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1882.] JUNE MEETING. 825
JUNE MEETING, 1882.
The stated meeting was held on Thursday, the 8th instant,
in the rooms on Tremont Street, at 3 o'clock P. M. ; the senior
Vice-President in the chair.
The Recording Secretary read the record of the previous
meeting, and it was accepted.
The Librarian presented the monthly list of donors to the
Library. The gifts included copies of Dr. Ellis's new vol-
ume, "The Red Man and the White Man in North America,"
and of an English edition of Colonel Higginson's " Common
Sense about Women." Dr. Green himself had given a man-
uscript book containing the list of a company of minute-men
recruited by Captain Thomas Poor, Jr., in Andover, in
February, 1775, the first contribution of that town to the
The Corresponding Secretary reported that Admiral Preble
and Mr. C. H. Hill had accepted their elections as Resident
The Vice-President then announced the death of a Cor-
responding Member, as follows : —
The ocean cable has informed us of the death in London
on Sunday, the 28th of May last, of Colonel Joseph Lemuel
Chester, LL.D. and D.C.L., one of our Corresponding Mem-
* The list in this small book differs somewhat from the lists of Captain Poor's
company printed in Miss Bailey's "Historical Slcetches of Andover," at pp. 297,
298, and 320, 321. The John Farrington and John Johnson of her lists appear here
respectively as Jrs. : the name she prints as Jonathan Roljerson is here plainly
written Robinson (the man's own signature in a good hand is attached to a
receipt for pay) ; and this list contains the names of Jacob Osgood, Samuel
Linsey, George Abbot, Dudley Messer, Samuel Fowls, Joshua Wood, Stephen
Long, IJavid Howe, and Frederick Frye, in addition to those on Miss Bailey's
earlier list. Some of these names appear, however, on her second list.
The company was formed February 2, and appears to have met for drill a
half-day twice a week until April 19, when the captain makes this entry : " sat
out from home in order to meet the regular troops that were gone to Concord,
and marched to Billerica, and so on to Bedford. Then heard that they were
gone back. We turned our course and proceeded to Cambridge that night, and
took our abode therein; and my expense for the company was 14/ lawful
After a blank page follow receipts signed (.July 7-11) by various officers of
the regiment (Frye's, of which Captain Poor had been commissioned major, June
8), for different numbers of coats to replace those lost by their men In the late
battle upon "buncar's hill." The book ends with an earlier receipt (May 6,
Cambridge) for one dollar each for " training," signed by many of the men wf
the company. — Eds.
326 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAIi SOCIETY. [JcNE,
bers, personally known to many of ns by intercourse, corre-
spondence, and the performance of friendly services. He was
born in Norwich, Connecticut, April 30, 1821. Having begun
the study of law in New York, he left it for mercantile pur-
suits in that city and Philadelphia. He was connected with the
newspaper press for several years, and was the author in this
country of several well-received publications in verse and
prose. He established himself in London for business pur-
poses in 1858. His tastes led him to devote himself to histori-
cal, genealogical, and biographical studies, in which he has
done noble work and won rare distinction. Dean Stanley,
in his " Historical Memorials of "Westminster Abbey," refer-
ring to Dr. Chester's publication in 1876 of his laborious Reg-
isters of the Abbey, speaks of him as " a distinguished
antiquarian of the United States, who, with a diligence which
spared no labor, and a disinterestedness which spared no
expenditure, has at his own cost edited and illustrated, with
a copious accuracy which leaves nothing to be desired,
the legisters of the baptisms, marriages, and burials in the
Dr. Chester is best known here through two others of his
productions, namely, his keenly pursued investigations into
tiie ancestry of Washington, his publication of the results of
which opened sharp discussion and controversy, not, however,
discrediting the positions he had taken ; second, his marvel-
lously well-wrought "Life of John Rogers," the proto-martyr
in Queen Mary's reign. Dr. Chester was one of the numer-
ous lineage of the first of our Rogerses, — the Rev. Nathaniel
Rogers of Ipswich, son of the Puritan, John Rogers, of Ded-
ham, Englaiad. It has been a pleasant tradition here for a
hundred years that this John Rogers was of direct descent
from the martyr. Dr. Chester's searching investigations
wholly invalidate this tradition, and compel those who prided
themselves in it to yield it as untenable. The disputed point
as to whether the martyr had nine children or ten, is settled
by the evidence that he had eleven. Dr. Chester's degree of
LL.D. came from Columbia College, New York; that of
D.C.L. from Oxford.
Dr. Ellis continued : —
By the kind invitation and hospitality of our Corresponding
Members, Professor William Gammell and the Hon. J. R.
Bartlett, Mr. Deane and myself had a day of rare enjoyment
yesterday in a visit to the beautiful city of Providence, and in
1882.] KBMAEKS BY DE. GEOEGE E. ELLIS. 327
an inspection of that sumptuous depository of precious liter-
ary treasures, the Cartei-Brown Library. After a drive on
that glorious summer morning, a glance through the admi-
rable arrangements of the new college library, with its well-
appreciated curator, Mr. Guild, and the library of the Rhode
Island Historical Society, under Mr. Perry, our kind host
drove us to the charming summit of Prospect Hill to take in
the scene of industry, thrift, and beauty, over the Black-
stone valley. I could not but think how exceedingly un-
reasonable it was for Roger Williams, Hutchinson, Gorton,
Coddington, Easton, and others of the " exorbitant and un-
savory heretics " of our early years, to complain that they
were invited to take themselves out of Massachusetts, as
"unmeet" for citizens, when they found such refuges as
Providence, Warwick Neck, all the shores of Narragansett
Bay, the island of Aquidneck, and especially its Newport, to
which the most privileged of the wealthy and fashionable are
now drawn every summer, doubtless to honor the memory of
the early settlers. Certainly those first comers, who always
cast backward glances to our jurisdiction, and were with diffi-
culty kept from straying into it again, found and have left a
most fair heritage.
Our chief errand took us to the stately mansion, in a sepa-
rate attachment to which, carefully guarded from fire and
damp, is deposited the library of the late John Carter Brown.
By the generous provisions of his representatives it is kept up
under its admirable arrangements, with means for its increase
and perfecting, in conformity with its original design and its
unique composition. Our members here need not to be told
that it finds the best qualified and accomplished of all bib-
liographers and watchful curators and skilled interpreters
in Mr. Bartlett. We have on our shelves his exceedingly
valuable and elaborate catalogue of the libraiy. He has an
additional volume for speedy publication.
" Americana " is the fitting and expressive title by which
the collection, in its specialty, is known. The rarity, the
completeness, the perfection, and the sumptuousness of that
rich array of relics from the ancient presses of the world,
their disposal upon shelves and in cabinets, the lavish outla}^
and yet the pure, fine taste of their adornment, strike the
observer at the first glance. Its zealous and generous collec-
tor did not allow himself to keep any account of the vast
sums of money spent upon the little leaflets of some of the
tracts, or the gorgeous quartos and folios on the shelves,
so that our provincial curiosity as to cost will never be grati-
328 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOBICAL SOCIETY. [June,
fied. It is enough to drop this single statement, namely, that
there are in the collection over nine thousand five hundred
volumes, and that single ones among them, according to their
actual purchase price by Mr. Brown, and the estimate of their
value by kindred collectors, each represent a' sum which would
secure the same number of books for a useful miscellaneous
library for town or city. There, and there only, are to be
found unique, or nearly unique, specimens of most curious
relics of the press, antedating, or contemporaneous with, the
first lookings across the ocean towards this veiled continent ;
the precious letters of Columbus; and then a continuous suc-
cession of the ventures of the early navigators. There is a
magnificent and most complete collection of the folios of De
Bry in various languages, with their fine, sharp-cut engrav-
ings, in clear type, on honest linen paper, elegantly clothed
and inscribed. There are the original Hakluyts and Pur-
chases. There are the Ptolemies, in one of which is the first
attempt on a map of an engraved configuration of this New
World, as yet without any other name ; and also Camers's
Solinus, a map in which, as has been believed, unless a
recent claim is established, for the first time attaches to it
its present name. There are the treasured originals of the
printed narratives and journals of the first voyagers, explor-
ers, and colonists whose eyes were greeted with the first view
of these marvels and mysteries, and whose narrations in
detail and style are in harmony with these novelties and as-
pects. There is an almost complete series of the originals
of the Jesuit " Relations," which, more than two centuries
ago, were of such absorbing interest to devout readers in
France, revealing the zeal and heroism of missionaries in the
depths of our wildernesses. Efforts and expense hardly
measurable have been given to the repairing of defective
leaves, the restoring of a map or chart, the producing in fac-
simile a missing title or page, and the combining of fragments
into a perfect whole, of many of these relics. And when the
collection, for the completeness of its " Americana," gives
place to volumes of less rarity, something of sumptuousness
or elegance distinguishes them. One might sit at ease in that
storied and monumental library and retrace with quaint and
picturesque rehearsals, and in the company of doughty roam-
ers and heroes by sea and land, the incidents of the days and
months, the years and the centuries, which have made the his-
tory of our continent. And the especial dignity and distinc-
tion of that collection is the generous freedom with which it
is put at the service of those who can wisely use it. Arthur
1882.] EEMAKKS BY ME. WILLIAM S. APPLETON. 329
Helps, in one of his volumes, pays a graceful return to the
courteous confidence of Mr. Brown in sending to him for
desired consultation a unique volume across the ocean by
A brief extract from a letter which I have recently received
from our President, Mr. Winthrop, dated in Paris, May 17,
will have interest here : " Last Sunday morning I had a
great treat at St. Margaret's, London, where the window in
memory of Sir Walter Raleigh, which our Society, at my sug-
gestion, led off in subscribing for, was unveiled. A beautiful
window it is, — the large west window of the old Parliamen-
tary church, with full-length figures of Queen Elizabeth,
Raleigh, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Lowell wrote the in-
scription for it in verse. The sermon by Canon Farrar was
admirable, full of kind feeling to America, and every way
worthy of the window, of Raleigh, and of himself." Mr. Win-
throp refers to the delight he had found in reading in the
"Advertiser" the extracts from the last volume of Judge
Sewall's journal, with its most amusing account of the court-
ship of Madam Winthrop. He says ; " Nothing in Pepj'-s or
Evelyn can exceed that record." He and another Madam
Winthrop had a hearty laugh over it.
Mr. W. S. Appleton spoke of Colonel Chester as fol-
lows : —
With your leave, Mr. President, I will say a few words in
addition to your own in recognition of the labors and accom-
plishments of Colonel Chester in the study of genealogy and
family history. He was, by general consent, at the head of
his profession, the highest authority in his chosen pursuit.
We all know what many workers have done in this country,
and what a few, well represented by our late member, Mr.
Horatio G. Somerby, have done in England; but Colonel
Chester carried this study to a completeness and perfection
never before attempted. If one wishes to see the result of
thorough, patient research, joined with admirable judgment
and close reasoning, let him read carefully the English por-
tions of the Went worth and Hutchinson Genealogies. The
superb volume on the Taylor family, presented to our Li-
brary by the author, Peter A. Taylor, Esq., M. P., owes
the perfection of its family record largely to the searches
of Colonel Chester. The recognition of English readers and
critics was more especially gained by the publication of the
330 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOKICAL SOCIETY. [JuKE,
Eegisters of Westminster Abbey, edited by Colonel Ches-
ter for the Harleian Society, — a marvellous labor of love
and enthusiasm. Of that Society he was one of the founders,
and always a member of the council; and for it he edited
several volumes, one of whicii is still in the press. He leaves
in manuscript a full copy of the matriculations of Oxford
University, which he hoped to edit and print at some time.
His labors were thought worth}' of the degree of D.C.L. of
the same university ; and I remember his showing me his
copy of Queen Victoria's " Life in the Highlands," or some
other work, sent by herself, with her autograph, Victoria
R. et I.
I met Colonel Chester first in 1866, and have never stayed in
London since without renewing the acquaintance. His readi-
ness to open his boxes of manuscripts to fellow-students was
delightful, and often very helpful. His collections were so
carefully indexed that to one asking what he had about any
name or family he could give an immediate answer, and I have
been indebted to him for more than one item of will, or entry
of marriage or death, which he had copied from some parish
register, where I should never have thought of seeking it.
Next to Doctors' Commons and the British Museum, his
room must have been the best place in England to trace a
genealogy, as he had a library of manuscript copies of old
records of all kinds.
He was elected a Corresponding Member of this Society in
February, 1873, and, after the famous historians who have
graced our roll, I think that no name has been more worthily
placed there than that of Joseph Lemuel Chester.
The Rev. Edwabd G. Pokteb said : —
Mr. President, — I can heartily confirm what has been said
in honor of Colonel Chester. It was my good fortune to
make his acquaintance in London about three years ago. He
invited me to his house in Southwark Park Road, Bermond-
sey, where he had collected a private library of the most
unique and valuable description. It consisted not so much of
books as of manuscripts — copies of wills, deeds, letters,
papers, epitaphs, &c. — which he had obtained, with much
care and at great expense, during his residence of over
twenty years in England.
Beginning with his researches in preparation for his elabo-
rate work upon John Rogers, Colonel Chester entered upon a
field of genealogical inquiry, especially in the range of Anglo-
1882.] EEMAEKS BY REV. EDWARD G. POBTEB. 331
Americana, Avhich he cultivated with unfailing assiduity and
with ever-increasing success.
In quest of original material he visited all parts of the
kingdom, examining parish registers, ancient wills, and all
other sources of possible information that were open to him.
In this way he accumulated a mass of documentary evi-
dence, hitherto unknown, bearing upon his chosen work.
I do not know what disposition is to be made of these liter-
ary treasures, but it is to be hoped that they will be carefully
preserved and made available for some worthy successor in
this important department of historical research. One could
Avish that they might be deposited with the British Museum.
Colonel Cliester's writings have always been characterized
by a strict regard for historic truth. He never gave a tradi-
tion or a theory for a fact, but applied the sifting process most
rigidly ; and many a time he has parted with the most cher-
ished traditions and theories rather than do violence to the
evident trend of his newly discovered truth.
For this fidelity and devotion he was highly honored in
England, and, year by year, his reputation increased among
scholars and antiquaries. He was one of the founders of
the Harleian Society, to whose proceedings he contributed
many valuable papers.
He was also an active member of the Royal Historical So-
ciety, and of many other similar organizations in different
parts of England and of the United States.
The results of his investigations frequently appeared in
the columns of the prominent literary and archaeological
journals. He was also a recognized authority at the College
of Heraldry. His great work on the Abbey Registers se-
cured for him not onl}' the high commendation of Dean
Stanley, but also a present from the Queen, accompanied by
an autograph letter, — a token of appreciation which was
most gratifying to the deserving author.*
It is not without a feeling of patriotic pride that I call at-
tention thus to the eminent services of one of our fellow-coun-
trymen, who, though living abroad so long, has reflected high
honor upon American literary ability and zeal, and secured
for American history, in its English connections, a vast
amount of new light, which will be highly prized by all future
students of the subject.
• The Dean and Chapter of Westminster have announced their intention of
placing in the Abbey a memorial tablet to Colonel Cliester, in recognition of his
services in preparing and annotating the Westminster Abbey Registers.
832 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [June,
Colonel Chester* received the degree of LL.D. in 1877
from Columbia College, and in 1881 that of D.C.L. from the
University of Oxford.
Mr. Geokge B. Chase spoke as follows : —
I did not come here to-day, Sir, with the intention of adding
any thing to the just words that were to be said upon the
character and attainments of Colonel Chester. But if my
correspondence with him was too brief to permit me to speak
of his personal qualities, I would not fail to remember that I
was often indebted to him in past years for information
always generously accorded on my behalf to others. I am,
too, painfully aware that his death leaves a great place
vacant, which none of us can hope soon to see filled. It
is not, I think, too much to say of the work Colonel Ches-
ter accomplished that if, within the period of his long resi-
dence in England, the attempts to trace the early history of
the founders of these colonies, their genealogies and antece-
dent circumstances, the counties from which they came, and
the very homes which they left, have grown from the uncer-
tain and desultory efforts of isolated New Engltinders into a
recognized branch of historical research, it was in a large
measure due to the admirable result of his investigations, and
to the unfailing aid he was ever ready to extend to other gen-
Numerous lines of family research must for a time remain
unfinished with his death ; for he was the last of three suc-
cessful antiquaries who, for a period of thirty years, were
employed by American genealogists. Of these, tlie late Mi-.
Somerby was the first to establish himself in London as a
professional antiquary. On Jiis death, in 1872, the late Mr.
Wm. Henry Turner of Bodley's Library succeeded to a por-
tion of his unfinished work. I am glad to mention his
name to-day, for he was a warm friend and admirer of
Chester, and his story is an interesting one. He was
born in Oxford, as he told me, and placed in his boyhood
in a chemist's shop. Here he first showed his taste for an-
tiquities. Rising in his employer's favor, as his pay in-
ci'eased he began to collect old documents. Industrious,
and gifted with an extraordinary memory, he succeeded in
* An engraved portrait of Colonel Chester may be seen in an early number
of " Godey's Ladies' Book," under the name of " Our Musical Editor, Julian
1882.] LETTER FEOM WILLIAM H. ■WHITMOEB. 833
forming such a collection of manuscripts, principally relating
to the county of Oxford, that the attention of Bodley's
Librarian was drawn to him. His collections were bought
for the Library, and he was himself appointed upon its staff.
He compiled the " Calender of Charters and Rolls preserved
in the Bodleian Library," and edited the Harleian Society's
volume " Oxfordshire." He continued in the Bodleian till
his comparatively early death, June 30, 1880, at the age of
fifty-two. Such was liis capacity for labor that he was able
to accept engagements for genealogical research, which he
diligently pursued in odd hours and upon holidays. He was
careful and painstaking in his work, and a very honest,
worthy, and lovable man. Like Mr. Somerby, he left no col-
lection of value to American genealogists.
Colonel Chester was the first to do so. No man before him
had been so systematic or so thorough, nor had any other
genealogist accumulated such splendid results. I have heard
his library described by Englishmen, who applauded the accu-
racy and extent of his records. No one, I have been told,
who saw it could forget it. There is nothing to-day to com-
pare with it. To students of history his collections are of
that peculiar and lasting importance which attaches to manu-
scripts which, if lost, cannot be replaced, and whose value
increases as the age recedes to which they refer. Such a
collection should be presei-ved intact. It should belong to
his countrymen. Its place is here.
The Vice-Pkesident announced, from the Council, that
that board recommended the Society to dispense with the
stated meetings for July and August ; and it was voted to dis-
pense with these meetings, authority being reserved, however,
for the Chairman and Secretary to call a special meeting
at any time during these months if one should be deemed
An application from Messrs. A. Williams & Co., of Bos-
ton, for permission to print, in handsome form, in a separate
volume, the proceedings of the Society in reference to the
deaths of Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Emerson was willingly
The following letter from Mr. William H. Whitmore, ad-
dressed to the Chairman of the Standing Committee, was
read : —
City Hall, June 6, :
Gentlemen, — As you probably know, the City of Boston has
ordered the restoration of the legislative halls in the Old State House.
834 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [June,
The formal opening will be early in July, and it is intended to make
special exertion to have the rooms in good order on that day. The
State will lend us some pictures and other mementos of the past. I ven-
ture to ask your body to lend us a few articles especially appropriate.
I would instance the Speaker's desk, the King's arms (in wood), the
Indian vane from the Province House, and the portraits of such of the
governors as ruled in the old building.
I would suggest that you instruct the Chairman of the Council to
loan such articles as I have named, and any similar ones, to be in-
trusted to the City, and properly receipted for by it.
I remain, in behalf of the City Committee in charge,
Yours very truly,
Wm. H. Whitmoee.
Agreeablj' to the recommendation of the Council, it was
Voted, To refer this application to a committee, consisting of
the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council (Mr.
Lodge), the Cabinet-keeper, and the Librarian, with full
powers as to the articles to be lent and the duration of the
Dr. S. A. Green and Mr. C. C. Smith, having signified their
wish to be relieved from further service on the committee to
publish the Proceedings, were excused ; and the Vice-Presi-
dent appointed Mr. J. P. Quincy and Mr. H. E. Scudder as
members of that committee, the Recording Secretary being
ex officio its chairman.
On motion of Mr. Deane, the thanks of the Society were
voted to Messrs. Green and Smith for their long and valuable
services as members of the publishing committee.*
The thanks of the Society were also voted to the Rev. Mr.
Porter for the kind and acceptable manner in which he had
served as Recording Secretary ^ro tempore during Mr. Dexter's
Mr. R. C. WlNTHROP, Jr., gave some good reasons why the
Society should excuse him from the Memoir of the Hon.
John C. Gray, which he had been appointed to prepare ; and,
on his suggestion, that duty was assigned to Mr. John C.
The appointment of a member to prepare a Memoir of
Mr. Emerson was postponed until the next meeting.
• Dr. Green was appointed on this committee in December, 1865, and Mr. Smith
in July, 1868. Their retirement at this time, although not unexpected (as they
continued after the Annual Meeting only to await the return of the Recording
Secretary from the South;, was reluctantly agreed to by that oflaeer and by
the Society. — Ed8.
1882.] MEMOIRS COMMUNICATED. 335
Colonel Henry Lbe presented copies of Whitefield's
" Homes of our Forefathers," and Tolman's " 12 Sketches of
Old Boston Buildings," and remarked that both these books
possessed considerable interest and value, and the latter had
also some artistic merit.
Mr. C. C. Smith announced that the new volume of the
Winthrop Papers was nearly through the press, and that
it would be ready for distribution among members some time
during the summer vacation.
He communicated also Memoirs of Dr. Thomas H. Webb,
by Mr. Quincy, and Mr. George S. Hillard, by General Palfrey.
These memoirs follow the record of this meeting.
Remarks on various topics were made by Messrs. Ames,
Lee, T. C. Amory, Deane, and Paige ; and the Society ad-
journed until September.
336 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOKICAL SOCIETY. [June,
THOMAS HOPKINS WEBB, M.D.
BT J. P. QUINCY.
Dr. Webb, the son of Thomas Smith and Martha (Hopkins)
Webb, was born in Providence, Sept. 21, 1801. His father
was one of the founders, as well as the first president, of the
Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, an association which
initiated and has greatly promoted the musical cultivation of
the city. The subject of this sketch was fitted for college by
Daniel Staniford of Boston, and entered Brown University in
1817. Among his classmates were Dr. S. G. Howe and Dr.
Amos Binney, and young Webb soon found that he shaved
those tastes of the latter gentleman which impelled him to
the pursuit of natural science. After graduating came the
study of medicine with Dr. John Mackie, of Providence, and
a degree from the Harvard Medical School, taken in 1825.
It was the scientific research connected with the profession
of his adoption, rather than the details of its practice, which
interested the young doctor. For a period of nearly ten
years, during which his sign was to be seen in the city of
Providence, Dr. Webb's most zealous services seem to have
been given to the Franklin Society. This was an association
for the cultivation of science, to the proceedings of which he
was a constant contributor. But his special studies in chem-
istry and geology did not prevent incursions into the domains
of history and archaeology, and he became an active officer of
the Rhode Island Historical Society. As secretary of this
body Dr. Webb conducted the correspondence with Professor
Charles C. Rafn, of the Royal Society of Northern Antiqua-
ries, respecting the " Dighton writing rock" and other alleged
Scandinavian inscriptions of kindred interest. His letters are
preserved in the memoirs of his own Society as well as in that
ponderous quarto, the "Antiquitates Americanse," published
at Copenhagen in 1837.
1882.] MEMOEB OF DK. THOMAS H. -WEBB. 837
Dr. Webb was one of the projectors and founders of the
Providence Athenaeum, at present the largest library in Rhode
Island. Hon. John R. Bartlett and the Rev. Dr. F. A. Far-
ley, his associates in this good enterprise, are yet living to
testify to the value of his services. He became the first
librarian of the institution of which he was so largely the
creator, and held the editorial chair of the Providence " Jour-
nal " during a period of three years.
A subsequent removal to Boston led Dr. Webb to connect
himself with the publishing house of Marsh, Capen, & Lyon,
which was engaged in the publication of works relating to
popular education, as well as of that stimulating periodical,
the "Common School Journal" under the editorship of Hor-
ace Mann. Financial and family troubles, unnecessary to
particularize, followed hard upon this new occupation ; they
gave Dr. Webb that experience of the tests and trials of life
which it is probably not wholesome altogether to escape.
In 1850 Mr. Bartlett, the Government Commissioner for
running and marking the boundary line between the United
States and Mexico, appointed his old friend secretary of the
Commission ; and a most efficient officer he proved to be,
adding to the full work of his position the collecting of
zoological and mineralogical specimens to illustrate his favor-
In the struggle to repel slavery from the soil of Kansas,
Dr. Webb was a hearty participant. As secretary of the
Emigrant Aid Society he visited the Territory and organized
many companies of settlers. His little guide-book for emi-
grants was a modest but efficient factor in repelling aggres-
sions which sought to nationalize the Southern institution.
Dr. Webb's latest services were given to the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, of which he was the secretary and
principal executive officer. His exertions largely contributed
to the success of the institution in popularizing scientific edu-
cation. This was a work upon which his heart had always
been set, and to its accomplishment the energies of the closing
years of life were worthily devoted.
Dr. Webb was married in 1833 to Lydia Athearn of Nan-
tucket. He died Aug. 2, 1866, leaving no children.
The surviving friends of Dr. Webb speak with respect of
his manly character, and testify to his earnest work in causes
which penetrated him. He was the associate and helper of
men whose names are better known than his own. To say
the truth, I find that the sixteen years which have elapsed
since his death have somewhat blurred his personality even
338 MASSACHirSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [June,
to eyes that are in search of it. But posthumous fame, and
the biographical parasites which feed upon it, are easily dis-
pensed with by any man who has a right to feel that his
patient, unobtrusive labors have tended to lift society to a
1882.] MEMOIB OF HON. GEOEGE S. HILLAED. 389
HON. GEORGE STILLMAN HILLARD, LL.D.
BY FRANCIS W. PALFBEY.
Geoegb Stillman Htllaed was born at Machias, Maine,
Sept. 22, 1808, and died at Longwood, Massachusetts, Jan.
21, 1879. He was the son of John Hillard, by his wife Sarah,
who was the daughter of George Stillman, of Machias, brig-
adier-general commanding the second brigade of the tenth
division of the militia of Massachusetts at the close of the
eighteenth century. He passed two years of his boyhood at
Lebanon, Connecticut, as a pupil of the Eev. Zebulon Ely,
and he was afterward at the Derby Academy, at Hingham, of
which the Rev. Daniel Kimball was the principal. In 1822,
1823, and 1824 he was at the Boston Latin School, where in
both 1823 and 1824 he won the Lloyd gold medal. In 1824 he
entered the Freshman class at Harvard College, and in 1828
he graduated there with the first honors. Among his class-
mates were Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, Chief Justice Gilchrist,
and the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop.
After leaving college, he studied law at Northampton, and
at the same time acted as a teacher in the same town, at the
Round Hill School, so called, of which Mr. George Bancroft
was then the principal. He then studied law at the Dane Law
School in Cambridge, and received the degree of LL.B. from
the university there in 1832. The year before he had taken
the degree of Master of Arts at Cambridge, and on the
occasion of doing so had delivered an Address upon the Dan-
gers to which the Minds of young men in .our Country are
After leaving the law school at Cambridge, he entered the
office of the late Charles Pelham Curtis, in Boston, and was
admitted to practice in April of the following year.
Soon after his admission to the bar, he became an editor
of the " Christian Register." In 1834 he took a law office with
340 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAI. SOCIETY. [June,
his friend Charles Sumner, at 4 Court Street, Boston, and be-
came the editor of the " Jurist." He continued to practise law
at No. 4 Court Street for more than twenty years.-
In 1835 he was elected a member of the Massachusetts
House of Representatives, and in the same year he married
Miss Susan Tracy, daughter of Judge Samuel Howe, of
In 1844 he helped to found the Boston Latin School Asso-
In 1845, and again in 1846 and 1847, he was elected a
member of the Common Council of the city of Boston.
He represented old Ward 6. In 1846 and 1847 he was Presi-
dent of the Council, and held that office till July of the latter
year, when he resigned it on going to Europe. This visit to
Europe led to the composition of his " Six Months in Italy,"
which was well received in America, and republished in
In 1850 he became a member of the Senate of Massachu-
setts, and in 1863 of the "Constitutional Convention."
His course in the Senate of Massachusetts received high
praise from Daniel Webster, as may be read at page 856 of
vol. V. of Webster's Works. In 1853 or the following
year, his " Letters of Silas Standfast to his friend Jotham "
were printed. They may now be found in the volume of
Discussions on the Constitution proposed to the People of
Massachusetts by the Convention of 1853.
In December, 1853, he was chosen City Solicitor of the
city of Boston, and he held that office till August, 1855,
when another was elected in his place, through the pre-
dominance which the Know Nothing party, so called, then
In 1856 he removed his law office from No. 4 Court Street to
Niles's Block, in School Street, and on that occasion he wrote
the well-known " Farewell to No. 4," which was printed in
the March number of the " Law Reporter " of that year. It is
understood that at some time in the spring of 1857 he became
an owner and chief editor of the Boston " Courier," and
that his connection with that paper continued until April 23,
In the autumn of 1866 he was appointed United States
Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. He entered upon
the duties of that office on the twenty-second day of October,
1866, and ceased to perform them on the second of January,
1871, when his successor took the oath of office. He then
formed a partnership for the practice of the law with Messrs.
1882.] MEMOIR OF HON. GEORGE S. HILLARD. 311
Henry D. Hyde and M. F. Dickinson, Jr., under the name
of Hillard, Hyde, and Dickinson.
He was a Trustee of the Boston Public Library from April
11, 1872, to Nov. 23, 1876.
In 1835 he delivered the Fourth of July oration before
the authorities of the city of Boston ; in 1843, before the
Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College, an oration
upon the Relation of the Poet to his Age ; in August,
1845, before the American Institute of Instruction at Hart-
ford, a lecture upon the Connection between Geography
and History, which was published in 1846 ; in November,
1850, before the Mercantile Library Association of Boston,
an address upon the Dangers and Duties of the Mercantile
Profession ; on the 22d of December, 1851, before the New
England Society in the city of New York, a discourse on the
Spirit of the Pilgrims ; in 1852, before the authorities of the
city of Boston, an Eulogy upon Daniel Webster ; in 1860,
an address before the Norfolk County Agricultural Society ;
in 1866, before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Amherst Col-
lege, an oration upon the Political Duties of the Educated
From the year 1831, when he published in the "North Ameri-
can Review " an article upon " Clarence, a Tale," to January,
1864, when his last contribution to that periodical, a review
of Ticknor's Life of Prescott, was printed in it, he wrote for
it with moderate frequency, his papers numbering twenty
three in all, and treating of a great variety of subjects, — biog-
raphy, oratory, courses of study, law, poetry, education,
romance, history, and divinity. He also wrote for Bucking-
ham's " New England Magazine " a series of Literary Por-
traits, " Selections from the Papers of an Idler," &c. ; for the
New American Cyclopaedia, biographical sketches of Edward
Everett and Rufus Choate ; and for the " Christian Examiner,"
articles on various subjects. A paper of his on the " Life and
Adventures of Captain John Smith" was published in the
second volume of Sparks's American Biography in 1834.
In 1839 he published an edition of the Poetical Works of
Edmund Spenser, which was pronounced by Mr. George Tick-
nor to be " the best edition yet known." In 1840 he published
a translation of Guizot's Essay on Washington. On the 26th
of October, 1843, he became a member of the Massachusetts
Historical Society, and to their Proceedings he contributed
Memoirs of Joseph Story, President Felton, and James Sav-
age. In 1844 his Memoir of Henry R. Cleveland was pri-
vately printed. In 1847 he delivered before the Lowell
342 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCrBTY. [JuKE,
Institute in Boston a course of twelve lectures upon the
character and writings of John Milton. In 1856 he began
the publication of "Hillard's Readers," which were ex-
tremely well received, and which, it is said, were used in
Brazil. In the same year he publislied " Selections from the
Writings of Walter Savage Landor," and printed for private
distribution his Memoir of James Brown. In 1857 Trinity
College, of Hartford, Connecticut, conferred upon him the
degree of Doctor of Laws. In 1864 he published a life of
General McClellan, then the Democratic candidate for the
office of President of the United States. In 1866 he contrib-
uted a Memoir of Colonel Fletcher Webster to the " Harvard
Memorial Biographies." In 1873 his Memoir of Jeremiah
Mason was privately printed. In the last years of his life he
began the preparation of a book to be called " The Life and
Letters of George Ticknor," but he did not live to complete
it. He had a severe stroke of paralysis in 1873, and though
he rallied from it sufficiently to have a good share of the en-
joyment of life, he never recovered from it entirely. He
removed to a pleasant house in Long wood, near Boston, and
there, on the 14th of January, 1879, he had a second stroke,
after which his life was prolonged only one week.
It is proper to call Mr. Hillard a lawyer, because he fol-
lowed the profession of the law for the period of forty years,
and did not abandon it till he was disabled by disease. He
attained a highly respectable position at the bar, but he was
more distinguished as a public speaker than as a lawyer. He
was also a very good scholar ; but it was as a man of let-
ters and a conversationist that he was really eminent. He
was too conscientious to neglect his law business, and too sen-
sible, capable, and diligent to fail to be of service to his
clients ; but the tastes and accomplishments which made him
the noteworthy man he was, were hindrances rather than
helps to him as a counsellor and an advocate. Business came
to him all his life, but much of it undoubtedly came from
those who were rather attracted by the man than impressed
by the lawyer. His name does not appear in a reported case
for some ten years after his admission to practice, and not so
often as once a year for the next sixteen years. The hard
work of the profession, the laborious, thorough preparation
without which even genius is not effective, were not only
not to his taste, but they were almost impossible to such a
man. He said in the Memoir of Mr. Savage which he pre-
pared for this Society, "The law demands from its votaries an
exclusive devotion, and this he was never prepared to give."
1882.] MEMOm 0¥ HON. GEORGE S. HILLAED. 343
Mutato nomine fahula de te, &c. The thought is familiar,
but it is incomplete and inadequate as applied to Mr. Hillard.
He was not only not prepared to give this devotion, but he
was not permitted to give it. The charm of his society was
such that his office was not only frequented by men of talent
and accomplishment, but positively burdened by those who
came simply to hear him, and who brought no gifts ; and his
disposition was so yielding and so kind that he let the idlers
and listeners linger as long as they would. When he found
himself in the actual presence of the Court, his faculties
seemed to be quickened by the situation, and he was alert and
ready ; and sometimes, in the argument of a doubtful and im-
portant case, his whole nature was aroused, and he became
earnest, eloquent, and intense. He had many of the higher
qualities of the advocate. He would probably have been a
better lawyer if he had been a less attractive man, but it
would have required a sterner nature than his to resist the
fascination which books and cultivated society possessed for
He was a true and ardent lover of books. He would take
a handsome volume in his hands and almost fondle it, and his
love of reading was a strong and lasting passion. His mem-
ory was retentive and ready, and his taste was delicate, while
his humor was abundant. These qualities, and the acquire-
ments which they led to his making, made his conversation
delightful. His health was never robust, and his affairs by
no means always prosperous, but his kindliness and cheerful-
ness and geniality were very great, and when, with his
quaint smile lighting up his face, he was bringing forth out of
his treasure things new and old, his companionship was
charming to the last point. He was not rapid of speech, nor
crisp, nor terse. He was not epigrammatic nor given to repar-
tee. Still less was he a maker of puns. He did not give
sententious utterance to weighty thought. His talk was
fluent and easy, and habitually infused with a gentle cheer-
fulness. It was made singularly rich and varied by his ready
and felicitous use of the ample material with which his ex-
tensive reading supplied him, though he was not much given
to literal quotation. It was rather his habit to weave into the
language he employed apt words and phrases which had
struck his fancy, and to assimilate and reproduce illustrations
gathered from the wide field of English literature. Thus it
was necessary that one should be a belles-lettres scholar of
more than common accomplishment to determine, as his
speech flowed gently on, what was original with him, and
844 MASSACHtrSBTTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY, [JuNB,
what was transplanted, — the more so that he employed none
of the arts of the professional conversationist to draw atten-
tion to the fact that he was going to say something worth
the hearing. No flourish of trumpets, in voice or manner,
demanded silence for the coming utterance. He would say
simply and naturally that you must get at Browning's poetry
as you dig a grave in frosty weather, — with a pickaxe ; or that
Catholicism in this country is no more like Catholicism in
Europe than a domestic cat is like a Bengal tiger ; and pass
on with the genial current of his talk with no more than
a pause for a smile at the neatness of his own expression,
and of kindly recognition of the pleasure with which he saw
it greeted. Bread-winning at the bar was not the employ-
ment for such a man as he. He was more fitted to shine in
and carry forward a cultivated society, than to mingle in the
stern struggles of the court, or to concentrate his faculties
upon the abstruse and colorless problems of the consulting
room. For the full development of a nature such as his,
and of the tastes and accomplishments which belonged to his
nature as does the shadow to the substance, his lot in life
should have been different and more benignant. He should
have had more health, more leisure, and more means.
He was the opposite of a robust man, physically. His face
and figure revealed the absence of warm blood and firm
flesh. His peculiar walk showed his want of masculine vigor.
Though he was seldom if ever a prey to painful or dangerous
maladies, he was a frequent sufferer from severe and most
annoying colds. His way of life was ordinarily extremely
simple, though he had a keen enjoyment of the purple side of
life. He returned once from a visit to Newport, in a state
of the highest pleasiirable excitement, describing it as an
earthly paradise, in which no one had less than a million.
With such a body, such a mind, such tastes, and such a posi-
tion in life as his were, one would have been prepared to see
him constantly displaying nervous irritability; and it was most
creditable to him, and most indicative of the extreme kindli-
ness and gentleness of his nature, that such exhibitions were
He had but one child, a boy, bom in the year 1836, and
whom he had the misfortime to lose at the early age of two
and a half years.
It may be a question whether a memoir of a man who has
achieved a certain distinction as an orator should not give in
some detail the measure and kind and justice of that distinc-
tion ; but in the case of a citizen of the United States, a land
1883.] MEMOIR OP GEOKGB S. HILIjAED. 345
where men who speak well in public are common, and men
who speak extremely well are not rare, it would seem to be the
better opinion that nothing but really exceptional eminence
would require more than such brief mention as has already
been made of the occasions upon which Mr. Hillard addressed
large aiidiences, and the subjects upon which he spoke. His
orations and addresses belonged to the class to which the term
" occasional " applies. They were the finished expression of
the thought of a cultivated man of letters, and not the utter-
ances of a man who spoke because he could not keep silent.
He never filled a high office, and he never was prominent as
a politician. Indeed, in the period which preceded the war of
secession, he drifted away from the general course of public
sentiment. This was partly owing to a great loyalty to the
old Whig party, and partly to the influence of certain social
ties. It was at this time that he became a proprietor and
chief editor of the Boston "Courier," but he severed his con-
nection with it in 1861. The enterprise brought to him little
but disappointment and annoyance.
Those who knew Mr. Hillard well, look back upon his life
with affectionate regret. He was very kind and very charm-
ing, but he was not in his right place in life. He had many of
the gifts and accomplishments of Charles Lamb, but he was
not so much the superior of Lamb in prosperity as he was in
character. He was a long way from being one of those on
whom lavish Fortune emptied all her horn. He had not
strength enough, health enough, means enough, or success
enough. He was an ornament to the society of the town in
which he lived, and his death left a gap which it was not and
is not easy to fill.
We are happy to enrich this Memoir by the addition of the
following lines by our Corresponding Member, Mr. William
W. Story: —
346 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Junb,
GEOEGE STILLMAN HILLARD.
One other link that held me to the past
Hath snapped asunder. I have seen the last
Of that kind face that ever turned to me
A smile of friendship and benignity.
We ne'er shall know those pleasant days again
When we two wandered far in the demesne
Of the ideal world, and waved our wings
In the free air of youth's imaginings.
Glad hours they were, when we the crabbed book
Of legal study laid aside, and took
Long rambles through the sunny lands of song,
And talked of poets and the writers strong
That raftered our grand English with their prose.
Or the gi-eat artists in the past that rose
Like constellations, and securely shine
Beyond aE envy in their fame divine.
Tou in these silent regions were my guide,
And I, content and happy at your side.
Listened and learned and followed where you led,
Fired by the eloquent, high words you said.
Through the Elysian dream-land of the dead.
Ah! golden time of early morning light.
When life before us from youth's happy height
Showed grand and fair, with far-off sunny gleams
Of glancing hopes and slopes of blissful dreams
And radiant tints that Love and Feeling lent
To the dim distance where our thoughts were bent.
All was before us then, all was surprise;
There was a sweetness even in our sighs, —
They were but longings for the joy to be,
The fine impatience of futurity.
Not the heart-broken murmur of regret
For what was lost, for glories that had set.
As back my memory wanders, in my ear
Still sounds that voice of yours so high and clear,
With its fine, ringing tones, and cultured phrase.
That charmed and cheered me in those early days ;
That slender, stooping form again I trace ;
That open brow, that scholarly pale face ;
Those nervous movements of a spirit fine
Treading with critic care the thought-spuu line.
1882.] MEMOIR OP GEOEGE S. HILLARD. 347
Again I seem to scent the faint perfume
That used to haunt that private inner room
Where at niy desk I sat and wrote and read
With wandering thoughts and idly dreaming head, —
The odor of the books, the office dust,
The dry peculiar legal smell of must ;
The casual flower that lent a subtle grace.
As of another world, unto the place ;
The sunshine sifting veiled and silent through
The filmy panes ; the bustling fly that flew
And droned and drummed ; the scratching of the pen ;
The rustling papers turning now and then ;
The voices coming with a murmurous hum
From friends and clients out of Sumner's room.
That drew me from my books, and his full voice
Manly and strong, that made the heart rejoice ;
Oft too, your kindly word, your gentle srnile.
As laying down your pen you would beguile
Some bright half-hour with ready, fluent talk,
And to and fro across the office walk.
There too, at times, my Father's sunlit face
Looked in and filled with radiance all the place,
And cleared the air, and passing, left behind
A sense of flowers and music on the wind.
There Choate, with his gaunt face and clustering hair.
Waved like a scimitar his humor rare.
There Felton, glad and buoyant, oft was seen.
There Longfellow, accomplished and serene,
There Whiitier's flne-cut face and piercing glance.
Or Motley, with his air of high romance,
Or eager Bancroft, with his accents high,
Or quiet Hawthorne, sensitive and shy.
There learned Lieber oft for hours would sit,
Or Holmes flash in, electric, charged with wit,
Or Appleton, the very bulls-eye hit
With random-seeming arrows from his bow.
Or Spanish Ticknor or Hellenic Howe.
And then at intervals, with cliff-like brow
And caverned eyes, the black and thunderous face
Of Webster gloomed and gleamed, or Prescott's grace
A genial charm around the chamber threw,
Or Lowell, with his lam'els budding new
Mid sunny curls, life's triumphs just begun.
Or the poised calm of Attic Emerson.
There Garrison's bland face at times was seen,
And fiery Phillips, Gray with courteous mien,
Dexter's bronzed face, dark curls and sunken eyes,
And all the Lorings, all the Curtises,
And once the lambent eyes, the hallowed head,
Of AlUton, by an inner dreamlight fed.
There stately Quincy, Greenleaf, rich in lore
Of law, determined Adams, and a score
Of other faces we shall see no more
Gathering together met in converse free, —
A learned, rare, and brilliant company.
348 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [June,
'T was mine to listen with an eager sense
To all their learning, wit, and eloquence ;
Mine but to gather up the rich largess
They squandered with such prodigal excess.
This is but faint mirage of vanished things
That taunting memory from the distance brings;
In that glad group that then drew joyous breath
Alas ! how many a cruel gap of death !
What lips are hushed, through which the poignant jest,
The winged thought, leaped living from the breast 1
What eyes are dim that lightened then with life !
What voices hushed ! What spirits from the strife,
The joy, the sunshine of the world are fled
To join the unnumbered legions of the dead,
Gone, where Hope only follows, while Despair
Half closes the dark doors that open there;
Gone, leaving memory here and there a gleam
Faint as a picture painted in a dream.
Oh, what a ruin! Sad, so sad, and yet
Calm in the tender shadow of regret.
Life with its losses and its vanished hopes
A Colosseum seems of broken slopes,
Through whose dread gaps of ruin many a ghost
Wanders and whispers of the glories lost;
Where, dim and far as in a dream, we hear
The exultant fremitus, the ringing cheer.
The tumult and the joy, the clash, the groan.
Then in an instant find ourselves alone, —
Only the wild weeds growing in each cleft.
Only the silence of the present left,
Only the sighing of the wind's soft breath,
Only the solitude and void of death.
Of our small group of three whose hours were passed
Working within those rooms, I am the last ;
Sumner has gone, and you are taken now.
When last we met, dark Death a sidelong blow
Had struck at you with almost fatal aim,
And life had loosed its hold and hope of fame;
But sweet and calm slipped on the lingering day
In still content till you were called away.
It was a twilight peaceful, if not bright,
That heralded the silence of the night
With happy memories of a golden prime.
With thoughts that forward went beyond all Time.
Farewell ! dear friend. If hope be not all vain.
Somewhere, God help us, we shall meet again
In those ideal regions where so oft
With our vague longings we have soared aloft.
I do but come to throw upon your grave
These scentless flowers, the only ones I have.
W. W. Story.