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MEMORIAL 



OF 



HON. TOPPAN ROBIE. 



PORTLAND, ME. : 

DAILY PRESS PRINTING HOUSE— WM. M. MARKS, PRINTER. 

1871. 



.7fU 



}' 

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HISTORICAL SKETCH, 

BY HON. J. A. WATERMAN. 

Hon. Toppan Robie was born in Candia, N. H., Jan. 27, 
1782, and died at his residence in Gorham, Jan. 14, 1871. 
Tlie immediate cause of his death was inflammation of the 
bladder and kidneys, brought on by a slight cold. 

Mr. Robie was the fourth child of Edward and Sarah 
(Smith) Robie. His grandfather was Samuel, son of Icha- 
bod, son of John Robie, who came to this country from 
some part of Great Britain and settled in the town of At- 
kinson, N. H., about the year 1660. Mr. Robie's mother 
was the daughter of John Smith and Sarah Toppan, of 
Hampton, N. H. Hence, through his maternal grand- 
mother came his somewhat peculiar christian name. His 
parents removed from Chester, IST. H., to Candia in 1780, 
and when he was about four years old they returned to 
Chester, where they lived the remainder of their days. His 
father died at the age of 92, his mother at 89. He had 
three brothers and two sisters, of whom he was the sole 
survivor. His early opportunities for acquiring even a 
common school education were limited. When eight or 
nine years old he went to live with his grandmother Smith 
— then Webster, by her second marriage ; being a great 
favorite with her, partly no doubt on account of his chris- 
tian name. He remained the greater part of the time until 
he was fourteen with her and her son Edmund Webster, 
who was perhaps the most active and influential merchant 
in the town. He attended the town school when there was 
one, and was occasionally sent by his uncle to a private 
school, where he was taught only reading, writing and 
arithmetic. 

But it was during these years that his future course was 
shaped. Being a favorite in the family and familiar with 



6 



his uncle he spent a great deal of time in his store, where 
his natural inclination to mercantile pursuits was developed 
and fostered. At the age of fourteen he went to Haverhill, 
Mass., and was there employed in a store by Capt. Cotton 
B. Brooks, afterwards a successful merchant of Portland, 
where he died in 1834. 

In March, 1799, when 17 years of age he came to Gor- 
hara, a friend in Haverhill having procured a situation for 
him as clerk in the store of the late John Horton. He re- 
mained with Mr. Horton but a few months, and then went 
into the employ of the late Dan'l Cressey, who was at that 
time the principal trader in Gorham, and with whom he 
continued until September, 1802, when, before he was twen- 
ty-one years of age, in company with the late Sewall 
Lancaster, he commenced business for himself. During 
these years of clerkship his compensation was from $50 to 
$216 per year and board. Yet from this, by strict econo- 
my and careful husbanding of his earnings, he had laid by 
a very respectable amount, which he had as his own to use 
in commencing business. 

But the habits which he had acquired, his aptness and 
competency for business, his fidelity to his employers, and 
above all the value which he had established for his word., 
formed a capital worth far more through life than an in- 
herited fortune could have been. Mr. Cressey had perfect 
confidence in him, trusted his business with him to a very 
considerable extent, and often sent him, young as he was, 
to Boston to make his stated purchases for him. This, at a 
time when the purchase money of thousands of dollars was 
carried on the person, and the journey was made on horse- 
back, the goods to be purchased a general assortment, for a 
great variety of customers, requiring no ordinary skill and 
judgment in selection, and shrewdness in buying, was an ex- 
ceedingly delicate and responsible commission ; yet it was 
executed by young Robie in a manner which not only gave 
satisfaction to his employer, but established an acquaintance 
and standing among merchants in Boston, Avhich were of 
great advantage to him when he commenced business in his 
own name. 



In 1804 he took his brother, Thomas S. Robie, then a lad 
of thirteen, into his store, where he was employed in vari- 
ous capacities, from that of shop boy to the position of chief 
clerk vmtil 1815, when the two brothers went into partner- 
ship as retail merchants, and for more than twenty years 
oarried on business under the name of T. & T. S. Robie, 
in the store now occupied by their worthy successors, 
Messrs. Ridlon & Card. Never were two persons better 
fitted to conduct business together than these two brothers. 
Capt. Robie frequently declared, " never did two brothers 
get along more cordially and pleasantly than we did from 
beginning to end." Their business was very extensive and 
very profitable ; and the name of this firm was known all 
through the back countiy, and even as far as New Hamp- 
shire and Vermont, as the synonym of activity, energy and 
fair dealing. 

Mr. Thomas Robie, better known as Deacon Robie, was 
a man of eminent piety, a pure-minded consistent christian. 
He died in October 1838, beloved and lamented by the 
whole community. 

After the death of his brother Mr. Robie continued in 
trade a few years, and then withdrew from active partici- 
pation in mercantile pur.-uits. His property gradually ac- 
cumulating during these fifty years of close attention to 
business, had now become large, and needed his more imme- 
diate personal care, so that the past twenty years have been 
less active and stiiTing ones than he had before enjoyed 
since he first left his New Hampshire home to seek his for- 
tune. And yet there have been no idle or unoccupied years 
among them. His industrious habits clung to him to the 
last, and he always found some employment for mind or 
body, or both. He owned a good many acres of land near 
the village of Gorham, which he has carefully cultivated, 
certainly with great personal enjoyment if not profit, work- 
ing much with his own hands and always exercising a 
watchful supervision over his farming operations. Since he 
was eighty years old he has cleared and prepared for tillage 
some ten acres of wood and pasture land. In the summer 



months when the early — six o'clock — morning train from 
Gorham to Portland passed his newly purchased land we 
have often seen the venerable old man at work there, hatchet 
in hand, endeavoring, by cutting and burning, to extermi- 
nate the juniper bushes growing there, intruders to which he 
seemed to have special dislike, as symbolical of uselessness, 
waste and neglect. 

Mr. Robie has always been regarded with great respect 
by the citizens of the town in which he lived so long and 
among whom he had acquired his reputation as well as his 
wealth. He has held almost every municipal office wdiich 
he would accept. He was six years a representative of the 
town at the General Court of Massachusetts. In 1820-21 
he was representative in the Legislature of Maine, and in 
1837 a member of Gov. Kent's Executive Council. In 
1809 he united with the Congregational Church in Gorham, 
and continued his connection therewith and his interest in 
the church and parish as long as he lived. For many 
years he was treasurer both of the parish and of their 
ministerial fund. This fund was an object of peculiar 
interest, and almost personal attachment to him ; and un- 
der his careful management of it, as well as by his numer- 
ous contributions to it, it has trebled in amount since it first 
came to his hands. He was also one of the Trustees of 
Gorham Academy for more than fifty years — for many 
years their treasurer — and contributed often to aid the in- 
stitution. The past year he generously subscribed above 
^5000 towards the $20,000 cash fund which our citizens 
offered the Congregationalists of Maine as an inducement 
for the location of their proposed Classical School at Gor- 
ham. lie filled at different times during his long and use- 
ful life numerous other positions of honor and trust, and 
always discharged the duties attaching thereto with marked 
ability and strict fidelity. 

During the war of 1812 he was Captain of a company of 
militia, and when, in 1814, it was supposed that Portland 
was in danger of invasion, and among other troops Gen. 
Irish's brigade was ordered there, Capt. Robie marched "to 



9 



the front," at tlie head of his company. The company en- 
rolled G3 men ; of this number John Cressey, Darius Libbj^, 
Philip Larrabee and Elisha Irish, all of Gorham, are the 
only survivors. 

Capt. Robie was married three times. In 1804 to jNIiss 
Lydia Brown, daughter of Benj. Brown of Chester, N. H., 
and a sister of the late Rev. Francis Brown, D. D., the 
distinguished President of Dartmouth College, from 1815 
to 1820. Mrs. Robie died in Feb. 1811, having borne him 
two children, Harriet, who married Oliver Lincoln of 
Boston, and died in 1832, and Francis Brown Robie, now 
living at Gorham. He was again married in September, 
1811, to Miss Sarah Thaxter Lincoln, daughter of Capt. 
John Lincoln, originally from Hingham, Mass., but then 
residing in Gorham. By her he had three children, Charles, 
George and Frederick. George died in 1856. Charles and 
Frederick survive and both reside in Gorham. This mar- 
riage relation continued about seventeen years, when it 
was sundered by the death of his wife in 1828. In 
November, 1828, he married Mrs. Eliza Cross, widow of 
Capt. William Cross, of Portland, and daughter of Wra. 
Stevens, also of Portland. By her he had no children. — 
She died Nov. 2, 1865, at the age of 83. 

Having in the acquisition of his own large estate devoted 
the closest attention to his business and exercised strict 
economy and prudent care in small matters, searching for 
saving grains, rather than looking after and expecting to 
find nuggets or bars of gold, he retained these habits 
through life. He had no sympathy for or patience with 
anything which apjieared to him like idleness, waste or 
extravagance. Though not by nature a generous man, 
certainly not impulsively so, he dispensed very liberal sums 
in public and private benefactions, as in the instance 
already alluded to of his contribution to the Ministerial 
Fund and in aid of the Academy, in his gifts to the town 
of the soldier's monument and a town clock, and a donation 
made by him on his 80th birth-day of 85,000 to the Con- 
gregational Church and Parish of Chester. 



10 



In politics, commencing as a Federalist, lie was after- 
wards an ardent Whig, and in latter years an equally earnest 
Republican. Tliougli always active and outspoken in the 
support of his political principles, he made but few enemies 
and rarely did any permanent bitterness of feeling result 
from such a course. On the contrary, he was generally 
very popular and held in great respect among all parties 
and classes. 

Believing it to be his duty as a good citizen, as well as 
being always ready to sustain his principles by his ballot, he 
has never since his majority failed to attend the State and 
municipal elections, or to cast his vote openly and fearlessly 
for the persons of his choice. 

While very pleasing in his person and address, always 
sufficiently dignified, but affable and agreeable, he possessed 
an unusual degree of firmness and persistency. When he 
had deliberately decided upon a course of action — and he 
seldom acted rashly — he rarely abandoned it, but pursued 
it to the end, and took the consequences courageously, when 
they came. 

Thus endowed, with all these careful and prudent ways, 
and unusually successful in all his purposes of life, it is not 
strange that the most implicit confidence was placed in 
him by so many of his fellow citizens, nor that he was for 
more than half a century their counsellor and friend, and 
their model of prudence and sagacity, as well of integrity 
and fair dealing in all their business relations. While 
they believed that "his word was as good as his bond," it 
was his pride to show that all this confidence had not been 
misplaced. 

Descended from a hardy stock and possessing a sound 
and healthy mind, as well as a strong and vigorous body 
never injured by any excesses, he was permitted to reach a 
very advanced age, with mental and bodily powers uniisu- 
ally bright and active to the last. 

What an eventful period in our history a life thus pro- 
longed covers ! 

He lived during the administration of each of our Presi- 



11 

dents, and under the constitution in all its phases and 
amendments. In fact, this period embraces the whole his- 
tory of our government and the country since the close of 
the revolutionary war. 

How few of those who thus connect us with the past 
survive. 

Our friend was grateful that time had dealt so gently 
with him, and that a kind Father had spared him from so 
many of the ills and afiflctions incident to such advanced 
age ; and in this feeling his surviving relatives and friends 
have every reason to share. 

His loss will be deeply and extensively felt, not only in 
the immediate community in which he has dwelt so long, 
but throughout the town, and by a large class of business 
friends and acquaintances elsewhere. 

He goes to his grave full of years and honors, and it is 
believed without an enemy in the world. "He rests from 
his labors and his works do follow him." 



12 



BURIAL SERVICE. 

The weeping skies of Monday, Jan. 16, seemed in sym- 
pathy with the sadness which rested on the village of Gor- 
ham. The stores were closed, the Seminary Exercises 
snspended, as was business generally. The body was laid 
in a beautiful rosewood casket, studded with silver nails. 
On the silver plate was the simple inscription : 

TOPPAN ROBIE, 

DIED JANUARY 14, 1871, 

Aged 89 years 11 months. 

The features were perfectly natural, and had the appear- 
ance of sleep. At three o'clock the services at the late 
residence, under charge of Mr. J. C. Card, began by the 
singing, by the young ladies of the Seminary, led by their 
music teacher. Miss Charlotte A. Ginn, the following hymn, 
written by request for the occasion, by Prof. E. P. Thwing. 
The plaintive melody of Playel's Hymn was well adapted 
to the expresrion of the sentiment of the lyric, and during 
the singing of the second stanzas, Miss E. M. Chadbourne 
and Miss K. D. Smith slowly advanced to the casket and 
reverently laid upon it a beautiful garland and cross of 
flowers, the gift of the Seminary : 

Golden grain from harvest ripe, 

Angel reapers garner in ; 
Joy above, but grief below, 

Where the reapers' steps have been. 

We around the aged form. 

Gather here with filial love. 
Memory's garland now we bring, 

Token of his crown above. 



13 

Farewell! Father, Patron, Friend! 

We no more thy face shall see, 
Yet thj^ name enshrined in love 

In our hearts shall ever be ! 

May thy lips to others now 

Be a bright example here. 
That upon their brows in death 

Gratitude may drop her tear! 

Appropriate selections of scripture were read by Kev. C. 
C. Parker, D. D., wlio then spoke as follows : 

An unwonted sense of loneliness is on our hearts, and on 
all this community. A father in our Israel — a father in 
our whole community — has fallen. "VVe are gathered to the 
burial of one, who for more than seventy years has been 
identijQ.ed with this place ; who for years was its leading 
business man ; for years its most trusted public servant, in 
all the departments of public trust. All the high interests 
of the town — those of the church and parish with which he 
was connected and of which he was by far the senior mem- 
ber, the interests of learning, as connected with the Acade- 
my and Seminary, were dear to him. For their promotion 
he gave with a munificent hand. 

From a lad of seventeen to the hoary age of almost four- 
score and ten years, he has lived among us. Here, with 
singular sagacit}', energy and success he did his W'ork in 
the days of his vigor, managing and moulding the aftairs of 
the place. Here he spent his quiet serene old age. Here, 
surrounded by his children, and children's children and 
countless friends, he has passed away. 

We are sad that we shall see him no more in our streets, 
our places of business, our houses of worship ; sad that we 
shall be welcomed no more to this, for so many years, his 
home ; that he will greet us no more with his genial smile, 
and his pleasant words, or instruct us with his words of 
wisdom and experience. 

But while sad and lonely, we rejoice that the silver cord 
was loosened and the golden bowl broken so late and in so 
much mercy ; and especially that the Christian hope, cher- 



14 



ished for more than threescore years, did not desert him, 
but was strong and sure to the end ; that he went like a 
shock of corn in his season, ripe for the garner of God. 

The Choir, led by Dea. Joseph Kedlon, sang to the tune 
of Naomi the hymn beginning : 

O God, our help iu ages past. 

Prayer was then offered by Rev. Dr. Parker, after which 
the hymn beginning, 

We've no abiding city here, 
was sung to the tune of Wells. The body was then borne 
to the Cemetery, followed by the children and grand children 
of the deceased and a large concourse of friends and citi- 
zens of the town. Twelve of the leading citizens acted 
as pallbearers as follows : Hon. John A. Waterman, 
Daniel C. Emery, Esq., Joseph Ridlon, Esq., Stephen 
Hinkley, Esq., Gen. Edward T. Smith, Col. Humphrey 
Cousens, William Burton, Esq., Marshall Irish, Esq., 
Samuel R. Clemments, Esq., Charles Paine, Esq., and 
John Card, Esq., — the church bell sounding his dirge. 



16 



Gorham, January 23d, 1871. 
Rev. C. C. Parker, D. D. 

Dear Sir : 
The undersigned having listened with great interest to your dis- 
course yesterday afternoon, relative to the life and character of the 
late Hon. Toppan Robie, and believing that it would be read with 
equal interest by many of our townsmen, and others Avho did not 
have the privilege of hearing it, respectfully request a copy of the 
same for publication. 

With much esteem, your ob't serv'ts, 

John A. Waterman, R. G. Harding, 
J. B. Webb, Daniel C. Emery, 

Stephen Hinkley, Marshall Irish, 

Thad's p. Irish, R. A. Fogg, 

Joseph Ridlon, Samuel F. Bacon, 

Geo. B. Emery, John C. Card. 



Gorham, Januarj^ 24th. 1871. 
Gentlemen : 

Your note requesting for pub- 
lication the discourse relative to the life of the Hon. Toppan Robie, 
has been received. 

Such was the character of Mr. Robie, and such his relations to 
this community, that I am not at liberty to decline your request. 
Inadequate and imperfect as it is, the discourse is at your disposal. 
Very truly yours, 

C. C. Parker. 
Hon. J. A. Waterman, D. C. Emery, Esq., Dea. M. Irish and 
others. 



17 



MEMORIAL DISCOURSE, 

BY REV. C. C. PARKER, D. D. 



Zech. 1st, 5tli. — ^^Your fathers, where are theyf^ 

The prophet puts this question to rebuke the arrogance 
of Israel, by reminding them of their common mortahty. 
Many of the fathers had lived long and accomplished 
much, but -where are they ? All gone. They and the 
prophets are all asleep with the dead. 

Put this question here — put it in any community, Your 
fathers where are they ? and what shall the answer be ? 
Gone, all gone ! Herodotus tells us that as Xerxes 
reviewed on the plains of Doriscus the army of nearly 
five millions, with which he had just invaded Greece, he 
wept at the thought that in one hundred years not one of 
all that vast throng moving before him, would be in the 
land of the living. Had the haughty, but for the moment 
subdued monarch seen all the future of that army he 
would have found abundant occasion for weeping. Before 
one of the hundred years was gone, Thermopylae and 
Salamis and Platgea with the pestilence and famine had 
swept from the earth nearly all that mighty host, and the 
king himself was fleeing, an almost solitary fugitive, back 
to Babylon, the capital of his kingdom, wliich so recently 
he had left in such pomp and glory, and where in a few 
years he himself was slain by the captain of his own 
guards. 



18 

But it needs not war, nor pestilence, nor famine to carry 
the generations of men from the earth in an exceedingly 
brief period. The truth that so impressed itself upon the 
mind of the Persian King, is a truth still. The law of 
human life has not been changed. One hundred years 
ago, those who were literally the fathers of this town — who 
came when the red man Avas here — when the bear 
and the wolf, the deer and the moose, the beaver and the 
otter had their haunts on our hills and by our streams, — 
who cleared the forests from our farms, opened the virgin 
soil to the sun and changed the wilderness into fruitful 
fields. One hundred years ago these fathers, Phinney, 
and McLellan, and Irish and Alden and Cressey and 
Files and many of their associates were here and still 
actively engaged in the business of life. But where are 
they now ? For years every one of them has been sleep- 
ing with the dead. Not only the fathers of that day, but 
all these here from the hoariest age down to the child in 
its mother's arms — all are gone. We read their names 
on the records of the town and the records of the church 
and on the time-worn stones of the grave-yard — the story 
of what they said and what they did, is current among 
us — the houses they built, the farms they subdued, are 
pointed out, but not one of them is in the land of the 
living. Many of them lived to extreme old age, but at 
last, one by one, the great reaper gathered them in. — 
Many of them did a most important work, founding the 
institutions and forming the society of the town, but for 
years they have been resting in their graves — their work 
all done. 

We come down to the beginning of the present century. 
Where are the men then busy on your farms and in your 
stores and shops ? Within the bounds of the town, only one 
Mr. Robert Estes, now in his 94th year, survives, who had 
then reached his majority. With this exception not one of 
all that thenfiUed your house of worship, from Sabbath to 



19 

Sabbath, or Avere seen in your streets from day to day, 
not one then the head of a household, or in any wise con- 
nected with the affiiirs of the town, remains. A few then 
in their childhood, remain to tell us what [these men did, 
concerned as they were in building this house of worship, 
in founding the Academy on yonder hill and in giving a 
new impulse to the business and a higher tone to the 
character of the town, but to the question, "Your fathers 
where are they ?" having these in mind the answer is, 
"Gone, all gone." We say this with an emphasis now, that 
we could never say it before. The last of these fathers we 
have just laid to his rest in the grave. In the death of 
Hon. Toppan Robie, the last link that bound us as a com- 
munity, to the distant past of the town and by which 
we joined hands with the first settlers is broken. 

This community has followed to the grave many a citi- 
zen, eminent for qualities of mind and heart, eminent 
for services to the church and town. I need but mention 
Phinney and McLellan, the settlers — Lombard and 
Thatcher the first ministers. Judges Gorham and Long- 
fellow, and more recently Gen. Irish, Judge Pierce, Dr. 
Waterman, Mr. Hinkley. You will recall a long list of 
eminent names intimately connected with the highest in- 
terests of the town for Avhom at their death the whole com- 
munity mourned as for a father fallen. But never, I think, 
in all the history of the town, has one passed away who had 
been so intimately and for so long a period connected with 
all the interests of the town, whose name was so well 
known, or whose influence was so controlling in places of 
business, in municipal aftairs, in the advancement of 
learning and in all the financial concerns of the church 
and parish as has passed away in the death of Mr. 
Toppan Robie, or for whom the community mourned with 
a more unfeigned and general sorrow. 

The history of such a man as Mr. Robie is full of inter- 
est — its lessons are a valuable heritage to the community. 



20 



Let us study this history and ponder these lessons. I 
shall attempt no formal biographical sketch, that has been 
already done by most competent hands. 

Mr. Robie came to this town in 1799, at the age of 17 
years to serve as clerk in the store of Mr. Daniel Cressey. 
Born amid the hills of New Hampshire, he came with no 
inheritance save a sound and vigorous constitution and 
those qualities of mind and heart which so characterized 
his life. He came a lad, penniless and a stranger. He 
dies at the advanced age of nearly four score and ten, 
having amassed by far the largest fortune ever accumu- 
lated in town — having had more to do with all its varied 
affairs and leaving the stamp of his character more deeply 
impressed than any that had gone before him and the 
citizens of the town are his mourners. 

What was the secret of all this ? The answer is found 
in his sterling sense, his spotless integrity, his unwaived 
and systematic industry and attention to business, 
coupled with personal habits of great moderation and 
frugahty. 

When he was clerk the interests of his employer were 
his interests. He needed no admonitions to do liis duty. 
By his readiness, judgment and tact he quickly made him- 
self a necessity to his employer commanding his confidence 
and good will. Mr. Cressey, with whom he served the 
longest period here, used to say of him, that he was the 
best boy he ever knew. Such was his esteem of him, 
both for judgment and integrity, that in a short time he 
entrusted to him, to a large extent, his business, both in 
the general management of the store and in the more 
difficult and delicate task of making the varied purchases 
in Portland and Boston, necessary for such an establish- 
ment. 

When in company with Mr. Lancaster, he entered upon 
business for himself, the capital he had was the few 
hundred dollars, by strict economy and frugality already 



21 

accumulated, together with his acquaintance with the 
business and with community, and what was better than 
either, his reputation for energy, sagacity and trust 
worthiness. With these for his foundation and while yet 
too young to cast a vote at the polls, he entered upon a 
career of business, in a department where competition is 
the sharpest, and where wrecks and failures are most nu- 
merous ; but by a clear comprehension of his business, 
and a careful husbandry of his means, fulfilling to the let- 
ter every promise to customer or creditor — always keeping 
abreast of the demand in community with his supplies ; 
never getting far ahead of it, he gradually enlarged his 
transactions, until from a business of a few thousands, it 
became a business of many thousands ; until from a local 
store of a country village, his place of business became 
the centre of traffic for a vast region. AVith his brother 
Thomas S. Robie, first as his trusted and confidential clerk, 
and then from 1815, for more than twenty years, as his 
partner, he competed largely and successfully with the 
merchants of Portland for the extension trade, not only 
of neighboring towns in this State, but also for that of all 
Northern N. H. and North Eastern Vt., a region then 
known as the "Coos Country," whose natural market be- 
fore the building of rail roads, was Portland. For those 
distant and desirable customers, his business became largely 
wholesale business, both in the purchase of their produce, 
and in the sale of goods with which they reloaded their 
teams. Coming as they often did, especially in Winter, in 
companies of from twenty to sLxty or more teams, the 
traffic with them became most important and lucrative, 
but demanding for the right handling of it all the 
best qualities of the successful merchant. With an eye 
that missed nothing, and with an energy and enterprise 
that never slumbered, Mr.. Robie managed this business, 
and made it the source of large and constantly increasing 
income. His name became a synonym for mercantile 



/ 



22 



honor' and enterprise through all the region whence this 
traffic came. 

The business life of Mr. Robie was purely that of the 
merchant. He entered into no speculations; on those 
troubled, uncertain waters, he launched not a craft, un- 
furled not a sail. But all business germane to that of a 
merchant, and which he could make subsidiary to that, 
he established and prosecuted with energy, often employ- 
ing in the various departments of business, a large number 
of men. As a merchant, he took possession of the whole 
field at his command, and cultivated it to the utmost. 
He filled the measure of his opportunity. His story 
from a well nigh penniless, friendless boy, as he entered 
this village seventy-two years ago next March, up to the 
head of his large establishment, and the possession of 
his great wealth, is exceedingly interesting, with not a 
little of romance in it. It is the story over again of the 
Budgetts, the Astors, the Lawrences, the Peabodys, and 
the vast majority of successful merchants and business 
men, the world over, sagacity, energy, integrity, enter- 
prise, a clear open eye, a brave heart, a dihgent hand, al- 
ways against all odds winning the day. 

Had Mr. Robie been led in early life, to establish him- 
self in a large city, and enter the wider field that would 
have been open to him then, there is little doubt he would 
have rivalled the most successful, and been numbered 
among the merchant princes of the country. There was 
in him every element of success in all mercantile and 
commercial matters. 

The value of such a merchant in a community, cannot 
easily be estimated. The merchant's calling is a most im- 
portant one in all the economy of civilized life, bringing as 
it does to our doors, the products and fabrics of almost all 
the earth, and taking in exchange the surplus of our own 
products, thus giving currency to all the business of life. 
The merchant is eminently a pubhc servant, without whom 



23 

civilized life would not be possible. In all ages he has 
been a most important factor in the grand product of hu- 
man welfare, both by promoting intercourse and inter- 
change among men and nations, enabling each to enjoy 
the products of all, and also by the general elevation of 
the race. And that merchant who with wise forecast, 
tireless industry and unsullied honesty, successfully con- 
ducts his business; at whose counter the little child or 
servant girl, as surely as the banker, gets her money's 
worth, is above all price in community; and the qualities 
of mind and heart necessary to large success in this call- 
mg, are among the liighest and best that pertain to man. 
All these qualities Mr. Robie possessed in an eminent 
degree. As a business man he was the centre of great 
influence and power in the community. Had he been sim- 
ply a business man, nothing but a merchant, with his clear 
well defined purposes, his intelligence, enterprise, and 
fair dealings, he would have been in a high degree a 
public benefactor. 

But eminent as were his qualities as a merchant, — 
extensive and engrossing as were his business operations, 
demanding constant thought and circumspection, Mr. 
Robie limited not himself to these. The scale of his mind 
was quite too large to be thus circumscribed. From the 
first he took a deep and active interest in all public 
concerns of the town. Capable and faithful in his own 
affairs, public trusts were soon committed to his hands. 
With the same fidelity and tact that he managed his 
private business he took care of these trusts. The result 
was that for years, and that while he was conducting his 
extensive mercantile business, he was largely engaged in 
public matters at home and abroad. For years he repre- 
sented the town first in the general court of Mass., and 
then when this State was organized in the Legislature of 
Maine, being one of the last representatives in the former 
and the first in the latter. During the administration of 



24 



Gov. Kent, he was a member of the Executive Council. 
He was repeatedly appointed by the court a commissioner 
for the location of county and other public roads. In the 
war of 1812, though a staunch Federalist, he commanded 
the company raised by the town for the defence of Port- 
land, from which he derived the title of Captain, which 
subsequently he always bore. He had great aptitude for 
public as well as private business and had he fully entered 
that field, there is little doubt he would have attained high 
distinction. Certainly what he did, he did well. No 
trust committed to his hands suJBfered. In dealing with , 
public interests, he might and doubtless did, sagaciously 
promote his private interests, but never to the detriment 
of the public. What the public had a right to expect and 
claim the public got. None of its revenues slipped 
through his fingers or stuck to his palms. 

Mr, Robie from the first, took a lively interest in the 
promotion of higher education in the community, and this 
interest continued unabated to the end. Though too 
young and too recently here to be one of the original 
trustees of the Academy, he was one of its earliest and 
warmest friends, and soon became one of the most influ- 
ential members of its Board of Trust, a position which he 
held until his death, having been for years the senior 
member. From time to time he gave liberally to the 
funds of the Academy and Seminary, having taken a 
most active part in the establishment of the latter. He 
uniformily attended with interest all public examinations 
and exhibitions. We shall not soon forget, how with 
infirm step h3 climbed Academy Hill bearing the burden 
of nearly four score and ten years, to attend the closing 
exercises of the last Academic year, or the appearance of 
his venerable form, as in the evening, at the public exhibi- 
tion he sat on the stage in this house. 

The generous ofier of a cash subscription of $20,000 
made a few months ago by the citizens of this place to 



25 

secure the location here, bv the Congregationalists of 
Maine, of their proposed Classical School, was due in a 
large measure to the interest and zeal in the matter man- 
ifested by Mr. Robie. He drew the subscription and 
headed it with a pledge of $5,000. He attended all the 
meetings of citizens and trustees in regard to it, whether 
by day or night, and at last added largely to his first sub- 
scription to secure the $20,000. When to the liberal offer 
made by the Trustees of the Seminary and the citizens of 
Gorham an adverse response was received, no one felt 
a deeper, sadder disappointment than he. Among the 
last conversations I had with him, previous to his last 
sickness, he referred with unabated interest to the subject. 
His one great desire for years, had been to see the Sem- 
inary, and with it, the cause of high and sound learning 
and liberal culture here, on a sure foundation. Throug-h 
the proposed Classical School, he hoped this might be 
attained and he was ready to give largely. The failure 
was the one peculiar sadness of his last days. 

From his earhest manhood Mr. Robie was much inter- 
ested in the concerns of the parish. Often acting as 
collector, he was annoyed and disgusted at the petty, 
paltry ways in which men, otherwise fair and honorable, 
would avoid payment of parish subscription and assess- 
ment. To avoid this vexation, he resolved to have estab- 
lished a Ministerial Fund, the income of which should, in 
part or entirely, support the preaching of the gospel. 
The present fund is largely due to his efforts. More 
than half of it is the result of his donations. If in latter 
years he has had any pet measure this has been it. For 
the most of the time after its foundation he was its trea- 
surer, and could not have cared for his own private inter- 
ests with more watchfulness and concern than he did for 
the safety and increase of this fund. It ought to be a 
great blessing to the church and parish, enabling them to 
do much more liberally for all the general objects of be- 



26 



nevolence for which the demands are so urgent. If it 
shall ever fail to be a blessing, it will sadlj disappoint the 
hopes and purposes of Mr. Robie. Having great confi- 
dence in the wisdom of establishing such funds espe- 
cially in feeble parishes, he celebrated his eightieth birth 
day by the gift for this purpose of $5,000 to his ancestral 
parish in Chester, N. H. 

Mr. Robie did little from impulse. He was eminently 
a man of calculation, purpose, fore-thought. In his 
dealings he was rigidly just, rather than impulsively gen- 
erous. Intending to keep his own word — fulfill it to the 
letter — he expected the same from others and strongly 
insisted upon it. Such an example in its leading business 
man, was most healthful on the whole tone of dealing in the 
community. He was willing to be taxed liberally for the 
support of the poor, but he was not much in the habit of 
seeking them out and aiding them with private benefactions. 
To him to accumulate was easy, and his wants were few 
and simple. Industry, frugality and temperance in all 
things, were high virtues in his esteem. He knew that much 
of the poverty around him was needless, if not criminal, the 
result of thriftlessness, folly and dissipation and he had 
little sympathy or patience with it. It is well all are not 
like Mr. Robie in this respect. As society is, there is a 
place and demand for sympathetic impulsive generosity. 
Be the cause of poverty what it may, the poor we always 
have with us, and somebody must seek and succor them. 
No duty is plainer. But it is well for the community that 
all generosity is not impulsive — the offspring of a quick 
and fickle sympathy — that with some it is cool, syste- 
matic, forecasting. In this respect Mr. Robie was much 
like the late George Peabody, whom he resembled in very 
many qualities of mind and heart. Such men accumulate 
that they may endow our schools and colleges — found our 
asylums and homes for the destitute — and thus diffuse 



27 

light and knowledge and with them comfort and gladness 
perpetually among men. 

It is well all men are not of the one kind or the other. 
The world needs both In these as in all his gifts, God 
has rightly tempered human society. In this respect, 
judging from the concurrent testimony of the community, 
Mr. Robie and his brother Dea. Thomas S. Robie, admir- 
ably supplimented each other, the latter spontaneously 
seeking the poor and with prompt, generous, but unobtru- 
sive, often unseen hand sending them relief and with 
it often some message of christian instruction and com- 
fort. 

But while Mr. Robie's benevolence did not naturally, 
spontaneously take this direction, but found expression 
rather in such gifts as those to our ministerial fund, and 
to that of his paternal parish, in donations to the Academy 
and Seminary, in the erection of the soldier's monument 
and in putting the clock into the tower of our church, he 
by no means withheld his hand from private benefactions. 
Rarely, I apprehend, did he refuse to give more or less to 
and worthy object seeking aid at his hands. 

Mr. Robie and his first wife, Mrs. Lydia Robie, united 
in full communion with this church June 1, 1809, and 
came to the Lord's table on the 4th of that month. They 
had previously during the ministry of Rev. Mr. Noyes, 
united with the church on what was then known as the 
"Halfway Covenant." When Mr. Rand was invited to 
the pastorate of this church, he made it a condition of 
settlement thac this covenant should be abolished, and 
none admitted to church privileges but on full profession 
of faith in Christ. Mr. Rand was settled in January, 
1809, and Mr. and Mrs. Robie came to the communion 
in June following. Since the death of Gen. Irish his 
life-long friend and associate, Mr. Robie, has been the 
senior member of the church. In the financial and gen- 
eral affairs of the church and parish he took a deep in- 



28 



terest, but he seldom, if ever, took part in a social meeting 
or spoke of his religious feelings and experience. In these 
respects he was verj reticent. And yet whenever, during 
the few years of my pastorate here, I have alluded to the 
subject, he has spoken with cheerfulness and confidence 
of his Christian hope. At my last interview with him, 
a few hours before he lost his speech and consciousness, 
after a brief prayer, at his request, he spoke with much 
freedom of himself, saying with as much emphasis as in 
his sickness and feebleness he could command, " All my 
trust is in Christ. I trust not at all to myself or to what 
I have done — I trust all to Christ." He then asked my 
views of heaven. Understanding him to refer to recog- 
nition of friends, I expressed my confidence that we should 
meet and know them there. He added, " I have thought 
of this a great deal lately. It will be so pleasant to meet, 
my father and my mother and the dear companions that 
have gone before me." But, said he, "I know all will 
be right. We shall be satisfied." With these among his 
last thoughts and last words, he soon fell into that sleep 
which issued finally in the sleep of death. 

Thus has passed away the last of the fathers. To the 
question. Where are they? the answer is, as never before, 
full and unqualified. " All gone." The link that so long 
connected us with the remote part of our town is broken. 
The living volume, from which we had read so many in- 
teresting chapters of local history, is closed. 

The old age of Mr. Robie was singularly serene. For 
years his work had been so done, his business matters so 
arranged, that he was ready for his departure at any mo- 
ment, and yet he was busy to the last. The mind that had 
been so active, the hand that had been so diligent in his 
prime and vigor, were active and diligent still. No rust 
gathered on the machinery of his being, mental or physi- 
cal. Whatever asperities, poUtical or ecclesiastical con- 
troversies had engendered in the past, were all softened 



29 

or obliterated by time and age. He cherished no enmi- 
ties, he was every man's friend. His look as we saw him 
from Sabbath to Sabbath in the house of God, his smile 
and his words of greeting, of counsel and cheer, as we 
met him in our streets^ in our shops and offices, or at his 
home, where for years he had lived, breathed a perpetual 
benediction. Thus he was with us, interested in all that 
interests us, going in and out, like a father, almost to the 
end. His sun went down full orbed and in a clear sky. 

To me Mr. Robie had been a person of peculiar inter- 
est from the first. I saw in him, I thought, one of the 
finest representatives of the gentlemen of the Old School, 
intelligent, courteous, dignified in an eminent degree. — 
Though certainly not a perfect man, he was a model of 
his kind. His character was singularly symmetrical and 
complete. 

It was a fortunate day for Gorham when the lad Top- 
pan Robie entered and begun his work in our village. 
Sadness was on all the community the day when in the 
wintry storm we bore the form of the patriarch, Toppan 
Robie, a name almost a synonyme with Gorham, to its 
rest in the grave. 

Let us gather up and ponder the lessons of this man's 
life. As he followed Christ and the right, served God 
and his generation, let us follow his steps. The longest 
life soon ends, the most important work is soon done. 
Happy shall we be, if, when our record is made up, there 
shall be in it as much the world will care to read, as little 
it will wish to blot, as there is in that of Toppan Robie.