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240 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. .Oct.
OCTOBER MEETING, 1880.
The regular monthly meeting of the Society was held on
Thursday, October 14, at 3 o'clock, P.m., in the Dowse Li-
brary ; the Rev. Dr. George E. Ellis, one of the Vice-
Presidents, in the chair.
In the absence of the Recording Secretary, the Treasurer,
Mr. Charles C. Smith, was appointed Secretary pro tern.
The record of the last meeting was read and accepted.
The Librarian communicated a list of the accessions to the
Library during the last month, calling especial attention to
the work of an Associate Member, Mr. Charles Eliot Norton,
on " Church Building in the Middle Ages."
A letter was read from the Hon. Zachariah Allen, of Provi-
dence, Rhode Island, accepting his election as a Correspond-
ing Member. The Chairman then communicated a letter
from Mr. Dexter, tendering his resignation of the office of
Recording Secretary, as follows: —
Cambridge, 1 Oct., 1880.
The Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, LL.D.,
President Mass. Historical Society.
My dear Sir, — It is with great regret that I find myself obliged
to ask you to communicate to the next meeting of the Council my
resignation of the office of Recording Secretary. But my health has
become uncertain, and my physician tells me that I cannot expect to
go to Boston, or to attend to business of any kind, for some months
As I cannot perform the duties of the office, I must necessarily
resign it. I do so with regret, for I have appreciated the honor of
the position, and enjoyed the pleasant duties of the office.
I am, with great respect, sincerely yours,
After remarks by the Hon. Amos A. Lawrence, the fol-
lowing Resolutions presented by the Council were unani-
mously adopted : —
Resolved, That the members of the Massachusetts Histor-
ical Society have heard with much regret the letter of George
Dexter, Esq., tendering his resignation of the office of Record-
ing Secretary on account of ill health, and that they recall
with great satisfaction the learning, fidelity, and good judg-
ment with which he has discharged its duties.
1880.] REMARKS BY REV. DR. ELLIS. 241
Resolved, That Mr. Dexter's resignation be not accepted,
and that the Corresponding Secretary be requested to com-
municate to him the best wishes of the Society for his early
and entire restoration to health.
Dr. Theodor Mommsen, of Berlin, was elected an Honorary
On motion of Dr. Green, Mr. Bradford Kingman, of
Brookline, was allowed to copy, under the rules, certain mem-
oranda of local interest in the diary of the late Rev. John
Pierce, D.D., to be used by Mr. Kingman in the preparation
of a History of Brookline.
An application was received from Mrs. Charles T. Jackson
for permission to deposit with the Society the medals and
decorations which had belonged to her husband, and which
had been given to him on account of the introduction of
etherization in surgery; and the application was granted on the
same conditions on which the Society had accepted a similar
deposit of the medals and decorations which belonged to the
late Dr. W. T. G. Morton.
Dr. Ellis then spoke as follows : —
It is but rarely that our honored President, when he has
been on this side of the ocean, during the quarter of a cen-
tury of his occupancy of this chair, has failed to meet us
punctually here, and to open, animate, and instruct our meet-
ings, from his own full resources of mind, of family papers,
and of correspondence. Indeed, he has so seldom left the
chair to his substitutes, that they have had no opportunity to
practise or to familiarize themselves with its duties. In a
letter which I received from him last week, he wrote that his
obligations, as a delegate to the Episcopal Convention now
assembled in New York, would preclude his being with us to-
day. It is for me mainly to engage you. for a few moments
in following out two or three suggestions made by him in his
Mr. Winthrop intimates that some allusion may properly
be made on our records to the success of the recent celebra-
tion of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our city,
in which the Society was so courteously invited to take a part.
It was, indeed, a most successful and delightful occasion.
The propitious sky, the pleasant atmosphere, the neatness in
aspect and the holiday garb of the city ; the guests from over
the whole country and from Canada, summoned by a generous
hospitality; the admirable and vigorous address of His Honor
242 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOBICAL SOCIETY. [Oct.
the Mayor, reviewing, in a masterly and attractive sketch, the
planting and development of this ancient municipality ; the
splendid military display ; the representation of large bodies
of organized associations and citizens ; the imposing parade
of the actual handicrafts, mechanism, tools, engines, and in-
genious processes, setting forth the industries, the thrift, the
economies, and the amazing achievements of our time in
every thing characteristic of this place and our age; and then
the vast, uncounted throngs of delighted spectators, on side-
walk, platform, balcony, roof, and window-sitting, — all these
elements of a civic celebration on the grandest scale, marked
by the most perfect order in combination and hilarity, and
happily involving no harm to life or limb in the exposure and
movement of such multitudes of men, women, and children,
may well be gratefully entered on all records that are to reach
future times. Our Society did not avail itself of the offered
privilege of appearing together in a body, but was well repre-
sented by its members, as individuals appeared in their
assigned places as special guests in recognition of their other
relations to the national government, the State or the city.
As was most fitting, the one only quadriga which appeared
in the cavalcade, after the escort, bore the chief magistrate
of the city and our President, the representative in continu-
ity of life, in flesh and blood, of the revered founder of the
town and State, whose statue in bronze was unveiled on that
day, a long-deferred tribute to his pre-eminent claims to our
veneration and gratitude.
Happily this Society is not called upon to express, much
less to put on record, any opinion or judgment as to the ideal-
ity or the execution of that work of art, the tenth of the
bronze statues now standing in the city. It must bear the
brunt of criticism, as its predecessors have done, without weak-
ening at the knees or changing countenance. A ready reply
offers itself to each of us as we listen to the critic. We may
ask, " How ought the statue to look ? What should it be ? "
Governor Winthrop is not a good subject for bronze or for
metal of any kind. It is safe to say that the living man was
better in mien and make and character than any effigies can
present him. This cannot be said of all those who are com-
memorated on canvas, in stone or bronze. The monumental
memorials, in figure and in structure, of all simple, primitive,
and worthy men and times are always rude, and without the
finish of ideal art, while the most beautiful statues and tem-
ples of Greece and Rome were perfected at the very time
when all faith in the beings they represented had died out of
1880.] REMARKS BY REV. DR. ELLIS. 243
Our President would also remind us, for recognition on our
records, that the twenty-fifth day of this month will complete
the centennial year of the adoption of the Constitution of
Massachusetts. No further action or motion of ours in refer-
ence to that day, beyond this recognition, need be taken.
As cities, towns, and various associations, scientific, literary,
religious, social, charitable, and commercial, take in hand
their own special anniversaries and centennials, so it is for
our State authorities, according to their inclination or judg-
ment, to note the coming of that day or the occasion which
gave it its mark. Doubtless it will not have passed without
at least a backward reference to it bj our next Legislature.
This would but renew our oft-repeated tribute to John Adams,
James Bowdoin, and a few others, whose wisdom, patriotism,
and love of free institutions secured by wholesome laws, are
embodied in our Constitution.
It will be remembered that at our meeting last June, our
attention was called to a suggestion from Canon Farrar, of
St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, that our own and other
of our Historical Societies might be interested in contributing
towards a proposed memorial window in that venerable sanc-
tuary to the renowned Sir Walter Raleigh, who is there buried.
In a letter which I have recently received from Canon Farrar
he expresses his grateful appreciation of our first response to
his happy suggestion. He says that a sum between £500 and
£600 will accomplish the desired result. '
Subscriptions to this date from the Society, £50; at large,
£190 ; in all from the country, £240.
A courteous invitation was sent to the officers of this Soci-
ety by the Maryland Historical Society, that we might be
represented with it in the part they were to take in the cele-
bration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the city
of Baltimore. Gladly would I have availed myself of the
invitation had my engagements admitted, and I could only
make a grateful recognition of the courtesy. I do not know
whether this Society had any representation on the occasion.
But we have certainly followed with hearty interest the
accounts in the journals of the exultant throngs, the demon-
strative pageants, the popular enthusiasm, and the historic
retrospects- of the glad observance. Our kindred society
must derive much inspiration and much new material from
Dr. Green called attention to an advertisement and two
woodcuts of Windsor chairs in the " Massachusetts Gazette "
244 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Oct.
of Sept. 7, 1787 ; considerable interest having been expressed,
at previous meetings of the Society, in regard to the origin
of the name.
The Rev. Dr. James Freeman Clarke then offered the
following Resolution : —
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed by the
President, of which the President shall be chairman, to con-
sider and report to this Society some plan of using the names
of the streets in Boston to preserve the memory of historic
characters and events.
The Resolution elicited interesting remarks by Dr. Clarke,
Dr. Ellis, Mr. Sibley, Dr. Green, Mr. T. C. Amory, Mr. Ever-
ett, Dr. Paige, and Mr. G. B. Chase, and was then adopted ;
and the Hon. R. C. Winthrop, the Rev. Dr. Clarke, and Dr.
William Everett were named as the Committee.
Mr. Ellis Ames spoke of an unpublished autobiography
of Cotton Mather, formerly in the possession of the late Rev.
Dr. William Jenks, and now owned by a gentleman in New
York, and stated that a descendant of Cotton Mather had
intermarried with a descendant of the Rev. George Bur-
roughs, one of the victims of the witchcraft delusion. He
also referred to the well-known opinions of a former President
of the Society, the late Hon. James Savage, as to the credi-
bility of any statement which rested on the unsupported
authority of Cotton Mather.