Skip to main content

Full text of "Lucius Robinson Paige, D. D. Born March 8, 1802"

See other formats

F 74 

CI H8 
Copy 1 


BORN MARCH 8, 1802. 

^ mXcmoi-ial f lictdi, 

Rkpbintkd from the Procekdings of the American Antiquarian 
Society, at the October Meeting, 1896. 










Lucius Robinson Paige, D.D., died at his resi- 
dence in Cambridge, Mas.sacliusetts, on the afternoon of 
September 2, 1896, in the ninety-fifth year of his age. 

He was horn in Hardwitk, ^Massachusetts, on the 8th of 
March, 1802, and was the youngest of the nine children of 
Timothy and Mary (Robinson) Paige of that town. His 
grandfather. Colonel Timothy Paige, was active in the war 
of the Revolution as a member of the " Committee of 
Correspondence" and as an officer of the militia. From the 
♦'History of Hardwick" we learn that he led his com- 
pany to Bennington, at the alarm in August, 1777, and to 
West Point in 1780 ; that on the organization of the militia 
after the adoption of the Constitution, he was commissioqed 
Colonel, which office he held during the remainder of his 
life ; that he was a strenuous supporter of the government, 
and rendered service in the suppression of the Shays 

Mr. Paige's father, although but eighteen years old at 
the time of the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington, Con- 
cord and Cambridge, in April, 1775, joined the "Minute 
Men" and marched with them to Cambridge. In his 
maturer years, the sufiVagcs of his fellow-citizens placed 
and retained him in positions of responsibility during the 
greater part of his life. He was a representative in the 
General Court for seventeen consecutive years, and a dele- 
gate to the Convention for revising the State Constitution 
in 1820. On his decease, the leading newspapers spoke 

of him as an ** undeviating patriot," and "universally 
esteemed for his intelligence and unbending integrity.'' 
Other members of the family and their connections by 
marriage, were among the most respected and useful citi- 
zens of Hardwick. Of this number were Brig. -Gen. 
Timothy Ruggles, and Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Warner. 

The American ancestry of Mr. Paige includes, in the 
paternal line, Elder William Brewster and Governor 
Thomas Prence of the Plymouth Colony ; in the maternal 
line, Governor Thomas Dudley of the Massachusetts Col- 
ony. Many of his ancestors attained remarkable longevity. 

Mr. Paige was educated in the common schools of 
Hardwick, and at Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Mass. 
Having determined, after much reflection, to enter the 
ministry of the Universalist denomination, he placed 
himself in 1823 under the direction and instruction of the 
Reverend Hosea Ballou of Boston. His first sermon was 
preached in Charlestown, June 1, 1823. His first pastorate 
was in Springfield, Mass. There hi^ arduous labors, both 
by voice and pen, resulted in a marked increase of his 
denomination in that town and its vicinity. His second 
pastorate was in that part of Gloucester now known as 
Rockport. In 1832, Mr. Paige was called to the Church 
in Cambridge, and there also he gained a high reputation as 
an able preacher and zealous pastor. Through ftiilure of 
health in 1839, he was compelled to relinquish this pastoral 
charge, with the warning that he had but a short time to 
live. He preached occasionally, however, during the next 
ensuing thirty j'ears. 

In the early years of his ministry, Mr. Paige was a 
frequent contributor to the religious press. In 1830 he 
reprinted from the Religious Enquirer^ of Hartford, Conn., 
his polemical paper entitled " Universalism Defended." 
Soon afterwards he published his " Selections from Eminent 

Commentators " (Boston, 1833). This work passed through 
several editions, and was favorably received beyond the 
pale of his own denomination. In 1835 he began in the 
Trumpet, of which for some time he was an assistant 
editor, a series of *' Notes on the Scriptures," and these 
contributions were continued for several years. 

Mr. Paige held the office of town clerk of Cambridge 
from March, 1839, to January, 1840, and again from 
March, 1843, to May, 1846. From May, 1846, to Octo- 
ber, 1855, he was the city clerk, and from 1842 to 1847, 
one of the assessors of taxes. He helped to organize the 
Cambridgeport Savings Bank, was its Treasurer from 1855 
to 1871, and at his death was its Vice-President and one of 
its Directors. Of the Cambridgeport Bank (now a National 
Bank), he was the Cashier for about seven years, its Presi- 
dent three years, and one of its Directors from 1857 until 
his decease. 

In adition to these secular labors, Mr. Paige devoted his 
evenings to the preparation of his "Commentary on the 
New Testament." The first of the six volumes was pub- 
lished in 1844; the last, in 1870. This work has been the 
standard Commentary in his denomination, and is still in 

In the year 1850, in recognition of Mr. Paige's acquire- 
ments and literary labors, Harvard College conferred upon 
him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. 

Amidst his many engagements and studies, he found 
time also to prosecute historical and genealogical investi- 
gations. In 1838 he delivered the historical discourse at 
the centennial commemoration of the incorporation of 
Hardwick. He had then begun a systematic collection of 
materials for a history of that town, but this work was 
not completed until after the lapse of forty years. While 
holding the office of clerk of Cambridge, Mr. Paige became 

deeply interested in the history of that ancient town ; and at 
the suggestion of a member of this Society, the late Gov- 
ernor Emory Washburn, he made a careful exploration of 
the records in his custody, supplementing this research by 
a thorough examination of the records of the old parishes, 
the records and files of the Courts, and the State archives 
in Boston. The "History of Cambridge" was published 
in 1877, and the " History of Hardwick" in 1883. Be- 
sides the historical narrative, each of these volumes contains 
a very full and carefully compiled " Genealogical Register" 
of the early settlers and their descendants. These volumes 
are, in the most essential respects, models of what a town 
history should be. They contain the most important 
information obtainable from the sources then open to the 
author, and this is presented in a clear and concise narra- 
tive. By his habit of careful research, his perfect honesty 
and freedom from prejudice, Mr. Paige was well fitted for 
this task. In the estimation of those most competent to pass 
judgment, these volumes are authorities. But they are 
something more than authorities. They not only instruct; 
they inspire. Their educational value was happily set 
forth by President Eliot of Harvard University in his re- 
cent address to the assembled school-children of Cam- 
bridge. "I trust," he said, "that all of you study 
faithfully Paige's History of Cambridge. Nobody deserves 
the privilege of growing up in this city who does not make 
himself familiar with that book. It is an epitome of the 
history, not only of this town, but of a good many other 
Puritan towns. It fills this place with memories of by-gone 
scenes and deeds which were precious to the people of those 
times, and are precious still to us, their descendants or 

Mr. Paige was prominently connected with the Masonic 
fraternity. He became a mason in 1824, and was Master 

of Lodges in Hardwick and Cambridge, successively. In 
1826, he was elected an Eminent Commander of Knights 
Temphirs. In the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, he held 
the office of Grand Steward in 1849-50, of Grand Deacon 
in 1851, and of Deputy Grand Master in 1852, 1853 and 
1854. This last appointment made him a member ad 
vitam of the Grand Body, — a relation which he cherished 
with much pleasure. In 1861, he became a member of the 
Supreme Council ; was its Secretary two years, and Secre- 
tary of State three years. He had for many years been 
the representative of the Supreme Council of Belgium 
in the Supreme Council 33° of the Northern Masonic 
Jurisdiction of the United States. At his decease, he 
was the oldest Past Commander of Knights Templars in 
the jurisdiction of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and 
the oldest member of the Grand Lodge. 

Mr. Paige was one of the Representatives of Cambridge 
in the General Court in 1878 and 1879. 

He became a member of the Board of Trustees of Tufts 
College in 1860, and was its Secretary from 1862 to 1876. 
Previous to becoming a Trustee, he served on committees 
for laying the foundations of this institution and arranging 
its curriculum of studies. At the time of his death, he was 
the senior Trustee, not only in years, but in length of 
service. He received from this Colleije in 1861 the honor- 
ary degree of Doctor of Divinity, and the dormitory of its 
Divinity School is named in his honor — " Paige Hall." 
His gifts to the College during his life amounted to five 
thousand dollars. He bequeathed to it two thousand dol- 
lars, to establish a scholarship. He also bequeathed to the 
town of Hardwick his library and the sum of ten thousand 
dollars towards the foundation of a Public Library, on cer- 
tain conditions — failing which, his library is bequeathed to 
the "Ladies' Free Library Association" of Hardwick, and 

the ten thousand dollars is to become the property of the 
Trustees of Tufts College. 

Dr. Paige was elected a member of this Society, October 
21, 1878. He became a member of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society in 1844, of the New-England Historic 
Genealogical Society — being its first elected member — in 
1845, an honorary member of the Worcester Society of 
Antiquity in 1876, and of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in 
1877. He was, also, a corresponding member of other 
historical societies. 

He was married four times. His first wife was Clarinda, 
daughter of Ezekiel Richardson of Brookfield. She died 
in 1833. His second wife, Abby R., daughter of Joseph 
Whittemore of Charlestown, died in 1843. Lucy, his 
third wife, was a daughter of Barnabas Comins of Charlton, 
and widow of Solomon Richardson of Brookfield. She 
died in 1864. He had five children, all of whom have 
deceased. His fourth wife, who survives him at the age of 
ninety, was the widow of the Hon. David T. Brigham of 
Keokuk, Iowa, daughter of Robert M. Peck, and grand- 
daughter of the Hon. Joseph Allen of Worcester. She is 
also a grandniece of Samuel Adams, the Revolutionary 
leader and patriot. 

The later years of Dr. Paige's life were passed in com- 
parative retirement ; but he was never idle. He continued 
to be actively interested in the several fraternal societies of 
which he was a member, and in the. religious and educa- 
tional institutions of his denomination. Respected and 
trusted by his fellow-citizens of every religious body and 
of all political parties, his counsel and cooperation were 
sought in the eftbrts made, happily with a large degree of 
success, to promote the good government and general 
welfare of Cambridge. For many years he was regular in 
his attendance at the meetings of the historical societies. 

For the last four or five years his attendance was necessarily 
less frequent. His communications whenever present, and 
his letters when he was compelled to be absent, gave, even 
to the last, no indication of decay in his mental powers. 
His large correspondence, his reading of historical and 
kindred books, and unfailing interest in public events, 
furnished ami)le employment for his mind. He knew 
what was transpiring in foreign lands and in the world 
about him, and he also knew the chief contents of the 
monthlies and quarterlies. Surrounded by his carefully 
selected library, and by pieces of furniture and other relics 
that had descended to him from his ancestors, he read — 
read without glasses — and made copious notes, to the end 
of life. 

Those who knew Dr. Paige only as a citizen, with his 
quiet, digniticd and refnicd manners and gentle spirit, were 
in a large measure strangers to his reserved force, his 
capacity for concentrated thought, and the deep and strong 
currents of his emotional nature. To those who were 
honored with his intimate friendship in his own home, 
when the doors were shut and the curtains drawn, he 
disclosed his abounding humor, the warmth and generosity 
of his heart, the sweetness, purity, and elevation of his 
nature. He also gave evidence, in his unpretentious way, 
of the fulness and accuracy of his knowledge of history, 
both ancient and modern, and his extraordinary memory. 
He seemed to have forgotten nothing that he had read or 
witnessed. His conversation was enlivened by a great 
fund of illustrative reminiscences ; but he was always a 
gentleman and dealt kindly with the reputations of his con- 
temporaries and of the dead. He abhorred that habit which 
reveals itself in the repetition of scandal, and in efforts to 
excite mirth over the weaknesses and eccentricities of other 
men. Of such "reminiscences" Dr. Paige could not be 


the author or the disseminator. Nor was this reserve the 
dictate of mere prudence. We might rather apply to 
him the remark made by Paul de Remusat concerning 
M. Thiers, and say that this reserve was not an " incident 
of his life," but "was a trait of his character." 

Born and bred among a people who were separated from 
the Puritan epoch more by a long interval of years than 
by any substantial difference in spirit or in principles, 
Dr. Paige inherited their quick and clear apprehension of 
truth and justice, their unswerving loyalty to whatever 
they regarded as the imperative demand of duty. But 
his Puritanism was ameliorated by warm sympathies for 
his fellow-men, a tolerant disposition, and a serene faith in 
the infinite love of his Divine Master. 

He was conservative in respect to established principles 
in the sphere of politics and government, and in the sphere 
of ethics and conduct. At the same time, he was unaf- 
fectedly hospitable to every real advance in science and 
Christian philosophy, as he was, likewise, to every rational 
efibrt for reform in civil and in social life. 

Looking back over his long life, he took delight in 
noting the upward progress of the race. He believed in 
the "Brotherhood of Man," and saw with joy every step 
gained towards the conciliation of the nations. 

In his nearer view, he looked for the best results from 
the average man. He saw how, under the cooperating 
influences of wise laws and good government, of peaceful 
and useful industries, of the culture that comes from the 
schools and the wide diffusion of the products of the prmt- 
ing-prcss, and more than all, under the benign influence of 
religious institutions and inculcations, — the average man 
is advancing to a plane higher than that occupied by his 
predecessors. And this advance, although it might be 
interrupted and delayed by periods of reaction, he believed 


would continue. Hence he was never disturbed by sudden 
gusts of folly and fanaticism, of social and political pas- 
sion. Hence he could not be a '* prophet of evil," nor, 
like Carlyle, a hero-worshiper. He approved the saying 
of the late Sir John Seeley, that hero-worship is the nat- 
ural issue of '* despair of society." It seemed to him "a 
sign of pessimism," as another writer has said, "just as 
pessimism in turn is a sign either of epicureanism, or of 
impatience." His hopefulness saved him from impatience ; 
his Christian foith furnished a firm basis for his recognition 
of "avast providential law of secular progress," and so 
saved him from despair. 

To Dr. Paige was granted an ideal old age, which was 
passed in a community where everybody was his friend, 
eager to show him tokens of reverent regard, and during 
all which he was ministered to by a loyal and devoted wife 
— a playmate and schoolmate of his boyhood days, the 
companion of the last thirty years of his life. The end 
came after only a few days of serious illness — his vision 
undimmed, his mind unclouded, his Faith unshaken, his 
resignation perfect. 



014 013 465 P