes from the chance of foreign interference. What will prevent
" Our utterly defeating the Confederates in some great and conclu-
sive battle ; or,
" Our possession of the cotton-ports and opening them to European
"A most unequivocal policy of slave emancipation.
1878.] MEMOIE OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 443
" Any one of these three conditions would stave off recognition by
foreign powers, until we had ourselves abandoned the attempt to reduce
the South to obedience.
" The last measure is to my mind the most important. The South
has, by going to war with the United States Government, thrust into
our hands against our will the invincible weapon which constitutional
reasons had hitherto forbidden us to employ. At the same time it has
given us the power to remedy a great wrong to four millions of the
humau race, in which we had hitherto been obliged to acquiesce. We
are threatened with national annihilation, and defied to use the only
means of national preservation.
" The question is distinctly proposed to us, Shall slavery die, or the
great Republic ? It is most astounding to me that there can be two
opinions in the free States as to the answer.
" If we do fall, we deserve our fate. At the beginning of the contest,
constitutional scruples might be respectable. But now we are fighting
to subjugate the South ; that is, Slavery. We are fighting for nothing
else that I know of. We are fighting for the Union. Who wishes
to destroy the Union? The slaveholder, nobody else. Are we to
spend twelve hundred millions, and raise six hundred thousand soldiers,
in order to protect slavery ? It really does seem to me too simple for
argument. I am anxiously waiting for the comiug Columbus who will
set this egg of ours on end by smashing in the slavery end. We shall
be rolling about in every direction until that is done. I don't know that
it is to be done by proclamation. Rather perhaps by facts. . . . Well,
I console myself with thinking that the people — the American people,
at least — is about as wise collectively as less numerous collections of
individuals, and that the people has really declared emancipation, and
is only puzzling how to carry it into effect. After all, it seems to be
a law of Providence, that progress should be by a spiral movement ;
so that when it seems most tortuous, we may perhaps be going ahead.
I am firm in the faith that slavery is now wriggling itself to death.
With slavery in its pristine vigor, I should think the restored Union
neither possible nor desirable. Don't understand me as not taking
into account all the strategical considerations against premature gov-
ernmental utterances on this great subject. But are there any trust-
worthy friends to the Union among the slaveholders ? Should we
lose many Kentuckians and Virginians who are now with us, if we
boldly confiscated the slaves of all rebels, and a confiscation of property
which has legs and so confiscates itself, at command, is not only a legal,
but would prove a very practical measure in time of war. Iu brief,
the time is fast approaching, I think, when ' Thorough ' should be
written on all our banners. Slavery will never accept a subordinate
position. The great Republic and Slavery cannot both survive. We
have been defied to mortal combat, and yet we hesitate to strike.
These are my poor thoughts on this great subject. Perhaps you will
think them crude. I was much struck with what you quote from Mr.
Conway, that if emancipation was proclaimed ou the Upper Mississippi
it would be known to the negroes of Louisiana in advance of the tele-
444 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
graph. And if once the blacks had leave to run, how many whites
would have to stay at home to guard their dissolving property ?
" You have had enough of my maunderings. But before I con-
clude them, may I ask you to give all our kindest regards to Lowell,
and to express our admiration for the Yankee Idyll. I am afraid of
using too extravagant language if I say all I think about it. Was
there ever any thing more stinging, more concentrated, more vigorous,
more just ? He has condensed into those few pages the essence of a
hundred diplomatic papers and historical disquisitions and Fourth of
July orations. I was dining a day or two since with his friend Lyt-
ton (Bulwer's son, attache here) . . . and Julian Fane (Secretary of
the embassy), both great admirers of him, — and especially of the
• Biglow Papers,' — they begged me to send them the Mason and Sli-
dell Idyll, but I wouldn't, — I don't think it is in English nature
(although theirs is very cosmopolitan and liberal) to take such punish-
ment and come up smiling. I would rather they got it in some other
way, and then told me what they thought voluntarily.
" I have very pleasant relations with all the J. B.'s here. They
are all friendly and well disposed to the North, — I speak of the em-
bassy, which, with the ambassador and dress numbers eight or
ten souls, — some of them very intellectual ones. There are no other
J. B.'s here. I have no fear at present of foreign interference. We
have got three or four months to do our work in, — a fair field and no
favor. There is no question whatever that the Southern Commission-
ers have been thoroughly snubbed in London and Paris. There is to
be a blockade debate in Parliament next week, but no bad consequences
are to be apprehended. The Duke de Gramont (French Embas-
sador, and an intimate friend of the Emperor) told my wife last
night that it was entirely false that the Emperor had ever urged the
English government to break the blockade. ' Don't believe it, — don't
believe a word of it,' he said. He has always held that language to
me. He added that Prince Napoleon had just come out with a strong
speech about us, — you will see it, doubtless, before you get this letter,
— but it has not yet reached us.
" Shall I say any thing of Austria, — what can I say that would
interest you ? That's the reason why I hate to write. All my
thoughts are in America. Do you care to know about the Archduke
Ferdinand Maximilian, that shall be King hereafter of Mexico (if
L. N. has his way) ? He is next brother to the Emperor, but although
I have had the honor of private audiences of many archdukes here,
this one is £t resident of Trieste.
" He is about thirty, — has an adventurous disposition, — some im-
agination, — a turn for poetry, — has voyaged a good deal about the
world in the Austrian ship-of-war, — for in one respect he much re-
sembles that unfortunate but anonymous ancestor of his, the King of
Bohemia with the seven castles, who, according to Corporal Trim, had
such a passion for navigation and sea-affairs, ' with never a seaport in
all his dominions.' But now the present King of Bohemia has got
the sway of Trieste, and is Lord High Admiral and Chief of the
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHK LOTHROP MOTLEY. 445
Marine Department. He has been much in Spain, also in South
America, — I have read some travels, Beise Skizzen, of his — printed,
not published. They are not without talent, and he ever and anon re-
lieves his prose jog-trot by breaking into a canter of poetry. He adores
bull-fights, and rather regrets the Inquisition, and considers the Duke of
Alva every thing noble and chivalrous, and the most abused of men.
It would do your heart good to hear his invocations to that deeply
injured shade, and his denunciations of the ignorant and vulgar prot-
estants who have defamed him. (N. B. Let me observe that the B.
of the D. B. was not published until long after the Beise Skizzen
were written.) Du armer Alva ! weil du dem Willen deines Herrn
unerschutterlich treu wast, weil die festbestimmten grundsatze der
Begierung, etc., etc., etc. You can imagine the rest.
" Dear me ! I wish I could get back to the sixteenth and seven-
teenth century. . . . But alas ! the events of the nineteenth are too
" If Lowell cares to read this letter, will you allow me to ' make
it over to him jointly,' as Captain Cuttle says ? I wished to write to
him, but I am afraid only you would tolerate my writing so much
when I have nothing to say. If he would ever send me a line I
should be infinitely obliged, and would quickly respond. We read
the ' Washers of the Shroud ' with fervid admiration.
" Always remember me most sincerely to the Club, one and all. It
touches me nearly when you assure me that I am not forgotten by
them. To-morrow is Saturday and the last of the month. We are
going to dine with our Spanish colleague. But the first bumper of
the Don's champagne I shall drain to the health of my Parker House
From another long letter dated August 31, 1862, I extract
the following passages : —
" I quite agree in all that you said in your last letter. ' The imp
of secession can't re-enter its mother's womb.' It is merely childish
to talk of the Union 'as it was.' You might as well bring back the
Saxon Heptarchy. But the Great Bepublic is destined to live and
flourish, I can't doubt. . . . Do you remember that wonderful scene
in ' Faust ' in which Mephistopheles draws wine for the rabble with a
gimlet out of the wooden table ; and how it changes to fire as they
drink it, and how they all go mad, draw their knives, grasp each other
by the nose, and think they are cutting off bunches of grapes at every
blow, and how foolish they all look when they awake from the spell
and see how the Devil has been mocking them ? It always seems to
me a parable of the great Secession.
" I repeat, I can't doubt as to the ultimate result. But I dare say
we have all been much mistaken in our calculations as to time. Days,
months, years, are nothing in history. Men die, man is immortal,
practically, even on this earth. We are so impatient, — and we are
always watching for the last scene of the tragedy. Now I humbly
446 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
opine that the drop is only about falling on the first act, or perhaps
only the prologue. This act or prologue will be called, in after days,
War for the status quo.
" Such enthusiasm, heroism, and manslaughter as status quo could
inspire, has, I trust, been not entirely in vain, but it has been proved
" I firmly believe that when the slaveholders declared war on the
United States Government they began a series of events that, in the
logical chain of history, cannot come to a conclusion until the last
vestige of slavery is gone. Looking at the whole field for a moment
dispassionately, objectively, as the dear Teutonic philosophers say, and
merely as an exhibition of phenomena, I cannot imagine any other
issue. Every thing else may happen. This alone must happen.
" But after all this isn't a war. It is a revolution. It isn't strate-
gists that are wanted so much as believers. In revolutions, the men
who win are those who are in earnest. Jeff and Stonewall and the
other Devil-worshippers are in earnest, but it was not written in the
book of fate that the slaveholders' rebellion should be vanquished by a
pro-slavery general. History is never so illogical. No, the coming
' man on horseback ' on our side must be a great strategist, with the
soul of that insane lion, mad old John Brown, in his belly. That is
your only Promethean recipe : —
' et insani leonis
Vim stomacho apposuisse nostro.'
" I don't know why Horace runs so in my head this morning. . . .
" There will be work enough for all — but I feel awfully fidgety
just now about Port Royal and Hilton Head, and about affairs gen-
erally for the next three months. After that, iron-clads and the new
levies must make us invincible."
In another letter, dated November 2, 1862, he expresses
himself very warmly about his disappointment in the attitude
of many of his old English friends with reference to our civil
conflict. He had recently heard the details of the death of
" the noble Wilder Dwight."
" It is unnecessary," he says, " to say how deeply we were moved.
I had the pleasure of knowing him well, and I always appreciated his
energy, his manliness, and his intelligent, cheerful heroism. I look
back upon him now as a kind of heroic type of what a young New-
Englander ought to be and was. I tell you that one of these days —
after a generation of mankind has passed away — these youths will
take their places in our history, and be regarded by the young men
and women now unborn with the admiration which the Philip Sidneys
and the Max Piccolominis now inspire. After all, what was your
Chevy Chace to stir blood with like a trumpet ? What noble princi-
ple, what deathless interest, was there at stake? Nothing but a bloody
fight between a lot of noble gamekeepers on one side and of noble
1878.] MEMOIR OP JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 447
poachers on the other. And because they fought well and hacked
each other to pieces like devils, they have been heroes for cen-
turies." . . .
The letter was written in a very excited state of feeling,
and runs over with passionate love of country and indigna-
tion at the want of sympathy with the cause of freedom
which he had found in quarters where he had not expected
such coldness or hostile tendencies.
From a letter dated Vienna, September 22, 1863 : —
"... When you wrote me last you said on general matters this :
' In a few days we shall get the news of the success or failure of the
attacks on Port Hudson and Vicksburg. If both are successful, many
will say that the whole matter is about settled.' You may suppose
that when I got the great news I shook hands warmly with you in the
spirit across the Atlantic. Day by day for so long we had been
hoping to hear the fall of Vicksburg. At last when that little con-
centrated telegram came announcing Vicksburg and Gettysburg on
the same day and in two lines, I found myself almost alone. . . There
was nobody in the house to join in my huzzas but my youngest infant.
And my conduct very much resembled that of the excellent Philip II.
when he heard the fall of Antwerp, — for I went to her door, screech-
ing through the key-hole ! ' Vicksburg is ours,' just as that other pere
de famille, more potent, but I trust not more respectable than I, con-
veyed the news to his Infanta. (Vide, for the incident, an American
work on the Netherlands, I. p. 263, and the authorities there cited.)
It is contemptible on my part to speak thus frivolously of events which
will stand out in such golden letters so long as America has a history,
but I wanted to illustrate the yearning for sympathy which I felt.
You who were among people grim and self-contained usually, who, I
(rust, were falling on each other's necks in the public streets, shouting,
with tears in their eyes, and triumph in their hearts, can picture my
" I have never faltered in my faith, and in the darkest hours, when
misfortunes seemed thronging most thickly upon us, I have never felt
the want of any thing to lean against ; but I own I did feel like shak-
ing hands with a few hundred people when I heard of our Fourth of
July, 1863, work, and should like to have heard and joined in an
American cheer or two. . . .
"... I have not much to say of matters here to interest you. "We
have had an intensely hot, historically hot, and very long and very dry
summer. I never knew before what a drought meant. In Hungary
the suffering is great, and the people are killing the sheep to feed the
pigs with the mutton. Here about Vienna the trees have been almost
stripped of foliage ever since the end of August. There is no glory
in the grass nor verdure in any thing.
" In fact, we have nothing green here but the Archduke Max, who
firmly believes that he is going forth to Mexico to establish an Ameri-
448 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
can empire, and that it is his divine mission to destroy the dragon of
democracy and re-establish the true Church, the Right Divine, and all
sorts of games. Poor young man ! . . .
" Our information from home is to the 12th. Charleston seems to
be in articulo mortis, but how forts nowadays seem to fly in the face
of Scripture. Those founded on a rock and built of it fall easily
enough under the rain of Parrotts and Dahlgrens, while the house built
of sand seems to bid defiance to the storm."
In quoting from these confidential letters I have been re-
strained from doing full justice to their writer by the fact
that he spoke with such entire freedom of persons as well as
events. But, if they could be read from beginning to end, no
one could help feeling that his love for his own country, and
passionate absorption of every thought in the strife upon
which its existence as a nation depended, were his very life
during all this agonizing period. He can think and talk of
nothing else, or, if he turns for a moment to other subjects,
he reverts to the one great central interest of " American
politics," of which he says in one of the letters from which I
have quoted, " There is nothing else worth thinking of in the
But with his public record before the world as the histo-
rian of the struggle for liberty, and the champion of its de-
fenders, with this private record betraying in every word the
intensity of his patriotic feeling, he was not safe against the
attacks of malevolence. A train laid by unseen hands was
waiting for the spark to kindle it, and this came at last in the
shape of a letter from an unknown individual, — a letter the
existence of which ought never to have been a matter of
It is a relief to me, that just here, where I come to the first
painful episode in this brilliant and fortunate career, I can
borrow the words in which one who speaks with authority
eulogizes the qualities of his predecessor in office.
The Hon. John Jay, Ex-Minister to Austria, in the Tribute
to the memory of Motley read at a meeting of the New York
Historical Society, wrote as follows : —
" In singular contrast to Mr. Motley's brilliant career as an histo-
rian stands the fact recorded in our diplomatic annals that he was twice
forced from the service as one who had forfeited the confidence of the
American Government. This Society while he was living, recognized
his fame as a statesman, diplomatist, and patriot, as belonging to
America, and now that death has closed the career of Seward, Sum-
ner, and Motley, it will be remembered that the great historian, twice
humiliated, by orders from Washington, before the diplomacy and
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 449
culture of Europe, appealed from the passions of the hour to the ver-
dict of history.
" Having succeeded Mr. Motley at Vienna some two years after his
departure, I had occasion to read most of his despatches, which ex-
hibited a mastery of the subjects of which they treated, with much of
the clear perception, the scholarly and philosophic tone and decided
judgment, which, supplemented by his picturesque description, full of
life and color, have given character to his histories. They are features
which might well have served to extend the remark of Madame de
Stael that a great historian is almost a statesman. I can speak also
from my own observation of the reputation which Motley left in the
Austrian capital. Notwithstanding the decision with which, under
the direction of Mr. Seward, he had addressed the minister of Foreign
Affairs, Count MensdorfF, afterwards the Prince Diedrickstein, protest-
ing against the departure of an Austrian force of one thousand volun-
teers, who were about to embark for Mexico in aid of the ill-fated
Maximilian, — a protest which at the last moment arrested the project,
— Mr. Motley and his amiable family were always spoken of in terms
of cordial regard and respect by members of the imperial family and
those eminent statesmen, Count de Beust and Count Andrassy. His
death, I am sure, is mourned to-day by the representatives of the
historic names of Austria and by the surviving diplomats then residing
near the Court of Vienna, wherever they may still be found, headed
by their venerable Doyen, the Baron de Heck6ren."
The circumstances under which Mr. Motley left his posi-
tion as Minister at Vienna were briefly these. A letter of a
very vulgar and abusive character was addressed to President
Johnson, in which several of our foreign ministers and other
public functionaries were accused of disrespect to the Gov-
ernment and other misconduct. It was, so far as can be
ascertained, practically anonymous, for no owner was found
for the name it bore. Among others who were the sub-
ject of its coarse abuse was Mr. Motley. Mr. Seward, the
Secretary of State, saw fit to send copies of this letter or
extracts from it to the officials accused, asking them whether
or not the accusations were well founded. Mr. Motley
considered the questions addressed to him on the strength
of a letter from an unknown and, so far as appeared, an
irresponsible source, as insulting. He indignantly denied the
charges, expressed himself as deeply wounded that the Secre-
tary could have listened to such falsehoods, at the same time
stating his opinions on some of the great subjects then agitated
and claiming the right which belongs to every American citi-
zen of discussing such questions in the privacy of his own
household. In conclusion he sent his resignation as Minister
to the Government which had, as he considered, subjected him
450 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
to an indignity. Mr. Seward had written in reply to Motley,
it is said, that his answer was satisfactory, and declining
to accept his resignation, when a few words from President
Johnson, who was " in a state of intense irritation and more
or less suspicious of everybody about him," changed his
intentions, and the resignation was accepted.
Thus finished Mr. Motley's long and successful diplomatic
service at the Court cf Austria. He may have been judged
hasty in resigning his place ; he may have committed himself
in expressing his opinions too strongly before strangers, whose
true character as spies and eavesdroppers he was too high-
minded to suspect. But no caution could have protected him
against a slanderer who hated the place he came from, the
company he kept, the name he had made famous, to whom
his very look and bearing — such as belong to a gentleman of
natural refinement and good breeding — must have been a
personal grievance and an unpardonable offence.
In his letter to me of March 12, 1867, Mr. Motley writes: —
" My two concluding volumes of the United Netherlands are pass-
ing rapidly through the press. Indeed Volume III. is entirely
printed, and a third of Volume IV.
" If I live ten years longer I shall have prohably written the natural
sequel to the two first works, — viz., the Thirty Years' War. After
that I shall cease to scourge the public.
" I don't know whether my last two volumes are good or bad — I
only know that they are true — but that needn't make them amusing.
" Alas — one never knows when one becomes a bore."
In 1868 the two concluding volumes of the " History of the
Netherlands " were published at the same time in London
and in New York. The events described and the characters
delineated in these two volumes had, perhaps, less peculiar
interest for English and American readers than some of those
which had lent attraction to the preceding ones. There was
no scene like the siege of Antwerp, no story like that of the.
Spanish Armada. There were no names that sounded to our
ears like those of Sir Philip Sidney and Leicester and Amy
Robsart. But the main course of his narrative flowed on
with the same breadth and depth of learning and the same
brilliancy of expression. The monumental work continued
as nobly as it had begun. The facts had been slowly, quietly
gathered one by one, like pebbles from the empty channel of
a brook. The style was fluent, impetuous, abundant, impa-
tient, as it were, at times, and leaping the sober boundaries
prescribed to it, like the torrent which rushes through the
1878.] MEMOIE OF JOHN LOTHBOP MOTLEY. 451
same channel when the rains have filled it. Thus there was
matter for criticism in his use of language. He was not
always careful in the construction of his sentences. He
introduced expressions now and then into his vocabulary
which reminded one of his earlier literary efforts. He used
stronger language at times than was necessary, coloring too
highly, shading too deeply in his pictorial delineations. To
come to the matter of his story, it must be granted that not
every reader will care to follow him through all the details of
diplomatic intrigues which he has with such industry and
sagacity extricated from the old manuscripts in which they
had long laid hidden. But we turn a few pages and we come
to one of those descriptions that arrest us at once, and show
him in his power and brilliancy as a literary artist. His
characters move before us with the features of life ; we can
see Elizabeth, or Philip, or Maurice, not as a name connected
with events, but as a breathing and acting human being,
to be loved or hated, admired or despised, as if he or she
were our contemporary. That all his judgments would not
be accepted as final we might easily anticipate ; he could not
help writing more or less as a partisan, but he was a partisan
on the side of freedom in politics and religion, of human
nature as against every form of tyranny, secular or priestly ;
of noble manhood wherever he saw it as against meanness
and violence and imposture, whether clad in the soldier's
mail or the emperor's purple. His sternest critics, and even
these admiring ones, were yet to be found among those who,
with fundamental beliefs at variance with his own, followed
him in his long researches among the dusty annals of the
The work of the learned M. Groen van Prinsterer (" Mau-
rice et Barnevelt, Etude Historique. Utrecht, 1875 "),
devoted expressly to the revision and correction of what the
author considers the erroneous views of Motley on certain
important points, bears, notwithstanding, such sincere and
hearty tribute to his industry, his acquisitions, his brilliant
qualities as an historian, that some extracts from it will be
read, I think, with interest : —
" My first interview, more than twenty years ago, with Mr. Lothrop
Motley, has left an indelible impression on my memory.
" It was the 8th of August, 1853. A note is handed me from our
eminent Archivist Bakhuizen van den Brink. It informs me that I
am to receive a visit from an American, who, having been struck by
the analogies between the United Provinces and the United States,
between Washington and the founder of our independence, has inter-
452 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
rupted his diplomatic career to write the Life of William the First ;
that he has already given proof of ardor and perseverance, having
worked in libraries and among collections of manuscripts, and that he
is coming to pursue his studies at the Hague.
" While I am surprised and delighted with this intelligence, I am
informed that Mr. Motley himself is waiting for my answer. My
eagerness to make the acquaintance of such an associate in my sympa-
thies and my labors may be well imagined. But how shall I picture
my surprise, in presently discovering that this unknown and indefati-
gable fellow-worker has really read, I say read and re-read our Quartos,
our Folios, the enormous volumes of Bor, of van Meteren, besides a
multitude of books, of pamphlets, and even of unedited documents.
Already is he familiar with the events, the changes of condition, the
characteristic details of the life of his and my hero. Not only is he
acquainted with my Archives, but it seems as if there was nothing in
this voluminous collection of which he was ignorant. . . .
" In sending me the last volume of his History of the Foundation
of the Republic of the Netherlands, Mr. Motley wrote to me : ' With-
out the help of the Archives I could never have undertaken the diffi-
cult task I had set myself, and you will have seen at least from my
numerous citations that I have made a sincere and conscientious study
of them.' Certainly in reading such a testimonial I congratulated
myself on the excellent fruit of my labors, but the gratitude expressed
to me by Mr. Motley was sincerely reciprocated. The Archives are
a scientific collection, and my Manual of National History, written in
Dutch, hardly gets beyond the limits of my own country. And here
is a stranger, become our compatriot in virtue of the warmth of his
sympathies, who has accomplished what was not in my power. By
the detail and the charm of his narrative, by the matter and form of a
work which the universality of the English language and numerous
translations were to render cosmopolitan, Mr. Motley, like that other
illustrious historian, Prescott, lost to science by too early death, has
popularized in both hemispheres the sublime devotion of the Prince of
Orange, the exceptional and providential destinies of my country, and
the benedictions of the Eternal for all those who trust in Him and
tremble only at his word."
In that higher region of facts which belongs to the histo-
rian, whose task it is to interpret as well as to transcribe,
Motley showed, of course, the political and religious school in
which he had been brought up. Every man has a right to
his " personal equation " of prejudice, and Motley, whose ar-
dent temperament gave life to his writings, betrayed his sym-
pathies in the disputes of which he told the story, in a way
to insure sharp criticism from those of a different way of
thinking. Thus it is that in the work of M. Groen van Prin-
sterer, from which I have quoted, Motley is considered as
having been betrayed into error, " in spite of his manifest
1878.] MEMOIK OP JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 453
desire to be scrupulously impartial and truth-telling." And
M. Fruin, another of his Dutch critics, says, " His sincerity,
his perspicacity, the accuracy of his laborious researches, are
Some further criticisms of Dutch scholars will be consid-
ered in the pages which deal with his last work, " The Life
of John of Barneveld."
In June, 1868, Mr. Motley returned with his family to
Boston, and established himself at the house No. 2 Park
Street. During his residence here he entered a good deal
into society, and entertained many visitors in a most hospita-
ble and pleasant way.
On the 20th of October, 1868, he delivered an address be-
fore the Parker Fraternity, in the Music Hall, by special invi-
tation. Its title was " Four Questions for the People, at the
Presidential Election." This was of course what is com-
monly called an electioneering speech, but a speech full of
noble sentiments and eloquent expression. Here are two of
its paragraphs : —
" Certainly there have been bitterly contested elections in this
country before. Party spirit is always rife, and in such vivid, excitable,
disputatious communities as ours are, and I trust always will be, it is
the very soul of freedom. To those who reflect upon the means and
end of popular government, nothing seems more stupid than in grand
generalities to deprecate party spirit. Why, government by parties
and through party machinery is the only possible method by which a
free government can accomplish the purpose of its existence. The
old republics of the past may be said to have fallen, not because of
party spirit, but because there was no adequate machinery by which
party spirit could develop itself with facility and regularity."
"... And if our republic be true to herself, the future of the
human race is assured by our example. No sweep of overwhelming
armies, no ponderous treatises on the rights of man, no hymns to lib-
erty, though set to martial music and sounding with the full diapason
of a million human throats, can exert so persuasive an influence as
does the spectacle of a great republic, occupying a quarter of the civ-
ilized globe, and governed quietly and sageiy by the people itself."
A large portion of this address is devoted to the proposi-
tion that it is just and reasonable to pay our debts rather than
to repudiate them, and that the nation is as much bound to
be honest as is the individual. " It is an awful thing," he
says, " that this should be a question at all," but it was one
of the points on which the election turned, for all that.
454 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
In his advocacy of the candidate with whom and the gov-
ernment of which he became the head his relations became
afterwards so full of bitter antagonism, he spoke as a man of
his ardent nature might be expected to speak on such an oc-
casion. No one doubts that his admiration of General Grant's
career was perfectly sincere, and no one at the present day
can deny that the great Captain stood before the country at
that time with such a record as one familiar with the history
of heroes and patriots might well consider as entitling him to
the honors too often grudged to the living to be wasted on
the dead. The speaker only gave voice to the widely pre-
vailing feelings which had led to his receiving the invitation
to speak. The time was one which called for outspoken ut-
terance, and there was not a listener whose heart did not
warm as he heard the glowing words in which the historian
recorded the noble achievements of the soldier who must in
so many ways have reminded him of his favorite character,
William the Silent.
On the 16th of December of this same year, 1868, Mr.
Motley delivered an address before the New York Historical
Society, on the occasion of the sixty-fourth anniversary of its
foundation. The president of the society, Mr. Hamilton
Fish, introduced the speaker as one " whose name belongs to
no single country, and to no single age. As a statesman and
diplomatist and patriot, he belongs to America ; as a scholar,
to the world of letters; as an historian, all ages will claim
him in the future."
His subject was " Historic Progress and American Democ-
racy." The discourse is, to use his own words, " a rapid
sweep through the eons and the centuries," illustrating the
great truth of the development of the race from its origin to
the time in which we are living. It is a long cry from the
planetary fact of the obliquity of the equator, which gave
the earth its alternation of seasons, and rendered the history,
if not the existence of man and of civilization a possibility,
to the surrender of General Lee under the apple-tree at Ap-
pomattox Court-House. No one but a scholar familiar with
the course of history could have marshalled such a procession
of events into a connected and intelligent sequence. It is
indeed a flight rather than a march ; the reader is borne along
as on the wings of a soaring poem, and sees the rising and
decaying empires of history beneath him as a bird of passage
marks the succession of cities and wilds and deserts as he
keeps pace with the sun in his journey. Its eloquence, its
patriotism, its crowded illustrations, drawn from vast resources
1878.] MEMOIE OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 455
of knowledge, its epigrammatic axioms, its occasional pleas-
antries, are all characteristic of the writer.
Mr. Gulian C. Verplanck, the venerable senior member of
the society, proposed the vote of thanks to Mr. Motley with
words of warm commendation.
Mr. William Cullen Bryant rose and said : —
" I take great pleasure in seconding the resolution which has just
been read. The eminent historian of the Dutch Republic, who has
made the story of its earlier days as interesting as that of Athens and
Sparta, and who has infused into the narrative the generous glow of
his own genius, has the highest of titles to be heard with respectful
attention by the citizens of a community which, in its origin, was an
offshoot of that renowned republic. And cheerfully has that title
been recognized, as the vast audience assembled here to-night, in spite
of the storm, fully testifies ; and well has our illustrious friend spoken
of the growth of civilization and of the improvement in the condition of
mankind, both in the Old World — the institutions of which he has so
lately observed — and in the country which is proud to claim him as
one of her children."
Soon after the election of General Grant, Mr. Motley re-
ceived the appointment of Minister to England. That the
position was one which was in many respects most agreeable
to him cannot be doubted. Yet it was not with unmingled
feelings of satisfaction, not without misgivings which warned
him but too truly of the dangers about to encompass him,
that he accepted the place. He writes to me on April 16,
1869 : —
"... I feel any thing but exultation at present, — rather the oppo-
site sensation. I feel that I am placed higher than I deserve, and at
the same time that I am taking greater responsibilities than ever were
assumed by me before. You will be indulgent to my mistakes and
short-comings, — and who can expect to avoid them ? But the world
will be cruel, and the times are threatening. I shall do my best —
but the best may be poor enough — and keep ' a heart for any
The misgivings thus expressed to me in confidence, natural
enough in one who had already known what it is to fall on
evil days and evil tongues, were but too well justified by
after events. Mr. Motley, was cordially received on his arri-
val in England. At Liverpool he was welcomed in addresses
from the Liverpool and the American Chambers of Com-
merce, to which he replied in a strain of corresponding good
feeling. He established himself in London in the fine resi-
456 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
dence 17 Arlington Street, belonging to Lord Yarborough,
and entered on his duties with earnest devotion and with
Soon after his arrival he had an official interview with Lord
Clarendon, the Foreign Secretary, of which he sent a full
report to his Government. Although his conversation as
reported by him was in the main approved of, some points
were thought not to have been presented in the precise sense
of his instructions, and a hint to that effect was conveyed to
him by the Government. He had shown his notes of the
conversation to Lord Clarendon for his verification, and inad-
vertently, as he said, allowed some weeks to elapse before
mentioning this fact in one of his despatches. Many months
had passed without any new cause of complaint, so far as
appears, when he was surprised to receive a notice that his
resignation would be accepted. Considering that such a step
would imply that he felt as if he had failed in the duties of
his office, he declined to leave his position, and was almost
In the opinion of Mr. Motley and many others different
reasons from those alleged were at the bottom of the action
of the Government. Mr. Sumner had been active in procur-
ing Mr. Motley's appointment as Minister to England. There
had arisen an unfortunate difference between the President
and Mr. Sumner, then Chairman of the Committee of the
Senate on Foreign Affairs, on the subject of a treaty with
San Domingo. This had produced a strong feeling on the
part of the President against the statesman who persistently
opposed one of his favorite projects, — a feeling which it was
thought extended to those who were in intimate relations
with him. As the recall of Mr. Motley followed immediately
after the rejection of the San Domingo treaty, the coin-
cidence was considered by him and those who took his part
as something more than accidental. I have examined the
evidence elsewhere, and content myself here with mentioning
the chief points on which it turned.
The comment of the " London Daily News " on Mr. Mot-
ley's dismissal was as follows : —
"We are violating no confidence in saying that all the hopes of
Mr. Motley's official residence in England have been amply fulfilled,
and that the announcement of his unexpected and unexplained recall
was received with extreme astonishment and unfeigned regret. The
vacancy he leaves cannot possibly be filled by a Minister more sen-
sitive to the honor of his government, more attentive to the interests
of his country, and more capable of uniting the most vigorous per-
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHK LOTHBOP MOTLEY. 457
formance of his public duties with the high-bred courtesy and con-
ciliatory tact and temper that make those duties easy and successful.
Mr. Motley's successor will find his mission wonderfully facilitated by
the firmness and discretion that have presided over the conduct of
American affairs in this country during too brief a term, too suddenly
and unaccountably concluded."
The full title of Motley's next and last work is " The Life
and Death of John of Barneveld, Advocate of Holland ; with
a View of the Primary Causes and Movements of the Thirty
In point of fact, this work is a history rather than a bio-
graphy. It is an interlude, a pause between the acts which
were to fill out the complete plan of the " Eighty Years'
Tragedy," and of which the last act, the Thirty Years' War,
remains unwritten. In a literary point of view, M. Groen
van Prinsterer, whose elaborate work has been already referred
to, speaks of it as perhaps the most classical of Motley's pro-
ductions, but it is upon this work that the fire of his own
and other Dutch criticisms has been chiefly expended.
The key to this biographical history or historical biography
may be found in a few sentences from its opening chapter : —
" There have been few men at any period whose lives have been
more closely identical than his [Barneveld's] with a national history.
There have been few great men in any history whose names have
become less familiar to the world, and lived less in the mouths of pos-
terity. Yet there can be no doubt that if William the Silent was the
founder of the independence of the United Provinces, Barneveld was
the founder of the Commonwealth itself. . . .
" Had that country of which he was so long the first citizen main-
tained until our own day the same proportional position among the
empires of Christendom as it held in the seventeenth century, the name
of John of Barneveld would have perhaps been as familiar to all men
as it is at this moment to nearly every inhabitant of the Netherlands.
Even now political passion is almost as ready to flame forth, either in
ardent affection or enthusiastic hatred, as if two centuries and a half
had not elapsed since his death. His name is so typical of a party, a
polity, and a faith, so indelibly associated with a great historical cata-
clysm, as to render it difficult even for the grave, the conscientious, the
learned, the patriotic of his own compatriots to speak of him with
" A foreigner who loves and admires all that is great and noble in
the history of that famous republic, and can have no hereditary bias as
to its ecclesiastical or political theories, may at least attempt the task
with comparative coldness, although conscious of inability to do
thorough justice to a most complex subject."
458 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
With all Motley's efforts to be impartial, to which even his
sternest critics bear witness, he could not help becoming a
partisan of the cause which for him was that of religious
liberty and progress, as against the accepted formula of an
old ecclesiastical organization. For the quarrel which came
near being a civil war, which convulsed the State, and cost
Barneveld his head, was on certain points, and more espe-
cially on a single point, of religious doctrine.
As great rivers may be traced back until their fountain-
heads are found in a thread or two of water streaming from a
cleft in the rocks, so great national movements may often be
followed until their starting-point is found in the cell of a
monk or the studies of a pair of wrangling professors.
The little old quarto of Meursius is before me with the
portraits, among many others, of two of the learned men who in
the early part of the seventeenth century were teaching from
the Chair in the University of Leyden, — Franciscus Gomarus,
and Jacobus Arminius. The face of the first is heavy, robust,
grave, of severe, if not repellent expression. That of the
second is of mild aspect, obviously showing an amiable dis-
position and an easy temperament. Some of us remember
the same contrast in the faces that might in former days be
seen occupying successively the same pulpits.
Under the name of " Remonstrants " and " Contra-Remon-
strants," Arminians and old-fashioned Calvinists, as we should
say, the adherents of the two Professors disputed the right
to the possession of the churches, and to be considered as
representing the national religion. Of the seven United Prov-
inces, two, Holland and Utrecht, were prevailingly Armin-
ian, and the other five Calvinistic. Barneveld, who, under
the title of Advocate, represented the Province of Holland,
the most important of them all, claimed for each Province a
right to determine its own State religion. Maurice the Stad-
holder, son of William the Silent, the military chief of the
Republic, claimed the right for the States-General. Cujus
regio ejus religio was then the accepted public doctrine of
Protestant nations. Thus the Provincial and the General
governments were brought into conflict, and the question
whether the Republic was a Confederation or a Nation, the
same question which has been practically raised, and for the
time at least settled, in our own Republic, was in some way
to be decided. After various disturbances and acts of vio-
lence by both parties, Maurice, representing the States-Gen-
eral, pronounced for the Calvinists or Contra-Remonstrants,
and took possession of one of the great Churches, as an
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 459
assertion of his authority. Barn e veld, representing the Ar-
minian, or Remonstrant Provinces, levied a body of mercenary
soldiers in several of the cities. These were disbanded by
Maurice, and afterwards by an act of the States-General.
Barneveld was apprehended, imprisoned, and executed, after
an examination which was in no proper sense a trial. Gro-
tius, who was on the Arminian side and involved in the incul-
pated proceedings, was also arrested and imprisoned. His
escape, by a stratagem successfully repeated by a slave in
our own times, may challenge comparison for its romantic
interest with any chapter of fiction. How his wife packed
him into the chest supposed to contain the folios of the great
Oriental scholar Erpenius ; how the soldiers wondered at its
weight, and questioned whether it did not hold an Arminian ;
how the servant-maid, Elsje van Houwening, quick-witted as
Morgiana of the " Forty Thieves," parried their questions and
convoyed her master safely to the friendly place of refuge, —
all this must be read in the vivid narrative of the author.
The grounds of the religious quarrel which set these seven-
teenth-century Dutchmen to cutting each other's throats,
were to be looked for in the " Five Points " of the Arminians
as arrayed against the " Seven Points " of the Gomarites, or
Contra-Remonstrants. The most important of the differences
which were to be settled by fratricide seem to be these : —
According to the Five Points, " God has from eternity
resolved to choose to eternal life those who through his grace
believe in Jesus Christ," etc. According to the Seven Points,
" God in his election has not looked at the belief and the
repentance of the elect," etc. According to the Five Points,
all good deeds must be ascribed to God's grace in Christ, but
it does not work irresistibly. The language of the Seven
Points implies that the elect cannot resist God's eternal and
unchangeable design to give them faith and steadfastness,
and that they can never wholly and for always lose the true
faith. The language of the Five Points is unsettled as to
the last proposition, but it was afterwards maintained by the
Remonstrant party that a true believer could, through his
own fault, fall away from God and lose faith.
It must be remembered that these religious questions had
an immediate connection with politics. Independently of the
conflict of jurisdiction, in which they involved the parties to
the two different creeds, it was believed or pretended that
the new doctrines of the Remonstrants were allied with
designs which threatened the independence of the country.
" There are two factions in the land," said Maurice, " that
460 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
of Orange and that of Spain, and the two chiefs of the
Spanish faction are those political and priestly Arminians,
Uytenbogaert and Oldenbarneveld."
" To understand the imminence and the greatness of the
danger," says M. Groen van Prinsterer, " it is sufficient to
take a glance at the situation of the United Provinces and
of Europe in general. Civil war would have probably broken
out, and the Arminians, whether they liked it or not, would
have found their natural support in the Catholics, the num-
ber of whom was considerable, and to whom those of their
own faith would have looked for aid. ' In the places where
the Papists are most numerous,' writes the [English] Ambas-
sador, Carleton, 'the Remonstrants have the upper hand, and
the Papists are generally for them.' He adds: 'If the Armin-
ians have no tendency towards papism, as they are suspected
of having, still, if it should happen, as it often does in popular
tumults, that matters should reach the point of invoking
foreign succor, it is easy to see to whom this faction will have
recourse.' The twelve years' truce was just expiring, and
already the partisans of Spain, reckoning on the inevitable
consequences of the growing animosity in the republic, were
rejoicing beforehand in the future which seemed reserved for
this centre of heresy and rebellion."
The heads of the two religious and political parties were in
such hereditary, long-continued, and intimate relations up to
the time when one signed the other's death-warrant, that it
was impossible to write the life of one without also writing
that of the other. For Motley, John of Barneveld is the true
patriot, the martyr, whose cause was that of religious and
political freedom. For him Maurice is the ambitious soldier
who hated his political rival, and never rested until this rival
was brought to the scaffold.
The questions which agitated men's minds two centuries
and a half ago are not dead yet in the country where they
produced such estrangement, violence, and wrong. No stran-
ger could take them up without encountering hostile criticism
from one party or the other. It may be and has been eon-
ceded that Motley writes as a partisan, — a partisan of free-
dom in politics and religion, as he understands freedom.
This ensures him the antagonism of one class of critics. But
these critics are themselves partisans, and themselves open to
the cross-fire of their antagonists. The work of Groen van
Prinsterer is chiefly an examination of Motley's " Life of
Barnevelt " from a special point of view which he himself may
state for us : —
1878.] MEMOIR OP JOHN LOTHP.OP MOTLEY. 461
" People have often pretended to find in my writings the
deplorable influence of an extreme Calvinism. The Puritans
of the seventeenth century are my fellow-religionists. I am
a sectarian and not an historian."
It is plain enough to any impartial reader that there are at
least plausible grounds for this accusation against Motley's
critic. And on a careful examination of the formidable
volume, it becomes obvious that Motley has presented a
view of the events and the personages of the stormy epoch
with which he is dealing, which leaves a battle-ground yet to
be fought over by those who come after him. The dispute is
not and cannot be settled. M. Bakhuizen van den Brink,
chief archivist at the Hague, whose name, according to M.
Groen van Prinsterer, is celebrated enough to need no com-
ment, is quoted by the latter as saying : " The views and
considerations of M. Groen on the history of our country are
not my own, and I doubt if they ever will be. We often
agree, however, in the statement of facts." And M. Fruin,
whose impartiality and erudition M. Groen speaks of in the
strongest terms, says that he also, while agreeing in many
things with M. Groen, looks at history in a very different way.
The end of all religious discussion has come when one of
the parties claims that it is thinking or acting under immedi-
ate Divine guidance. " It is God's affair, and his honor is
touched," says William Lewis to Prince Maurice. Motley's
critic is not less confident in claiming the Almighty as on the
side of his own views. Let him state his own ground of de-
parture : —
" To show the difference, let me rather say the contrast,
between the point of view of Mr. Motley and my own, be-
tween the Unitarian and the Evangelical belief. I am issue
of Calvin, child of the Awakening (reVeil). Faithful to the
device of the Reformers : Justification by faith alone, and the
Word of G-od endures eternally. I consider history from the
point of view of Merle d'Aubigne", Chalmers, Guizot. I desire
to be disciple and witness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus
With the greatest respect for the name of the late vener-
able antiquarian, acknowledging the value of his labors, rec-
ognizing the importance of the papers to which, as he thinks,
Motley has not allowed due consideration, even conceding the
right of one who starts from a dogma claimed to be infallible
to construct history on its basis as plausibly as he can, I can-
not help introducing a few sentences from a recent criticism
on the author whom he places at the head of his guides and
462 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
models. They are to be found in an article in " The Acad-
emy " for July 6, 1878, — a review of the eighth volume of
Merle d'Aubigne"s " History of the Reformation," by the Rev.
"... Such a mistake implies the grossest ignorance of the mere
high-road of history. However, it is not mere ignorance that we com-
plain of. It is rather the narrow-minded prejudices which show them-
selves perpetually, and which are unavoidable from our author's
standpoint. During the half-century which has elapsed since he first
projected his work, he has been absolutely stationary. And the last
volume is exactly in the same style with the first. He has never
unlearned or modified his theory that Scripture and the Papal system
are in all respects contradictory to each other ; and he has been true
to his original purpose of representing the Reformation of the sixteenth
century as a constructive rather than a destructive movement, which
created anew a faith that had actually ceased to exist. Such a theory
fifty years ago would have passed current in England without being
questioned, but will not stand the test of intellectual inquiry in the
present day, when Protestantism of the type of M. d'Aubigne's school
is fast dying out."
If we should say that Mr. Motley's critic has succeeded in
copying some of the faults of the writer whom he took for his
pattern, we should not do him injustice ; what his feelings
must naturally be towards Mr. Motley we may infer from the
following passages: —
" M. Motley is liberal and rationalist.
" He becomes, in attacking the principle of the Reformation, the
passionate opponent of the Puritans and of Maurice, the ardent apolo-
gist of Barnevelt and the Arminians.
" It is understood, and he makes no mystery of it, that he inclines
towards the vague and undecided doctrine of the Unitarians."
What M. Groen's idea of Unitarians is may be gathered
from the statement about them which he gets from a letter
of De Tocqueville : —
" They are pure deists ; they talk about the Bible, because they do
not wish to shock too severely public opinion, which is prevailingly
Christian. They have a service on Sundays, I have been there. At
it they read verses from Dryden or other English poets on the exist-
ence of God and the immortality of the soul. They deliver a discourse
on some point of morality, and all is said."
It is ati hard to contend against " the oligarchy of heaven,"
as Motley calls the Calvinistic party, in argument as it was
formerly to strive with them in arms. " Against the oligar-
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 463
chy of commercial and judicial corporations they stood there
the most terrible aristocracy of all : the aristocracy of God's
elect, predestined from all time and to all eternity to take
precedence of and to look down upon their inferior and lost
fellow-creatures . ' '
To this aristocracy of the New Jerusalem belonged the
party which framed the declaration of the Synod of Dort ; the
party which under the forms of justice committed the " judi-
cial murder " of the great statesman who had served his
country so long and so well. To this chosen body belongs
M. Groen van Prinsterer, and he claims the usual right of
examining in the light of his infallible charter the views
of a " liberal " and " rationalist " writer who goe^ to meeting
on Sunday to hear verses from Dryden. This does not dimin-
ish his claim for a fair reading of the " intimate correspond-
ence," which he considers Motley has not duly taken into
account, and the other letters to be found printed in his some-
what disjointed and fragmentary volume. Every man is born
a Platonist or an Aristotelian, as Schlegel said and Coleridge
repeated, and so in a certain sense every theologian is born
a Gomarite or an Arminian, orthodox or liberal, with a boreal
or austral outlook which determines the lights and shadows
of his moral landscape. For M. Groen van Prinsterer, even
Grotius " was not a Protestant, in the sense of the Reforma-
tion." What he would say of such writers as the learned
Professor Kuenen of Leyden, whose free-talking theology has
recently been made familiar to English readers in translation,
or to his collaborator Professor Oort of Amsterdam, we can
easily guess. What they would say of his views is another
matter. If the learned men of Holland cannot agree among
themselves in the interpretation of the facts of their history,
all of them could not be expected to agree with any outside
historian, especially with one who meets the conditions
accepted by M. Groen van Prinsterer himself, as may be
inferred from these expressions which he borrows approvingly
from M. Fruin :
" To be impartial one must have fixed principles. It is
necessary to belong to a party. It is necessary to have a
point of view as a requisite for the power of investigation."
Motley and his critic had different points of view.
The " intimate correspondence " shows Maurice, the Stad-
holder, as indifferent and lax in internal administration and
as being constantly advised and urged by his relative Count
William of Nassau. Whether its negative evidence can be
considered as neutralizing that which is adduced by Motley to
464 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Doc.
show the Stadholder's hatred of the Advocate may be left to
the reader who has just risen from the account of the mock
trial and the swift execution of the great and venerable
statesman. The formal entry on the Record upon the day of
his "judicial murder " is singularly solemn and impressive : —
" Monday, 13th May, 1619. To-day was executed with the sword
here in the Hague, on a scaffold thereto erected in the Binnenhof
before the steps of the great hall, Mr. John of Barneveld, in his life
Knight, Lord of Berkel, Rodemys, etc., Advocate of Holland and
West Friesland, for reasons expressed in the sentence and otherwise,
with confiscation of his property, after he had served the state thirty-
three: years two months and five days, since 8th March, 1586 ; a man
of great activity, business, memory, and wisdom — yea, extraordinary
in every respect. He that stands let him see that he does not fall."
Most authors write their own biography consciously or
unconsciously. We have seen Mr. Motley portraying much of
himself, his course of life and his future, as he would have had
it, in his first story. In this, his last work, it is impossible
not to read much of his own external and internal personal
history told under other names and with different accessories.
The parallelism often accidentally or intentionally passes into
divergence. He would not have had it too close if he could,
but there are various passages in which it is plain enough
that he is telling his own story.
Motley was a diplomatist, and he writes of other diplo-
matists, and one in particular, with most significant detail.
It need not be supposed that he intends the " arch intriguer "
Aerssens to stand for himself, or that he would have endured
being thought to identify himself with the man of whose
" almost devilish acts " he speaks so' freely. But the saga-
cious reader — and he need not be very sharp-sighted — will
very certainly see something more than a mere historical sig-
nificance in some of the passages which I shall cite for him to
reflect upon: —
" That those ministers [those of the Republic] were second to the
representatives of no other European state in capacity and accomplish-
ment was a fact well known to all who had dealings with them, for the
states required in their diplomatic representatives knowledge of his-
tory and international law, modern languages, and the classics, as well
as familiarity with political customs and social courtesies ; the breed-
ing of gentlemen, in short, and the accomplishments of scholars. . . .
" The envoys of the Republic were rarely dull, but Langerac was a
simpleton. They were renowned for political experience, skill, famil-
iarity with foreign languages, knowledge of literature, history, and
public; law ; but he was ignorant, spoke French very imperfectly, at a
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 465
court where not a human being could address him in his own tongue,
had never been employed in diplomacy or in high office of any kind,
and could carry but small personal weight at a post where of all others
the representative of the great Republic should have commanded
deference both for his own qualities and for the majesty of his
government." . . .
And so of another incompetent, " Marshal de la Chatre, an
honest soldier and fervent Papist, seventy-three years of age,
ignorant of the language, the geography, the politics of the
country to which he was sent, and knowing the road thither
about as well, according to Aerssens, who was requested to
give him a little preliminary instruction, as he did the road
to India." . . .
"Van der Myle, appointed ambassador to Venice, soon
afterwards arrived in Paris, where he made a very favorable
impression, and was highly lauded by Aerssens in his daily
correspondence with Barneveld." He committed a trifling
fault at starting, but this was soon remedied. " No porten-
tous shadows of future and fatal discord between those states-
men [Aerssens and Barneveld] fell upon the cheerful scene."
The story of the troubles of the Ambassador of the United
Provinces at Paris must be given more fully.
" Francis Aerssens . . . continued to be the Dutch ambassador
after the murder of Henry IV. . . . He was beyond doubt one of the
ablest diplomatists in Europe. Versed in many languages, a classical
student, familiar with history and international law, a man of the
world and familiar with its usages, accustomed to associate with dignity
and tact on friendliest terms with sovereigns, eminent statesmen, and
men of letters; endowed with a facile tongue, a fluent pen, and an eye
and ear of singular acuteness and delicacy; distinguished for unflag-'
ging industry and singular aptitude for secret and intricate affairs ; —
he had by the exercise of these various qualities during a period of
nearly twenty years at the court of Henry the Great been able to
render inestimable services to the Republic which he represented.
" He had enjoyed the intimacy and even the confidence of Henry
IV., so far as any man could be said to possess that monarch's confi-
dence, and his friendly relations and familiar access to the king gave
him political advantages superior to those of any of his colleagues at
the same court.
" Acting entirely and faithfully according to the instructions of the
Advocate of Holland, he always gratefully and copiously acknowledged
the privilege of being guided and sustained in the difficult paths he had
to traverse by so powerful and active an intellect. I have seldom
alluded in terms to the instructions and despatches of the chief, but
every position, negotiation, and opinion of the envoy — and the reader
has seen many of them — is pervaded by their spirit. . . .
466 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
" It had become a question whether he was to remain at his post or
return. It was doubtful whether he wished to be relieved of his
embassy or not. The States of Holland voted ' to leave it to his can-
did opinion if in his free conscience he thinks he can serve the public
any longer. If yes, he may keep his office one year more. If no, he
may take leave and come home.' . . .
" Surely the States, under the guidance of the Advocate, had thus
acted with consummate courtesy towards a diplomatist whose position,
from no apparent fault of his own, but by the force of circumstances
— and rather to his credit than otherwise — was gravely compro-
The Queen, Mary de' Medici, had a talk with him, got
angry, " became very red in the face," and wanted to be rid
" Nor was the Envoy at first desirous of remaining. . . . Never-
theless, he yielded reluctantly to Barneveld's request that he should,
for the time at least, remain at his post. Later on, as the intrigues
against him began to unfold themselves, and his faithful services were
made use of at home to blacken his character and procure his removal,
he refused to resign, as to do so would be to play into the hands of
his enemies, and by inference at least to accuse himself of infidelity to
his trust." . . .
" It is no wonder that the Ambassador was galled to the quick by
the outrage which those concerned in the government were seeking to
put upon him. How could an honest man fail to be overwhelmed
with rage and anguish at being dishonored before the world by his
masters for scrupulously doing his duty, and for maintaining the rights
and dignity of his own country ? He knew that the charges were
but pretexts, that the motives of his enemies were as base as the
intrigues themselves, but he also knew that the world usually sides
with the government against the individual, and that a man's reputa-
tion is rarely strong enough to maintain itself unsullied in a foreign
land when his own government stretches forth its hand not to shield,
but to stab him. . . .
" ' I know,' he said, ' that this plot has been woven partly in Holland,
and partly here by good correspondence, in order to drive me from my
post with disreputation. . . .
" ' But as I have discovered this accurately, I have resolved to offer
to my masters the continuance of my very humble service for such
time and under such conditions as they may think good to prescribe.
I prefer forcing my natural and private inclinations to giving an
opportunity for the ministers of this kingdom to discredit us, and to
my enemies to succeed in injuring me, and by fraud and malice to
force me from my post. ... I am truly sorry, being ready to retire,
wishing to have an honorable testimony in recompense of my labors
that one is in such hurry to take advantage of my fall. . . . What
envoy will ever dare to speak with vigor if he is not sustained by the
1878.] MEMOIR OP JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY. 467
government at home? . . . My enemies have misrepresented my
actions, and my language as passionate, exaggerated, mischievous, but
I have no passion except for the service of my superiors. . . . '
" Barneveld, from well-considered motives of public policy, was
favoring his honorable recall. But he allowed a decorous interval of
more than three years to elapse in which to terminate his affairs, and
to take a deliberate departure from that French embassy to which the
Advocate had originally promoted him, and in which there had been
so many years of mutual benefit and confidence between the two
statesmen. He used no underhand means. He did not abuse the
power of the States- General which he wielded to cast him suddenly
and brutally from the distinguished post which he occupied, and so to
attempt to dishonor him before the world. Nothing could be more
respectful and conciliatory than the attitude of the government from
first to last towards this distinguished functionary. The Republic
respected itself too much to deal with honorable agents whose ser-
vices it felt obliged to dispense with as with vulgar malefactors who
had been detected in crime. . . .
" This work aims at being a political study. I would attempt to
exemplify the influence of individual humors and passions — some of
them among the highest and others certainly the basest that agitate
humanity — upon the march of great events, upon general historical
results at certain epochs, and upon the destiny of eminent person-
Here are two suggestive portraits : —
" The Advocate, while acting only in the name of a slender confed-
eracy, was in truth, so long as he held his place, the prime minister of
European Protestantism. There was none other to rival him, few to
comprehend him, fewer still to sustain him. As Prince Maurice was
at that time the great soldier of Protestantism, without clearly scanning
the grandeur of the field in which he was a chief actor, or foreseeing
the vastness of its future, so the Advocate was its statesman and its
prophet. Could the two have worked together as harmoniously as they
had done at an earlier day, it would have been a blessing for the com-
mon weal of Europe. But, alas ! the evil genius of jealousy, which
so often forbids cordial relations between soldier and statesman, already
stood shrouded in the distance, darkly menacing the strenuous patriot,
who was wearing his life out in exertions for what he deemed the true
cause of progress and humanity. . . .
" All history shows that the brilliant soldier of a republic is apt to
have the advantage, in a struggle for popular affection and popular
applause, over the statesman, however consummate. . . . The great
battles and sieges of the Prince had been on a world's theatre, had
enchained the attention of Christendom, and on their issue had fre-
quently depended, or seemed to depend, the very existence of the
nation. The labors of the statesman, on the contrary, had been com-
paratively secret. His noble orations and arguments had been spoken
468 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
with closed doors to assemblies of colleagues — rather envoys than
senators — ... while his vast labors in directing both the internal
administration and especially the foreign affairs of the commonwealth
had been by their very nature as secret as they were perpetual and
The reader must judge for himself whether in these and
similar passages the historian was thinking solely of Maurice,
the great military leader, of Barneveld, the great statesman,
and of Aerssens, the recalled ambassador. He will often
meet with what would now be called " burning questions,"
and recognize in " that visible atmosphere of power the poi-
son of which it is so difficult to resist " a respiratory medium
as well known to the nineteenth as to the seventeenth cen-
On the last day of 1874, the beloved wife, whose health had
for some years been failing, was taken from him by death.
She had been the pride of his happier years, the stay and
solace of those which had so tried his sensitive spirit. The
blow found him already weakened by mental anguish and
bodily infirmity, and he never recovered from it. I have on
a previous occasion spoken at some length of the impression
he produced upon me as I met him after his great affliction,
and I will return to the subject in but few words. Mr. Mot-
ley's last visit to America was in the summer and autumn, of
1875. During several weeks which he passed at Nahatit, I
saw him almost daily. He walked feebly and with some little
difficulty, and complained of a feeling of great weight in the
right arm, which made writing laborious. His handwriting
had noi; betrayed any very obvious change, so far as I had
noticed in his letters. His features and speech were without
any paralytic character. His mind was clear except when, as
on one or two occasions, he complained of some confused feel-
ing, and walked a few minutes in the open air to compose
himself. His thoughts were always tending to revert to the
companion of his life from whom death had parted him a few
months before. Yet he could often be led away to other
topics, and in talking of them could be betrayed into momen-
tary cheerfulness of manner. His long-enduring and all-per-
vading grief was not more a tribute to the virtues and graces
of her whom he mourned than an evidence of the deeply
affectionate riature which in other relations endeared him to
so many whose friendship was a title to love and honor.
I have now the privilege of once more recurring to the
narrative of Motley's daughter, Lady Harcourt : —
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 469
" The harassing work and mental distress of this time [after the
recall from England], acting on an acutely nervous organization, began
the process of undermining his constitution, of which we were so soon
to see the results. It was not the least courageous act of his life,
that, smarting under a fresh wound, tired and unhappy, he set his face
immediately towards the accomplishment of fresh literary labor. After
my sister's marriage in January, he went to the Hague to begin his
researches in the archives for John of Barneveld. The Queen of the
Netherlands had made ready a house for us, and personally superin-
tended every preparation for his reception. We remained there until
the spring, and then removed to a house more immediately in the
town, a charming, old-fashioned mansion, once lived in by John de
Witt, where he had a large library and every domestic comfort during
the year of his sojourn. The incessant literary labor in an enervat-
ing climate with enfeebled health may have prepared the way for the
first break in his constitution, which was to show itself soon after.
There were many compensations in the life about him. He enjoyed
the privilege of constant companionship with one of the warmest hearts
and finest intellects which I have ever known in a woman, — the time
d'elite which has passed beyond this earth. The gracious sentiment
with which the Queen sought to express her sense of what Holland
owed him would have been deeply felt, even had her personal friend-
ship been less dear to us all. From the King, the society of the
Hague, and the diplomatic circle, we had many marks of kindness.
Once or twice I made short journeys with him for change of air to
Amsterdam, to look for the portraits of John of Barneveld and his
wife ; to Bohemia, where, with the lingering hope of occupying himself
with the Thirty Years' War, he looked carefully at the scene of Wal-
lenstein's death near Prague, and later to Varzin in Pomerania, for a
week with Prince Bismarck after the great events of the Franco-
German war. In the autumn of 1872 we moved to England, partly
because it was evident that his health and my mother's required a
change ; partly for private reasons to be near my sister and her chil-
dren. The day after our arrival at Bournemouth occurred the rup-
ture of a vessel on the lungs, without any apparently sufficient cause.
He recovered enough to revise and complete his manuscript, and we
thought him better, when at the end of July, in London, he was struck
down by the first attack of the head, which robbed him of aft after
power of work, although the intellect remained untouched. Sir Wil-
liam Gull sent him to Cannes for the winter, where he was seized with
a violent internal inflammation, in which I suppose there was again
the indication of the lesion of blood-vessels. I am nearing the shadow
now — the time of which I can hardly bear to write. You know the
terrible sorrow which crushed him on the last day of 1874 — the grief
which broke his heart and from which he never rallied. From that
day it seems to me that his life may be summed up in the two words —
patient waiting. Never for one hour did her spirit leave him, and he
strove to follow its leading for the short and evil days left and the
hope of the life beyond. I think I have never watched quietly and
470 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
reverently the traces of one personal character remaining so strongly-
impressed on another nature. With her self-depreciation and unself-
ishness, she would have been the last to believe how much of him was
in her very existence ; nor could we have realized it until the parting
came. ' Henceforward, with the mind still there, but with the ma-
chinery necessary to set it in motion disturbed and shattered, he could
but try to create small occupations with which to fill the hours of a
life which was only valued for his children's sake. Kind and loving
friends in England and America soothed the passage, and our gratitude
for so many gracious acts is deep and true. His love for children,
always a strong feeling, was gratified by the constant presence of my,
sister's babies, the eldest a little girl who bore my mother's name, and
had been her idol, being the companion of many hours and his best
comforter. At the end the blow came swiftly and suddenly, as he
would have wished it. It was a terrible shock to us who had vainly
hoped to keep him a few years longer, but at least he was spared what
he had dreaded with a great dread, a gradual failure of mental or
bodily power. The mind was never clouded, the affections never
weakened, and after a few hours of unconscious physical struggle he
lay at rest, his face beautiful and calm, without a trace of suffering or
illness. Once or twice he said, ' It has come, it has come,' and there
were a few broken words before consciousness fled, but there was little
time for messages or leave-taking. By a strange coincidence, his life
ended near the town of Dorchester, in the mother country, as if the
last hour brought with it a reminiscence of his birthplace, and of his
own dearly loved mother. By his own wish, only the dates of his
birth and death appear upon his gravestone, with the text chosen by
himself, ' In God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.' "
In closing this brief and imperfect record of a life which
merits, and in due time, I trust, will receive an ampler trib-
ute, I cannot refrain from adding a few thoughts which natu-
rally suggest themselves, and some of which may seem quite
unnecessary to the reader who has followed the story of the
historian and diplomatist's brilliant and eventful career.
Motley came of a parentage which promised the gifts of
mind and body very generally to be accounted for, wherever
we find them, by the blood of one or both of the parents.
They gave him special attractions, and laid him open to not a
few temptations. Too many young men born to shine in
social life, to sparkle, it may be, in conversation, perhaps in
the lighter walks of literature, become agreeable idlers, self-
indulgent, frivolous, incapable of large designs or sustained
effort, lose every aspiration and forget every ideal. Our
gilded youth want such examples as this of Motley, not a
solitary, but a conspicuous one, to teach them how much
better is the restlessness of a noble ambition than the narco-
1878.] MEMOIK OF JOHN I,OTHROP MOTLEY. 471
tized stupor of club-life or the vapid amusement of a dressed-
up intercourse which too often requires a questionable flavor
of forbidden license to render it endurable to persons of any
vivacity of character and temperament.
It would seem difficult for a man so flattered from his earli-
est days to be modest in his self-estimate ; but Motley was
never satisfied with himself. He was impulsive, and was
occasionally, I have heard it said, over-excited, when his
prejudices were roughly handled. In all that related to the
questions involved in our civil war, he was, no doubt, very
sensitive. He had heard so much that exasperated him in the
foreign society which he had expected to be fully in sympathy
with the cause of liberty as against slavery, that he might be
excused if he showed impatience when he met with similar
sentiments among his own countrymen. But with all his
quickness of feeling his manners were easy and courteous,
simply because his nature was warm and kindly, and with all
his natural fastidiousness there was nothing of the coxcomb
If he was disappointed in his diplomatic career, he had
enough, and more than enough, to console him in his brilliant
literary triumphs. He had earned them all by the most faith-
ful and patient labor. If he had not the "frame of adamant "
of the Swedish hero, he had his " soul of fire." No labors
could tire him, no difficulties affright him. What most
surprised those who knew him as a young man was, not his
ambition, not his brilliancy, but his dogged, continuous capa-
city for work. We have seen with what astonishment the
old Dutch scholar, Groen van Prinsterer, looked upon a man
who had wrestled with authors like Bor and Van Meteren,
who had grappled with the mightiest folios and toiled undis-
couraged among half-illegible manuscript records. Having
spared no pains in collecting his materials, he told his story,
as we all know, with flowing ease and stirring vitality. His
views may have been more or less partial ; Philip the Second
may have deserved the pitying benevolence of poor Maximil-
ian ; Maurice may have wept as sincerely over the errors of
Arminius as any one of " the crocodile crew that believe in
election ; " Barneveld and Grotius may have been on the road
to Rome: none of these things seem probable, but if they
were all proved true in opposition to his views, we should still
have the long roll of noble tapestry he has woven for us, with
all its life-like portraits, its almost moving pageants, its sieges
where we can see the artillery flashing, its battle-fields with
their smoke and fire, — pictures which cannot fade, and which
472 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
will preserve his own name interwoven with their own en-
Republics are said to be ungrateful ; it might be truer to
say they are forgetful. They forgive those who have wronged
them as easily as they forget those who have done them good
service. But history never forgets and never forgives. To
her decision we may trust the question, whether the great
historian who had stood up for his country nobly and manfully
in the hour of trial, who had reflected honor upon her
throughout the world of letters, was treated as such a citizen
should have been dealt with. His record is safe in her hands,
and his memory will be precious always in the hearts of all
who enjoyed his friendship.
Lady Harcourt has favored me with many interesting par-
ticulars which I could not have learned except from a mem-
ber of his own family. Her description of his way of living
and of working will be best given in her own words : —
" He generally rose early, the hour varying somewhat at different
parts of his life, according to his work and health. Sometimes, when
much absorbed by literary labor, he would rise before seven, often light-
ing his own fire, and with a cup of tea or coffee writing until the
family breakfast hour, after which his work was immediately resumed,
and he usually sat over his writing-table until late in the afternoon,
when he would take a short walk. His dinner hour was late, and he
rarely worked at night. During the early years of his literary studies
he led a 1 ife of great retirement. Later, after the publication of the
Dutch Republic and during the years of official place, he was much
in society in England, Austria, and Holland. He enjoyed social life,
and particularly dining out, keenly, but was very moderate and sim-
ple in all his personal habits, and for many years before his death had
entirely given up smoking. His work, when not in his own library,
was in the Archives of the Netherlands, Brussels, Paris, the English
State Paper Office, and the British Museum, where he made his own
researches, patiently and laboriously consulting original manuscripts
and reading masses of correspondence, from which he afterwards some-
times caused copies to be made, and where he worked for many con-
secutive hours a day. After his material had been thus painfully and
toilfully amassed, the writing of his own story was always done at
home, and his mind, having digested the necessary matter, always
poured itself forth in writing so copiously that his revision was chiefly
devoted to reducing the over-abundance. He never shrank from any
of the drudgery of preparation, but I think his own part of the work
was sheer pleasure to him."
Mr. Motley was buried by the side of his wife in Kensal
Green Cemetery, just outside of London. Services were
1878.] MEMOIR OF JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY. 473
held in the chapel at the cemetery. On the 2d of June a
funeral sermon was preached in Westminster Abbey by Dean
Stanley. The inscriptions on the gravestones are these : —
JOHN LOTHEOP MOTLEY,
BORN AT DORCHESTER, MASS., APRIL 15, 1814.
DIED NEAR DORCHESTER, DORSET, MAT 29, 1877.
In God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
MARY ELIZABETH, WIFE OF JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY,
BORN APRIL 7, 1813.
DIED DECEMBER 81, 1874.
Truth shall make you free.
Mr. Motley leaves three surviving children : —
1. Elizabeth Cabot, married to Sir William George Gran-
ville Vernon Harcourt ; 2. Mary Lothrop, married to Alger-
non Brinsley Sheridan ; 3. Susan Margaret Stackpole Motley.
The following list of the Societies of which Mr. Motley
was a member, and of his honorary titles, is from a memo-
randum in his own handwriting, dated November, 1866 : —
Historical Society of Massachusetts.
,, „ ,, Minnesota.
„ „ ,, New York.
„ ,, ,, Rhode Island.
„ „ „ Maryland.
,, ,, ,, Tennessee.
„ ,, „ New Jersey.
American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
Doctor of Laws, New York University.
,, ,, ,, Harvard ,,
„ „ Literature, New York University.
Royal Society of Antiquaries, England.
Doctor of Laws, Oxford University, England.
,, „ „ Cambridge ,, „
Athenaeum Club, London.
Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences of Amsterdam.
Historical Society of Utrecht, Holland.
,, „ „ Leyden, ,,
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Groningen.
Corresponding Member of French Institute; Academy of Moral and
Academy of Arts and Sciences of Petersburg.
Doctor of Laws, University of Leyden.
Foreign Member of the French Academy of Moral and Political
474 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOBICAL SOCIETY. [Dec.
POETRAITS BY BLACKBURN AND SMIBERT.
Since the lists of portraits by these artists were printed,
Mr. Perkins's attention has been called to the following
pictures : —
Mrs. Elizabeth Savage "Winslow. — This is a small picture,
thirty inches by eighteen, and represents a young girl, standing. She
is dressed in a mauve-pink robe, a color much affected by the artist,
It is in the possession of her descendant, Mr. Arthur Pickering, of
The following pictures are from the brush of Smibert : —
Captain Thomas Shippard. — A three-quarter length, forty-three
inches by thirty-four. He is dressed in a black, square-cut coat, and
breeches, very long light blue vest, with broad scolloped pocket-flaps,
and a voluminous white cravat loosely tied and tucked behind the top
of the vesi:. The sleeves of the coat are very wide, with deep full
cuffs, showing a plaited ruffle reaching to the knuckles. His black
hair is parked at the side and curls below the ears. The right hand
rests upon the hip ; the left holds a spy-glass, one end of which rests
upon a rock. In the background are trees, and a ship tosses on the
waves to the left. This picture was painted about 1750.
Mrs. Thomas Shippard. — She was Mary, the daughter of
Thomas and Deborah (Flint) Lee, and was born Dec. 27, 1718. She
is dressed in a blue gown, cut high behind and low in front, edged with
a lighter shade of the same color. Around the neck is a broad lilac
ribbon tied in a bow above the pointed white stomacher. The sleeves
are turned up at the elbow with a deep cuff, from which falls a long
full plaited ruffle. Her right hand holds carelessly a few flowers ; the
left arm rests upon a marble table, behind which is a tree. The pic-
ture was painted about 1748, and is a three-quarter length, measuring
thirty-four inches by twenty-four.
Patrick Tracy. — This picture, a half-length, is thirty-six inches
by twenty-seven. Mr. Tracy was born near Dublin, Ireland, in 1711.
He married: 1st, Hannah Carter; 2d, Hannah Gookin, whose portrait
1878.] ADDENDA TO PORTRAITS. 475
is described below ; and, 3d, the widow of Tristram Dalton. He died
Feb. 28, 1789. He wears a curled wig, hanging to the shoulder, a
loose cravat tucked behind the vest, a lead-colored coat with wide
cuffs and large ruffles, and a black vest. He is represented seated be-
hind a table, upon which is placed a standish and small candlestick,
pen in hand. The other hand is thrust into the open vest, through
which the shirt-ruffle is seen. The date of the picture is about 1760.
Mrs. Patrick Tract. — The second wife of Mr. Tracy was Han-
nah, daughter of the Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, of Hampton, N. H. She
was born Feb. 7, 1724. She is painted seated in a rocky recess with
a background of landscape with three Lombardy poplars. She holds
a wreath of flowers, which tradition says the artist was forced to
substitute for a baby whose picture he did not succeed in drawing.
She wears a brown silk dress, cut in a point at the neck, with elbow
sleeves and embroidered ruffles. Her black hair is drawn away from
the forehead and hangs in long curls down her neck. This picture is
a half-length, and measures thirty-six inches by twenty-seven. It was
painted about 1754.
These four portraits are owned by Colonel Henry Lee, of Boston.
Edward Winslow. — He is represented, in this half-length por-
trait, dressed in a red coat and full white wig. He was Sheriff of
Suffolk County, and father of Mrs. Richard Clarke, whose daughter
became the wife of John Singleton Copley.
In a letter written from New Haven, Sept. 15, 1812, by
William Lyon to the Rev. Dr. Eliot, Corresponding Secretary
of this Society, some mention is made of Smibert. Colonel
Lyon, after other anecdotes, says: " Smibert came to America
in 1728, in the same ship with Dean Berkeley. About thirty
years ago, I saw in Boston a large sheet of his painting : the
principal figure was the Dean in his canonicals, and bis fellow-
passengers in the cabin standing round him. I think this
piece a desideratum for your Society. I cannot tell at what
house' I saw it." It would be interesting to discover this