Skip to main content

Full text of "Samuel Joseph May. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, September 12th, 1797. Died in Syracuse, New York, July 1st, 1871"

See other formats

p 449 
Copy 1 


Samuel Joseph May. 

. CK-S 


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, 
September 12th, 1797. 

Died in Syracuse, New York, 
July 1st, 1871. 




" And I heard a voice from Heaven , 
saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead 
which die in the Lord from henceforth : 
yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest 
from their labors ; and their works do 
follow them," 

Another hand is beckoning us, 

Another call is given, 
And glows once more with angel steps 

The path which reaches Heaven. 

Sweet promptings unto kindest deeds 

Were in his very look ; 
We read his lace, as one who reads 

A true and holy book ; 

The measure of a blessed hymn 
To which our hearts could move ; 

The breathing of an inward psalm, 
A canticle of love. 

Fold him, O Father, in Thine arms, 
A nd let him henceforth be 

A messenger of love, between 
Our human hearts and Thee. 

Still let his mild rebuking stand 
Between us and the wrong, 

And his dear memory serve to make 
Our faith in -rooducss strong. 


At a meeting of the members of the Unitarian Congre- 
gational Society of Syracuse, held after morning service 
in the Church of the Messiah, on Sunday, July 9th, 1871, 
a committee, consisting of Pev. S. E. Calthrop, Mr. C. D. 
B. Mills, Mr. D. P. Phelps, Mr. IT. X. White, Mrs. Mary 
E. Bagg, and Mrs. Kebecca J. Burt, was appointed to pre- 
pare and publish a memorial pamphlet embracing the fune- 
ral obsequies of the former pastor of the Society, — Rev. 
Samuel J. May. 

In the performance of that duty, the committee have not 
thought it advisable to use more of the very abundant 
matter in their hands, than is included in the following 
pages. They were inclined at first, to add some of the 
very many appreciative and glowing tributes to Mr. May's 
life and character which his death spontaneously called out, 
from both the religious and secular press. 

The occasion seemed also to invite a somewhat detailed 
account ot his pastorate in Syracuse, so faithfully filled on 
the one hand and so lovingly received on the other— ex- 
tending from 1815 to 186S— through twenty-three of the 
best years of his active, beautiful and saintly life, and which 
was officially ended, only to be merged in new relations 



with his people, if possible stronger and more tender than 

Bat upon reflection it was felt, that a rounded Christian 
life like Mr. May's — so beautiful and complete in all its full 
proportions, called at once for a faithful and loving biogra- 
pher, and that any attempt on the part of the committee to 
anticipate in this memorial of his death and burial, any 
material part of that biographer's proper work, would 
be inappropriate. By whomsoever the story of his life 
shall be told, we may rest assured that his pastorate in Sy- 
racuse, and the noble work which he here did for his 
parish, for the community about him, and for the world at 
large, will receive the attention which it deserves. 

And }'et the committee have deemed it very proper to go 
so far beyond the limitation thus marked out for themselves, 
as to incorporate in this memorial, the very full obituary 
notice of Mr. Ma} 7 which appeared in the Syracuse Daily 
Standard^ on the Monday morning after his death ; a notice 
which for its brief comprehensiveness, its thorough appre- 
ciation of the work he had done and of his exalted chris- 
tian character, and for its loving tenderness of spirit and 
expression, seemed to make it the fitting article for the 
place we give it. 

The committee have also to express their obligations to 
the several daily papers of the city, and to the Christian 
Register of Boston, for their very full reports of the ser- 
vices at the Church and at Oakwood, on the occasion ot the 
funeral, of which they have very freely availed them- 

The death of Mr. May was quite sudden. Although he 
had been ill for several weeks, he felt much better again, 


and spoke hopefully of dismissing bis nurse, and of visiting 
New England. He saw several friends on Saturday, in- 
cluding President White, of Cornell University, who in- 
formed him of an offer received by his University of a very 
liberal gift, upon the condition that young women should 
have the same advantages as young men in that institution. 
Mr. May promised to give the college his portrait of Prudence 
Crandall, if this should be consummated, and he parted 
with Mr. White in the most cheerful and affectionate man- 
ner. About ten o'clock in the evening he became very ill. 
As his strength ebbed away, he manifested a desire that his 
daughter should kiss him, and then, witli a farewell smile 
his spirit took its upward flight. 

His death occurred at so late an hour on Saturday even- 
ing, that but few persons knew of it until announced, as it 
was, in several of the churches after morning service next 

These announcements were generally accompanied by 
spontaneous, heartfelt tributes to his exalted character and 
pure, noble life. 

The whole community were deeply impressed ; and as 
soon as it became generally known, large numbers of per- 
sons — people of all conditions in life — called at the house 
of his son-in-law, Mr. Alfred Wilkinson, with whom he had 
lived, not only to express their respect and sorrow, but that 
they might once more look upon that face, which in death 
retained the same beautiful expression of love for all his 
kind, which made it everywhere and always in life, a wel- 
come presence, shedding heavenly benedictions upon all 
around him. And so, to the day of his funeral, friends 
from far and near, those who knew him well and those who 



only knew of him, came there, impelled by a common sor- 
row, which had cast its dark shadow over all their homes, 
and made deep wounds in all their hearts. 

Gen-it Smith came from Peterboro, notwithstanding his 
own illness, and also wrote : " Mr. May was the most 
Christ-like man that I ever knew. He made Christ his pat- 
tern, and how successfully, was proved by his never-failing 
gentleness, meekness and sweetness. Heaven is more de- 
sirable to me now that my dear May is there." 

The city papers of Monday morning, contained long and 
glowing tributes to his worth, one of which, from the Daily 
Stcmdard, we reproduce. 



Not in this community alone, where the kindly face of 
our departed friend and teacher was so familiarly known, 
and his reputation so tenderly cherished, but also in many 
different sections of the land, where he had worked in holy 
enterprises, and attached to himself zealous circles of friends, 
will the announcement of the death of Samuel J. May be 
received with profoundest sorrow. In common with a host 
of loving ones, impressed with the sublimity of the char- 
acter we would depict, and the worthlessness of words in 
its serene presence, we would offer our tribute of respect to 
the memory of him who, through goodness, rose to great- 
ness, uniting the courage of a Knox and the ardor of a 
Howard with the dear simplicity of the Vicar of Wake- 
field. The life we would sketch was unusually prolonged 
and essentially earnest, crowded with activities and crown- 
ed with blessings; and it is, therefore, difficult, in a limited 
space, to compass a comprehensive survey of its usefulness, 
or even to detail many of the facts which gave it signifi- 
cance ; nor does this, indeed, seem necessary in a region 
which sensitively vibrated to its touch, and is imbued with 
regard tor it^ efficacy and reverence for its spirit. We trust. 



however, that we may be enabled, while outlining its 
course, to emphasize a portion of its virtues and to extract 
therefrom something of the secret of its power. 

Samuel Joseph May was born in Boston on the 12th day 
of September, 1707. lie was the tenth of twelve children 
of Joseph and Dorothy Sewall May, all of whom attained 
mature years, and but one of whom, the wife of the think- 
er Alcott, and the mother of the author of " Little Women," 
survives. He was of Puritan stock, as moulded by the hardy 
influences of early colonial times and as modified by the 
searching theological reformation which swept over Massa- 
chusetts towards the close of the last century. He was de- 
scended, in the fourth generation, from John May, who, 
born in England in 1628, came to New England while quite 
a lad, settled in Roxbury, near Jamaica Pond, and acquired 
an estate which remained in the family so late as 1810. 
No circumstances could be more conduaive to a true mental 
and moral development, and no happier ties of kindred 
could exist than those which waited on the opening years 
of Samuel J. May. He was allied to the best blood of his 
native state — historic in the grand old Commonwealth. 
His mother was the daughter of Samuel Sewall, of Boston, 
by his wil'c, Elizabeth Quincy, niece of Josiah Quincy, Jr., 
of glorious memory, and sister of the wife of John Han- 
cock. She w r as the lineal descendant of Chief Justice 
Sewall, of Salem, one of the first to suspect, and finally to 
expose the Witchcraft delusion. She was also the sister of 
a later Chief Justice, and the grand-daughter of the Rev. 
Joseph Sewall, pastor for many years of the ( >Ll South 
Church, a Calvinist divine of justly extended reputation. 

Joseph May, the father, designed to study for the minis- 
try, but was prevented from so doing by the breaking out 

mmmmwi sassamsmemMni 


of the Revolutionary war. lie engaged in business pur- 
suits, was Colonel of Militia in the famous "Boston Cadets," 
and Secretary, for forty years, of one of the earliest organ- 
ized Marine Insurance Companies in the country, and was 
highly esteemed for his integrity, exactness and charitable 
energies. He lived until 1841, dying at the age of eighty- 
one. As related to the religious bias and labors of his son, 
the most interesting feature of his career was his connec- 
tion, for nearly half a century, with King's Chapel, as one 
of its Wardens and most tenacious supporters. King's 
Chapel, left without a priest, by the flight of its tory in- 
cumbent, invited the Rev. James Freeman to conduct, as a 
Reader, its services. At the close of the Revolution, he 
was solicited to become its Rector, but upon applying to 
the Bishop for ordination, was unable to subscribe to the 
Thirty-Nine articles, as well as to certain observances of 
the Episcopal establishment, and being tinctured with the 
reputed heresies of Priestley, was denied the sacred rite. 
His congregation, nevertheless, endorsed his views, and 
themselves iustalled him. Thus was instituted the first 
Unitarian Church in America, to which Dr. Freeman min- 
istered until his death in 1S35, and Col. May gave his con- 
sistent aid, and from which Samuel J. received inspiration 
and instruction. Of the value of his early religious educa- 
tion Mr. May had the liveliest appreciation. He held it as 
one ol the chief blessings of his life that he was not devoted 
to the tenets of a stern creed and the terrible imaginings it 
imposes. He was a Liberal Christian, almost by intuition ; 
and hence experienced none of the pangs with which the 
conflict between the dogma of vengeance and the gospel 
of love tortures so many souls. 

Mr. May received his education, preliminary to entering 

college, at the Chauncy Hall School, famous for many 



years in Boston, and still flourishing. lie entered Harvard 
College in the fall of 1813, and graduated in 1817, with 

high rank in a class which has since, in many of its mem- 
bers, proved itself illustrious. Among its notable names 
are those of George Bancroft, Caleb dishing, Samuel A. 
Eliot, member of Congress from Massachusetts, and the 
father of President Eliot, George B. Emerson, a leading 
teacher and student of natural and social science, Samuel 
E. Sewall, a distinguished lawyer of Boston and cousin and 
chum of Me May, t!i3 Riv. Dr. Stephen II. Tyng, and the 
Rev. Dr. Alvaji Woods. The late Dr. Ilolyoke, of this city, 
was also a class-mate ; and in this connection we should 
not omit to mention one who achieved an ignoble fame — 
Robert Schuyler, the great defaulter. It is noteworthy 
that, in 1S60, fifty two years after graduation, nearly one- 
half of this class of sixty-seven members was alive — a con- 
vincing proof of its average moral worth. At the termin- 
ation of his academic course, and indeed before, Mr. May 
engaged in teaching at Hingham, Concord, Beverly and 
Xaliant, pursuing meantime his classical and theological 
studies, and becoming aroused to that deep interest in the 
cause of popular education which he ever maintained. 
Among his pupils at Nahant was the historian Motley, 
whom he instructed in the English language, if not in that 
of " the Dutch Republic." In the spring of ISIS, he en- 
tered the Divinity School at Cambridge, graduating in 1S20, 
and he was approbated to preach in December of that year. 
The School was then under charge of Dr. Henry Ware, 
Sen., who was assisted by Professors Norton, Frisbie and 
Willard, all clear-headed, keen-sighted and conscientious 
instructors. Of the manner of their teaching Mr. May 
gives the following exposition : " These gentlemen marked 
out for us a sufficient! v extended theological, as well as eth- 


ical and devotional course of reading ; but they perempto- 
rily dictated nothing except personal purity and righteous- 
ness, the diligent improvement of our advantages, and fidel- 
ity to our highest sense af the true and the right. They 
enjoined it upon us to examine every subject brought to 
our consideration thoroughly and as impartially as we were 
able in the various lights thrown upon it by the religious 
and theological writers of opposite sects, and to accept such 
conclusions as should, after such an examination, seem to 
our minds correct — remembering our responsibility to God 
alone, for the use we made of our opportunities to learn, and 
of the powers He had given us to judge of the true and the 

As indicative of the effect of such counsels upon himself 
we continue our quotation from the discourse delivered in 
the Church of the Messiah, in 1867, upon the occasion of 
his reaching his seventieth birthday : " Thus encouraged 
I entered upon the inquiry after true religion, fully persua- 
ded that it was the ' one thing needful ' for all men ; and 
longing to be a minister of it to my fellow beings, so many 
of whom seemed to me to be ' living without God in the 
world.' I was soon more than ever convinced that Christi- 
anity was the true religion ; but that a strange theology had 
been foisted into its place in Christendom ; substituted for 
it in most of the churches. It seemed to me self-evident, 
that Christianity was to be learnt from Jesus Christ ; that 
he must be the best teacher of his own religion ; that, if he 
be, as most Christians profess to regard him, ' the author 
and finisher of our faith,' nothing should be appended to 
the Gospel as he left it ; not even on the authority of Paul, 
Appollos, or Cephas; certainly not on the authority of St. 
Augustine, John Calvin, or the Tope, should anything be 



prescribed as essential, which is not perfectly consistent with 
the teaching of the Master. It seemed to me then, as it 
seems to me now, the highest impertinence, and most egregi- 
ous presumption, in any Doctor of Divinity, Assembly of 
Divines ( especially those who believe that Jesus was a super- 
human being, aye, the very God ), to prescribe a Creed, as 
comprising the essential faith, which is nowhere to be found 
in the words of the Master." 

Thus holding to personal purity of life, and placing him- 
self in the attitude of a seeker after truth, under the All- 
Father, he commenced the work of the ministry, serving as 
supply at Springfield, Mass., Brooklyn, Connecticut, and 
New York City, during the succeeding year. In 1821, he 
made a journey to Richmond, Va., preaching on his way at 
Baltimore, Washington, and other cities. In Washington, 
that abhorrence of u the peculiar institution," which soon 
became one of the strongest impulses of his life, as displayed 
in acts of daring and devotion, was aroused by seeing a 
coffle of slaves in the street. Returning to Boston, he be- 
came the temporary colleague of Dr. Channing, in the Fed- 
eral street pulpit, and in this connection continued several 
months. The intercourse with this gifted and fervent apos- 
tle of Liberal Christianity had a most energizing and sanctify- 
ing influence upon the ministrations of Mr. May, and he 
was accustomed to refer to it as of eminent benefit to him in 
many respects. Upon his part, Dr. Channing conceived a 
warm friendship for his youthful assistant, and maintained 
it until his death, delighting always to welcome and to 
counsel with him, even at times when their views upon pub- 
lic questions were somewhat divergent. While he was in 
Boston, he was invited to gather a church at Richmond, 
Virginia, and was strongly tempted to an enterprise which 


seemed to have many encouraging prospects ; but receiving 
a simultaneous call to Brooklyn, Conn., where was located 
the only Unitarian Church in that state, he deemed it his 
duty to accept the latter invitation. He had previously 
been ordained to the ministry by the Association of Boston 
el mrches, the ceremony being notable from the high stand- 
ing of the clergymen who officiated in it. It took place in 
Chauncy Place Church, March 13th, 1822, the Rev. Dr. 
Freeman preaching the sermon, the Rev. Dr. Channing giv- 
ing the charge, the Rev. Dr. Greenwood extending the 
right hand of Fellowship, and the Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., 
making the prayer of Ordination. On the succeeding Sab- 
bath he took charge of the church at Brooklyn ; from which 
time his settled labors in the ministry may be said to date. 

He lived in Brooklyn fourteen years, bringing a feeble 
church into a state of efficiency, impressing his personality 
upon his neighbors, and being prominently identified with 
every good work to which he could put his hand. Besides 
fulfilling the ordinal'} 7 duties of his parish, he edited a paper 
called The Liberal Christian, was a member ot the School 
Committee of the town, and did much to raise the standard 
of education in the state, giving lectures on the subject, 
and calling the first convention ever held to consider the 
question of popular education. He early took ground in 
favor of a less austere and more rational use of Sunday, 
against exclusiveness in the administration of the Lord's 
Supper, and against ritualistic methods in the church, dis- 
carding in a short time after his ordination the gown and 
bands then universally worn ; but an aged man having 
scruples about baptism, and believing on Scripture grounds 
that immersion was necessary to the validity of the rite, he 
consented to gratify his desire by entering a river with him, 



but addressed the meeting on coming out to the effect that 
a drop of water was sufficient to baptize a man whose heart 
was really consecrated, an ocean otherwise having no poten- 
cy. At this time, as always, his characteristic doctrine was 
that no form, or service, or profession, makes a man accepta- 
ble to God, but only the denying of all ungodliness and living 
soberly, righteously and piously in all the relations of life — in 
an adherence, so far as possible, to the precept of the Golden 

At Brooklyn Mr. May became actively interested also in 
the various reforms to which he afterwards gave so much of 
his thought and strength, and to which we shall hereafter 
allude, as a biography of him without including something 
of them would be singularly incomplete. On the first of 
June, 1825, he married Lucretia Flagge Coffin, daughter of 
Peter Coffin, a merchant of Boston, and had issue by her as 
follows: — Joseph, died in infancy; John Edward, now in 
business in Boston ; Charlotte Collin, wife of Alfred Wilkin- 
son, of this city; Joseph, minister of the Unitarian Church 
in Newlmryport, Mass.; and George Emerson, engaged in 
mercantile pursuits. The wedded life of Mr. May, was, we 
need not say, beautiful in the blended being of kindred 
souls — redolent with the perfume of affection, and blossom- 
ing in the sweetest charities. Mrs. May, known, honored, 
and loved in this community, has but recently passed away. 
( rentTe in disposition, retiring in manners, yet highly cultur- 
ed, firm in purpose, and thoroughly sympathizing with the 
aims of her husband, her kindly influence was felt in every 
circle in which she moved, and her supreme confidence in 
the righteousness of his labors sensibly nerved him to per- 
severe in their behalf. 

He resigned from Brooklyn in 1835 to accept the position 



of general agent of the Massachusetts Anti Slavery Society, 
in which he continued eighteen months, lecturing, writing 
and arranging conventions. Late in 1830, he was installed 
over the church at South Scituate, Plymouth county, Mass., 
remaining there for six years. lie at once took up his work 
in the same active and practical spirit which had before 
marked it. Under his administration the prosperity of the 
church was greatly enhanced, spiritually and temporally. 
Already recognized as a reformer, he continued his labors 
for Anti-Slavery, Peace, Temperance, Education and other 
worthy objects of his zeal. His house was the rendezvous 
for reformers of all kinds. Garrison, Phillips, Foster, 
Pillsbury, Abbj Kelly, Lucretia Mott, Douglass, Remond 
were all at home in the Scituate parsonage. Pie was the 
intimate friend and adviser of Horace Mann ; he organized 
societies for reform purposes, held anti-slavery conventions 
and temperance meetings, and lectured all through the 
eastern part of Massachusetts. Plymouth county he regard- 
ed as his parish, and was personally known and esteemed 
in all parts of it. At the same time, he was indefatigable 
in his ministerial work, an affectionate and devoted pastor; 
his memory is still green and fresh in the little town ; and 
his visits to it, which have been frequent of late, have al- 
ways been in the nature of ovations. 

In 1812, the position of principal of the Normal School 
fur female teachers at Lexington having became vacant 
through the illness of the incumbent, Hon. Horace Mann, 
then Secretary of the State Board of Education, urged the 
place upon Mr. May, and he accepted it, removing immediate- 
ly to Lexington and assuming control of the school ; but, 
within two years, the former principal recovering his health, 
Mr. May, though honored and useful in, and attached to 
the position, resigned in his favor, feeling it to be the right 



of liis predecessor to be reinstated. He was then invited 
to the charge of the Lexington parish and accepted the 
same temporarily. The church stood on sacred ground, 
within the region where the first fighting of the Revolution 
occurred, on the common where the villagers mustered to 
meet the red-coats and where the first volley of battle was 
fired. The spirit of conflict was not yet dead within the 
town. Theological differences raged within it, and Mr. 
May was called to a duty he often had to perform — the 
duty of peace-maker. A feud had completely alienated the 
sympathies of the two parishes into which the town was di- 
vided, growing out of a dispute concerning the proper dis- 
tribution of a church fund. Mr. May's was the old parish 
and (as is usual in the old towns of New England ) had be- 
come Unitarian, the adherents to the evangelical creed 
having seceded to form a new church. So bitter was the 
hostility of the two organizations that social amenities 
were almost disregarded among them. Mr. May, with that 
desire for peace which was one of his most prominent char- 
acteristics, at once applied himself to the settlement of this 
quarrel, and labored so successfully as to procure an equi- 
table adjustment of the matters in difference and a reconc lia- 
tion of the people. " Blessed are the peace-makers, for they 
shall be called the children of God." 

While Mr. May lived in Lexington there arose, in Boston, 
the famous Theodore Parker, then the leading thinker of 
the now so-called Radical theologians. Barker was, as is 
well known, though the minister of a Unitarian parish, 
completely ostracised by the clergy of Boston and treated 
by them in a manner particularly inconsistent with their 
peculiar gospel of personal mental freedom. Their conduct 
roused the indignation of Mr. May, who, at that time, coinci- 
ded in the theological views of Mr. Barker less clearly thai: 
at a later period ; bat he was sincere in his profession ot be- 

mmmmvw sa 


lief that every man must be fully persuaded in his own 
mind and had a right to speak his thought. lie wrote to 
Mr. Parker, expressing his sympathy with him and propos- 
ing an exchange of pulpits. Herein the broadness of that 
charity, which was the crowning grace of our friend's char- 
acter, thus early declared itself. Only two other Unitarian 
clergymen were as true to the principle of free thought as 
this. The result of Mr. May's proffer was a friendship close, 
affectionate and firm, which endured so long as Mr. Parker 

At the conclusion of his temporary engagement with the 
church of Lexington, Mr. May received an invitation from 
the school committee of Boston to become head master of 
one of its public schools. This offered him a favorable op- 
portunity to embrace a profession congenial to his taste and 
in which he had already distinguished himself. He strong- 
ly desired so to do, but was willing to consent only on the 
condition that his school should be excepted from the opera- 
tion of the " Franklin Medal" system, receiving, in lieu of 
the medals awarded for distribution in each school, an 
equivalent in money to be used in a way he should deem 
less objectionable. The committee replied, expressing their 
sympathy in his objections to this method of stimulation, 
but stating that the laws left them no discretion as to the 
Franklin Fund. He therefore declined the offer. 

In 1S43, Mr. May made a journey to Niagara, accom- 
panied by his wife, and was invited by the Rev. Mr. Storer, 
first pastor of the Unitarian Church in Syracuse, to occupy 
his pulpit for several Sundays. He thus became known to 
the members of this congregation, and, upon Mr. Storer's 
death, which sudden circumstance is vividly remembered 
by many of our citizens, was invited first to preach as a 


candidate and then to become its pastor — with what una- 
nimity the following letter attests : — 

Syracuse, March llth, 1S45. 

Dear Sir: — The meeting, of which we advised yon, was 
held to-day, and, on the other side, is a copy of a resolution 
which was unanimously adopted. In our society there is 
no diversity of opinion in respect to yourself, and we hope 
that you may not see cause to regret your coming among 
us. Will you he so kind as to advise us when we may ex- 
pect to see you here '. 

John Wilkinson, 
Hiram Putnam, F. Williston, 
To Rev. SamuelJ. May. Trustees. 

This call Mr. May accepted and preached for the first 
time as pastor of the church sometime in the April succeed- 
ing. The church, to which he was thus called, was as yet 
in its infancy, although its membership embraced some of 
the strongest men of the village. It was organized in 1837, 
embracing among its founders such names as E. F. Wal- 
lace, John Wilkinson, Hiram Putnam, -John Newell, Par- 
ley Bassett, Aaron Burt, Joseph Savage, .!. L. Bagg, D. P. 
Phelps, D. J. Morris, B. F. Colvin, C. F. Williston, dames 
(t. Tracy, M. M. White, E. d. Foster, (Aldington 1!. Wil- 
liams, Stephen Smith, Jared II. Parker and II. X. White. 
The Rev. J. P. B. Storer, a highly intellectual and much 
loved clergyman, had been its pastor from is:; 1 ,) until his 
death, of heart disease, in the summer of 1844. Origin- 
ally worshipping in a little wooden chapel on East Genesee 
street, on or near the site of the present Seymour Block, it 
had, in 1843, removed to a new and pleasant editicc on its 
present lot which, with additions and enlargements, lasted 
until it was destroyed by the falling of the spire in I 852, the 
present church being completed in 1853« 


It was not to be expected that a new-coming Unitarian 
minister would receive a cordial welcome from the clergy- 
men whose opposition had much tried the less resolute 
heart of his predecessor. Nor did he ; but to such opposi- 
tion he was already accustomed, and for it was fully prepar- 
ed. He took up his ministerial work with good heart, and 
met the sermons occasionally preached in denunciation of 
his theologicsl position with pretty constant expositions of 
what he found objectionable and abhorrent in the popular 
creeds ; and it was not long before his utter geniality con- 
quered the hearts, if it did not change the convictions, of 
his < Orthodox brethren. With the late Dr. Adams, who 
had strongly denounced him, lie, at last, contracted a friend- 
ship, sincere if not very demonstrative, and the good Doc- 
tor, upon his death-bed, sent for him and the} 7 had a long 
conference, a fact to which Mr. May was accustomed to 
refer with truly Christian pride. 

Of his pastoral labors we need not speak at length. In 
the hearts of his hearers they are forever enshrined. Under 
his watchful care, the church has steadily and gradually 
grown into a power in our midst. lie has gone out and in 
among its members for twenty-six years, blessing their chil- 
dren, marrying their young men and maidens, committing 
their dust to solemn sepulture — by all of them respected, 
loved, venerated as it has been the fortune of few pastors, 
in this age of the decadence of respect for the ministerial 
office, to be honored. Not a great pulpit orator, he 
was yet a singularly (dear writer, with terse and vigorous 
sentences often infused into the plainness of a narrative 
style. He rose ever to the eloquence of earnestness, and 
none might doubt the sincerity of the thought which guid- 
ed his pen. In every house of his parish he was a welcome 


guest ; received rather with the warmth ot regard which 
marks the affinity of blood. Thus strung in the pulpit and 
loved on the hearth stone, he rilled the years of his useful- 
ness in the ministry until the lengthening shadows of his 
life compelled him to decline its further responsibilities. 
On the 15th of September, 1867, he tendered to the church 
his resignation, — which was accepted on the 7th of October, 
with resolutions of the deepest respect and affection, a lib- 
eral annuity being voted him to take effect when his sue- 
tr should be installed. This was accomplished on the 
29th of April, 1868, when the Rev. Mr. Calthrop was re- 
ceived as pastor. On the 15th of September, 1SG7, upon 
the completion of his seventieth year, he preached "A Brief 
Account of his Ministry," to which we are indebted for 
many of the facts and suggestions of this biography, and 
from which we may be permitted to make a further quota- 
tion, as illustrating, in a small compass, the character of his 

" Thus it was, dear friends, that an acquaintance com- 
menced twenty-four years ago last month, which led to my 
settlement with yon in April, 1845, as your minister. What 
sort of a minister I should probably be, you were fairly 
warned, for during my visits, in 1843, and again during 
the four weeks that I preached to you as a candidate, in 
November and December, 1844, I lectured in the city twice 
on the immediate abolition of slavery ; once, on the para- 
mount importance of an improved system of popular edu- 
cation ; and orce, if I remember correctly, on the great ex- 
pediency, if not duty, of total abstinence from the use of 
any intoxicating drinks. Therefore, if you have been much 
disappointed in the character of my ministry here, you 
must blame your own want of discernment and not any 


concealment on my part.'' It may well be added that 
while it was a bold undertaking for a minister in this State, 
a quarter of a century ago, thus unreservedly to identify 
himself with these obnoxious reforms, in this church no root 
ot bitterness was planted by the efforts of its pastor; on 
the contrary he nurtured and tended the seed of his own 
sowing within it, and from a fruitful soil it sprang up and 
bore abundant fruit. Xo church can claim greater credit 
for efficient humanitarian labors than the Unitarian Society 
of Syracuse. He educated it up to his own standards. 

We have said that any sketch of Mr. May's life would be 
singularly incomplete without an allusion to his connection 
with the great refDrms of the day. Herein he was a 
pioneer and acquired a national reputation ; his philanthro- 
py was of the purest and most enlarged type ; but we may 
do little more than allude to it ; for, even if our space did 
not forbid a larger reference, we know that there are many 
intimately associated with him in various progressive move- 
ments who will do him fuller justice than we may hope to 
do, and who will be swift to bear their testimony to the 
worth of his counsels and the completeness of his consecra- 
tion. He was among the apostles of the gospel of anti-slavery. 
His disgust at the abuses of slavery, incited by personal 
observation of its enormities, developed, under the inspira- 
tion of William Lloyd Garrison, into an undying hostility, 
towards the institution of barbarism. So early as 1830 he 
preached anti-slavery sermons, to the annoyance of his good 
friends, Dr. Channing and the Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., and 
to the alarm of his father. He defended Prudence Cran- 
dall against an indictment, under a modern Connecticut 
" blue law," for teaching a school to which colored children 
were admitted. He was the, as we have shown, for 



nearly two years of the Massachusetts anti-slavery society, 
during which connection he was grievously persecuted for 
opinion's sake, being on several occasions mobbed — notably 
at Newburyport and Haverhill — and to our disgrace, be it 
said, burned in efligy in this city so late as 1861. He was 
a prominent member — and very proud was he of that mem- 
bership — of the Convention at Philadelphia which institut- 
ed the American Anti-Slavery Society, to whose constitu- 
tion, on the 6th of December, 1833, sixty-one devoted men 
signed their names. lie was one of the sub-committee 
which drafted the famous declaration of anti-slavery par- 
pose, William Lloyd Garrison and John G. Whittier being 
the other members, the principal labor of composition be- 
ing confided to Mr. Garrison. Thenceforth, Mr. May was 
one of the most earnest anti-slavery advocates in the land, 
speaking from pulpit and from rostrum upon every occasion 
when God gave him grace and man gave him an opportu- 
nity. No convention was complete without his presence, 
and no council chamber of the fiery-hearted leaders but re- 
lied upon his wisdom. His house was a principal depot of 
the underground railroad, and to his protection many hun- 
dreds of panting fugitives were consigned, whom he guided 
safely to a haven of rest and freedom, often after minister- 
ing to their pecuniary necessities from his slender purse. 
.Man of peace though he was, he became implicated in the 
rescue of the slave "Jerry," and, despising the law under 
which the iniquity of rendition was possible, would willing- 
ly have suffered stripes and imprisonment for the release of 
even the humblest bondmen. In 1809, lie published a vol- 
ume entitled, "Some Recollections of the Anti-Slavery 
Conflict,"" which has had an. extensive circulation, and is 
full of information concerning the trials of those earnest 


men to whom, under God, the nation is indebted for its de- 
liveranee from the burden of its sin. 

Mr. May had become interested in the question of peace 
while at College, by listening to addresses from Dr. Noah 
Worcester, and steadily bore his testimony against the nec- 
essity of war according to the convictions he then acquired. 
In 1S2G he formed an Auxiliary Peace Society in Brook- 
lyn, to co-operate with that of Dr. Worcester; and being 
elected chaplain if a Connecticut regiment, he declined 
the honor, telling the Colonel " he could not pray that they 
might do the very thing they would be mustered to do — 
but only that they might beat their swords into plow-shares 
and learn war no more." The first pamphlet he ever pub- 
lished was an " Exposition of the Sentiments and Purposes 
of the Windham County Peace Society," in 1820. It is 
believed, however, that his sentiments upon this subject be- 
came somewhat modified when secession culminated in 
treason and the nation rose to its feet to confront the foe in 
its own household. 

At an early day, also, he become opposed to capital pun- 
ishment. Being waited on by a sheriff to be present at the 
execution of an atrocious murderer, he enquired if the con- 
demned desired him to attend, and upon being told that he 
was invited on behalf of the State, he answered that he 
would not attend ; he would go if the criminal requested 
it as the sympathizing friend of a very wicked brother, but 
would in no way seem to countenance the State in doing 
what he thought the State had no right to do. The con- 
versation which followed so impressed the Sheriff that he 
declined to act as the executioner. Against judicial murder 
Mr. May remained constantly opposed during the rest of 
his life, preaching and writing against its enormity. 



In May, 1826, he attended the Boston Anniversaries and 
was present at a meeting of the Massachusetts Temperance 
Society, as also at a meeting of Unitarian ministers called 
to consider the subject of temperance. He had not pre- 
viously regarded it as wrong to drink wine in moderation, 
but was so much influenced by these discussions that he de- 
termined to discountenance the use of all intoxicants, — 
" lest he should cause his brother to offend." Returning 
home he received the hearty sympathy of his wife, and soon 
called public attention to the subject. He personally visit- 
ed every retailer of liquors in the town, to ascertain the 
amounts of liquor sold, and from the overseers of the poor, 
physicians and others, learned something of the disastrous 
effects of the traffic. The result was the adoption, under 
his leadership, by many individuals, of the rule of Total 
Abstinence and the formation of a society having its prin- 
ciples in view. Of his labors in this city in this direction 
we all know personally. He was one of the staunchest 
friends of this reform, joining a number of organizations 
pledged to its support, and one of his last public addresses 
was in its advocacy, before the Syracuse Christian Union, 
the address being published by its request in this journal. 

Latterly he had become much interested in the demand 
ot "Woman for Suffrage and interested himself in its en- 
forcement with all the fire of his youth. Of the immense 
labor all these reforms necessitated, of the travels, the 
correspondence, both foreign and domestic, of the numbers 
of speeches delivered, we have no reliable data. We know, 
however, that his activities were severely taxed to the very 
end, and that he had laid out an amount of work, literary 
and otherwise, which would have appalled an ordinary man 
of half his years. It is certainly to be regretted that an 
autobiography, which he had in contemplation, remains in an 
unfinished state. Mr. May had published much of a seen- 


lar and religious cast ; but little of it, however, in permanent 
form. His last publication was a pamphlet entitled " A 
Complaint against the Presbyterians and their Confession of 
Faith," which is very perspicuously written and is valuable 
as giving- evidence of the maintenance of his life-long views 
of the goodness of God. 

To write of Mr. May as a citizen is a grateful task. He 
was a minister who came out of his pulpit to mingle with 
his fellow men, bringing the meditations of the closet and 
the soul of good-will to bear upon the social problems which 
beset us all. lie came to us when we were a village ; he 
lived among us to see our population quintupled — a fair and 
prosperous city. He was as public-spirited as philanthropic. 
No improvement but had his sanction, no charity but had 
his encourgement. The Franklin Institute, the Historical 
Association, the Orphan Asylum, the Home, the Hospital, 
all called him their friend. jS t o differing creed could deter 
him from giving his aid to a noble enterprise. At our pub- 
lic meetings he was often present,whatever their object — pro- 
vided only it was commendable. His charities liowed in 
all directions — towards the Indians of our Reservation, the 
homeless boys who wander along our great artery of inland 
navigation, the victims of self-imposed or heaven-sent 
wretchedness at our doors. 

We have spoken of Mr. May's interest in the cause of 
popular education, elsewhere; it was here signally exhibited 
and, we believe, fully appreciated. Those of us, who were 
at school twenty years ago, remember how often his genial 
face beamed in upon our studies, and his words of advice 
encouraged us in our pursuits. Many of us then learned 
to love him — a love which has not been diminished by con- 
stant acts of kindness and of countenance since received. 
In 1864: he was elected, from the fourth ward, member of 


the Board of Education and by successive and unanimous 
re-elections continued therein for the ensuing- six years. 
Duriii"- the last live years of his service he was President 
of the Hoard. lie was faithful in attendance at its meet- 
ings and judicious in his selection of its committees, lie 
was thoroughly acquainted with the discipline and the 
studies of the schools, and with the character and qualifica- 
tions of their teachers. lie gave much of his time to a 
personal inspection of the schools, not only of his own 
ward, but also of the whole city, and his was ever a wel- 
come presence in the school room. He was greatly inter- 
ested in the High School, and to him is largely due the 
erection of its present magnificent building, and the compre- 
hensive range of studies there pursued, lie strenuously 
opposed corporal punishment, here as everywhere, and to 
no man in the country may greater credit be awarded for 
the gentler modes of correction which have nearly banished 
the foolscap and the birch from systems of education. As 
a memorial of his labors the "May School" was named in 
his honor by his associates — and, we believe, he would ask 
for no more suitable monument. .Nor should we forget 
the interest he manifested in the education of the very lit- 
til ones, the " Kindergarten " system particularly commend- 
in"- itself to his judgment, as a promising advance upon 
the arbitrary methods yet in vogue. 

And now, as we write our last words, we would if possi- 
ble have our pen touched, as by an angel, to fitly note 
the gracious character itself of which the record we have 
sketched is but the outward expression ; but words are cold 
and speech is lifeless here. There was no man of truer con- 
victions, of more generous impulses, of a nobler selt-aban- 
donment than he. His charities were as countless as the 



dewdrops glistening on the meadows of morning ; his sym- 
pathies as pervasive as the objects towards which they could 
be directed. A zealot, he had none of the zealot's bitter- 
ness ; a reformer, he had not the reformer's caustic tongue ; 
a theologian of pronounced views, he had none of the the- 
ologian's regard for sect. True to his own flesh and blood, 
he was yet everybody's friend. Simple in his habits, con- 
fiding in his nature, sometimes imposed upon through the 
very excess ot his philanthropy, no man but respected him 
for the possession of the most sterling qualities of head as 
well as of heart. Now that the asperities of the conflicts 
in which he was engaged are hushed in the triumph of 
nearly all the principles for which he contended, we believe 
there is no man living who will cherish an envious or a hos- 
tile feeling over this new-made grave. Utterly free from 
envy himself, he paid most generous tribute to the talents 
and the good works of his fellows. In the fullness of years, 
with intellect unimpaired, with affections undiminished, with 
a record lustrous for its accomplishment and beautiful in its 
spirit, with the regard of all who had heard of him, and 
the veneration of all who knew him, he has been gathered 
to the fathers, and taken his place among that goodly com- 
pany who "by pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, 
by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the 
word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of right- 
eousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and 
dishonor, by evil report and good report,'' have entered into 
the rest of the faithful. To use his own words, he had 
learned life's lesson, and had gladly turned the page to see 
what there is on the other side. Upon us his life falls like 
:i benediction, gracious and gentle, from the hands of the 
Father Supreme. ^Tay it be given us to live as in its pre- 
sence, and to assimilate in our characters something of its 
essence ! 




A very largely attended meeting of the members of the 
Church of the Messiah and of that Society, was held Mon- 
day evening July 3d, to take action in regard to the death 
ot the late Rev. Samuel J. May. 

Dr. Lyman Clary was called to the chair, and Mr. P. II. 
Agan was made Secretary. 

Mr. C. D. B. Mills moved the appointment of a com- 
mittee of three to draft resolutions, and the motion being 
carried, the Chair appointed Messrs. C. D. I>. Mills, D. P. 
Phelps end P. II. Agan as such committee. 

The committee subsequently reported the following series 
of resolutions : — 

Resolved, That in the death of Rev. Samuel J. May, our 
Society has lost from our midst a widely-known, greatly 
gifted and loved religions teacher; one endeared to us by 
many and most tender associations, who was, through years 
reaching back to the very beginnings of our existence as a 
religious society, its faithful, most affectionate and devoted 
pastor, and who has laid us all under a debt never to be re- 
paid, but always to be most gratefully and tenderly remem- 


Resolved, That in his death our community has lost one 
of its most public-spirited, philanthropic and generously 
useful citizens, magnanimous and self-sacrificing without 
end — and laimanitij itself the world over has lost a warm 
and untiring friend. Of him it may be truly said, he was 
a brother to all mankind. 

Resolved, That the exalted virtues of our departed friend, 
so marked, so bounteous and so rare, deserve well to be cele- 
brated and kept in perpetual record, and we rejoice that we 
may hold and commend these as the legacy he has left us, 
inestimably rich and precious, the imperishable possession 
and sacrament to be appropriated for quickening, before 
which all may well feel incited to seek to attain something 
of that high self-sacrifice and untiring devotion to human 
kind for which he was distinguished. 

Resolved, That we tender our warm sympathies to the 
stricken family, the descendants and all the kindred of our 
brother, invoking for them the kind consolations and sup- 
ports of Heaven in this their hour of sorrow, and we point 
them not without joy to the assurance that a soul that has 
wrought so faithfully and signally well, has, beyond perad- 
venture, gone to its large reward. 

Resolved^Hhsit we hereby authorize and instruct the trus- 
tees of this society, in conjunction with a committee of 
three, to be appointed to act in concert with them, to cause 
to be placed in the walls of the church, a tablet suitably in- 
scribed to the name and memory oi Mr. May. 

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed in be- 
half of our society to take, after conferring with the family 
of the deceased, and in consonance with their wishes, such 
steps as may be deemed requisite for providing for the 
funeral services. 

Before the resolutions were put to vote, short and feeling 
addresses were made by Messrs. C. D. B. Mills, C. B. Sedg- 
wick, S. II. Calthrop, D. P. Phelps, and II. L. Green, of 
the society, and on invitation, by the He v. E. W. Mundy, 
and Charles E. Fitch. While none of the addresses were 
labored, all bore testimony to the moral and intellectual 



worth of the deceased, a worth indeed whose eulogy cannot 
find expression in words. The following committees were 
then appointed : — 

To prepare and decorate the Church for the funeral : — II. 
N. White, J. IT. Clark, O. V. Tracy, Mrs. Church. Mrs. E. 
A. Putnam, Mrs. E. P. Howlett and Mrs. D. F. Gott. 

On the tablet:— Mm. Dr. Clary, Mrs. W. B. Smith, and 
Mrs. O. T. Burt. 

To confer with the family concerning the arrangements 
for the funeral : — E. B. Judson, C. B. Sedgwick, C. F. 
Williston, C. D. B. Mills and J. L. Bagg. 

The funeral was announced to take place from the Church 
of the Messiah, on Thursday, July 6th, at 2 1-2 P. M., and 
the meeting adjourned. 


The following resolutions, adopted by the members of a 
Jewish congregation, are so honorable to them, and express 
so feelingly the common sentiment which pervades all classes 
of the community, that we make them an exception, and 
give them a place in this memorial. 

At a special meeting of the Society of Concord, in Syra- 
cuse, held at the vestry rooms on the evening of July 5th, 
the death of the late Rev. Mr. May was announced, and a 
committee on resolutions appointed, consisting of Messrs. 
Jacob Straus, I. Henry Danziger and Bernhard Bronner. 
The committee reported the following preamble and resolu- 
tions, which were unanimously adopted by the meeting: — 

Whereas, It has pleased our Almighty Father to call hence 
to a better life in heaven our esteemed fellow citizen, the 
Pev. Samuel J. May, be it therefore 



Resolved, That in the death of the Rev. Samuel J. May, 
the State has lost one of its most eminent citizens, the com- 
munity one of its truest philanthropists, the church one of its 
most liberal pillars, and mankind at large the noblest speci- 
men of a man, who devoted his life to all that is pure and 
holy in the eyes of God and man. 

Resolved, That while we bow in humble submission to 
the decrees of Providence, we hereby extend our heartfelt 
sympathies to the bereaved relatives of the deceased. 

Resolved, That this Society in a body, attend the funeral 
obsequies of the lamented departed. 

Resolved, That these proceedings be placed on our record 
and published in the daily papers of the city, and that a 
copy duly engrossed be handed to the bereaved relatives of 
the deceased. 





On the morning of Thursday, July Oth, there was a pri- 
vate service at Mr. Wilkinson's house. Rev. Frederic Froth- 
inghain read appropriate passages of Scripture. Rev.W. P. 
Tilden prayed, and Air. A. Bronson Alcott made an address 
of indescribable beauty, delicacy and tenderness. Not long 
afterwards the household re-assembled to listen to the rem- 
iniscences of Mr. George B. Emerson, Itev. "YV. P. Tilden, 
and others. Mr. Emerson spoke of his early and ever-grow- 
ing love for Mr. May, of their college-life, and of the de- 
lightful Sunday evenings which he had spent with him at 
Col. May's house in Boston. Mr. Emerson stated that Mr. 
May received his first anti-slavery impressions from Daniel 
Webster's denunciation of the Slave Trade, and his elo- 
quent allusion to the duty of the pulpit to speak out cou- 
cerning its sin and shame, in his memorable oration at 
Plymouth. Mr. Emerson believes that in going to Brook- 
lyn, Conn., and declining calls to other places, Mr. May was 
o-overned by the consideration that in worldly goods it was 
the poorest parish, and less likely to obtain a desirable pastor. 



la accordance with a very generally expressed wish that 
it should be so done, the body enclosed in a metallic casket, 
was, at 10 o'clock, removed to the Church of the Messiah, 
which loving hands had fittingly decorated, and placed be- 
fore the pulpit, from which he had spoken so many faithful 
and earnest words. The doors of the Church were opened, 
and from that hour until the time appointed for the service, 
great numbers of persons of all classes, conditions and creeds, 
came forward to take a last look of that benevolent, loving 
face, and pay their last respects to the venerated friend. 
Every seat in the church that had not been reserved for the 
family and pall-bearers was occupied some time before the 
hour appointed for the services. The porch was crowded, 
and the stairway and yard outside were also tilled with the 
old and the young, the rich and the poor, all eager to join 
in doing honor to the name and memory of the beloved dead. 
On either side of the altar were seated the city and other at- 
tending clergy, and in slips in front were the members of the 
Board of Education, of which Mr. May was for several years 
President. Inside of the altar sat four aged pall-bearers, 
who were personal friends : George Wansev, Captain Hiram 
Putnam, Joseph Savage and E. 13. Culver. At ten minutes 
before three o'clock the family and friends entered the church 
preceded by the officiating clergy and other pall-bearers, — 
Mayor F. E. Carroll, E. B. Judson, C. 15. Sedgwick, James 
L. Bagg, Dr. II. B. Wilbur, Hon. Dennis McCarthy, Dr. 
Lyman Clary and N. F. Graves. The pulpit was occupied 
by Rev. S. R. Calthrop, William Lloyd Garrison, Bishop 
Loguen, C. D. B. Mills and Rev. T. J. Mutnibrd. 


As the procession entered the church, the organ, at which 



Prof. Ernest Held presided, gave forth a voluntary, after 
which the choir sang 

" Cast thy burden on the Lord, 

And He will sustain thee and comfort thee." 

Rev. S. R. Calthrop then offered prayer. 

Infinite Father, God of Jight and love, we are assembled 
here to-day to thank Thee for everything. We bless Thy 
name for the beautiful world Thou has given ns. We 
thank Thee for all the kindly relations between man and 
man, and for the tender family ties that Thon hast given 
ns. Here, in the midst of tears, we bless Thee for death ; 
for that beautiful angel of Thine whom Thon dost send to 
each of us in turn, saying, with silent and gentle voice, "Son 
or daughter, come up higher!" And so, O Father, while 
many hearts shall feel a weariness to-day, and all shall feel 
that something noble has gone out of the world, we, never- 
theless, with the spirit of him who lies here, bless Thy name 
that Thou hast received him to Thyself. He loved Thee in 
this world, and did try with all the might that was in him 
to do Thy will here. He saw Thy face here, and rejoiced 
in it, and would that all men would rejoice in the same. Fath- 
er we bless Thee for the benediction of his life and thank Thee 
that Thou didst put it into his heart to be such an one. In 
the name of him who lies silent before us, we bless Thee 
for the true and beautiful influences that taught him to be a 
Christian and a true man. Above all, in duty to him, we 
thank Thee for the beautiful manifestations of love that he 
saw in Jesus Christ. We thank Thee for all that Jesus was to 
him personally. We thank Thee that the shadow of that beau- 
tiful cross fell on his life, a mingled command and benedic- 
tion, and that he took it up and carried it all his days. We 
thank Thee, Father in heaven, that as Jesus was so he strove 
to be in this world ; with humble heart, never thinking that 
he had obtained, nevertheless, pressing toward the mark 
ever. We thank Thee that Thou didst put it into his heart 
to love the poor that Jesus loved ; that he did take up the 
cause of the oppressed as a precious legacy from the Mas- 
ter's hand ; that he desired ever, as Jesus did, to go about 
doing good ; to put down the kingdom of wrong, and to 


establish the kingdom of right ; to minister to the poor, the 
fatherless, the oppressed and them that had no helper. We 
thank Thee for the large, noble heart of this man, who said 
that all mankind was his brother. We pray Thee, dear 
Father, that, as the light has been so plainly manifested be- 
fore ns, we may be led to love it more ourselves, lest 
town and country may feel shrunken because one 
just man has gone. O, Father, send down his spirit 
upon us, and grant that we may take up the work 
just where he laid it down, with thanksgiving to Thee that 
we are for Thy sake, and for man's to do it. We thank 
Thee for all these things, in the name of him who was the 
leader, the teacher, the brother of him, who has gone up 

Rev. T. J. Mumford, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, one 
of Mr. May's early students, read appropriate selections of 

The Rev. Mr. Calthrop gave out, and the choir sang the 
370th hymn * 

While tliee I seek, protecting Power ! 

Be my vain wishes stilled ; 
And may this consecrated hour 

With better hopes lie filled. 

Thy love the powers of thought bestowed ; 

To thee my thoughts would soar ; 
Thy mercy o'er my life has flowed — 

That mercy I adore ! 

In each event of life, how clear 

Thy ruling hand 1 sec ! 
Each blessing to my soul more dear, 

Because conferred bj thee. 

*This Hymn, and all the other Hymns read and sung during the ser- 
vices, were favorites of Mr. May's, and were selected for the occasion on 
that account. 



Addresses were then made by Mr. C. D. B. Mills and 

others, as follows : 


We are here together to-day, friends, to testify to one 
c >m:non grief. All are mourners, each one carries in his 
bosom se v ise of personal bereavement. 

We have come, not as is often the wont, as outside friends 
or neighbors, to gather around a stricken family in the hour 
<>f their sorrow, to offer our respect to the memory of a 
deceased acquaintance, and perform the last oiliecs for one 
who, however well regarded or even in general way esteem- 
ed, was of no near relation or special importance to us. 
No, we are here ourselves as one bereaved family. Our 
several households have been entered, our several circles 
broken, our community, society itself, has suffered a deep, 
an irreparable loss, and ever)* heart feels the pang of the 
separation. All ages grieve, the children with the adults, 
for this brother was not less dear to the heart of tenderest 
childhood than to the intelligence, the affection of maturest 
years. If only those who were simply friends were to speak 
on this occasion, sympathizers, not mourners, I think no 
lips would be opened here to day. And beyond the bounds 
of this large congregation, there is another, far larger, un- 
gathered, unseen to the ej T e, but one with us in feeling, in 
sense of the deep and overbearing sorrow. 

For a great soul has departed, one widely related and 
deeply knit to human hearts, wherever seen and known. 
What a generous nature was his, that went out in devotion 
and love to all his kind, that was friend to humanity, and 
drew in warmest, sympathy and ceaseless kindly oilice to all 




subjects of suffering, or of want or of sorrow ! His love 
was universal, and it never chilled, never wearied. Noth- 
ing could discourage or alienate him, or reduce his faith in 
the good possibilities. The instances of his fine benefac- 
tions, his aid by counsel and by hand, for most part silent 
and unknown save to the subject and himself, in our city 
alone, no one now can begin to enumerate, and probably in 
full they will never be known to any. Many and many a 
one he has saved from sense of friendlessness, from the hard 
pressures, from discouragement and surrender to the fear- 
ful temptations. He kept open door, he spread bountiful 
table, freely inviting all the poor and heavy laden, and none 
who came went empty away. We hear that of the Indian 
Logan, chief of the Mingoes in the last century, sitting 
(juietly in his home, and refusing all participation in the 
wars which his countrymen waged against the whites, the 
red men were wont to say as they passed the cabin, There 
dwells the friend of the white man. I think that through 
all these years, upon the door of that house on yonder 
slope, might have been written, Here dwells the friend of 
all men. 

This man has left no real estate behind, but I deem the 
estate he does leave is far more real than any lands or 
structures that earth affords. lie has left no iron safe well 
filled with bonds, with scrips of stocks accounted of such 
value among men, but the stocks he transmits are far 
more precious and enduring, deposited in stronger safe, — 
the human heart. So rich a man, leaving such legacies 
of wealth, not for one or for few, but for all, has never died 
from our midst before. 

His charity beginning at home and doing all possible in 
the humble every day relations, did not stop there. His 
benevolence was d illusive and wide reaching as the race. 



The broad humanities of his soul brought him inevitably 
into connection with the great reforms of the time, partic- 
ularly the Anti-Slavery, Temperance and Woman's Rights. 
One of the very first to espouse the cause of the slave, as 
one here present* doubtless will tell you, more fitly and fully 
than I can, he labored with unswerving devotion and at 
great personal cost to the end. His earnest unsparing ap- 
peals, his urgent, hearty incitements to duty, have been 
among the most effective in this memorable anti-slavery 
conflict. And when at length emancipation came, he was 
alert to meet promptly its responsibilities ; he gave freelj r 
his energies and his substance to provide for the education 
and enlightenment of the newly freed. Any enterprise 
that sought the improvement of man found in him a cordial 
friend and helper ; he labored for prison reform, for peace, 
for popular education, for the reclamation by kindliest 
methods of juvenile offenders, for the interests of the work- 
ing man, just wages to all, to man and to woman alike for 
all faithful performance. And with all this he was a most 
untiring and devoted preacher and pastor, an honor to the 
denomination to which he belonged, a constant powerful 
worker everywhere in behalf of religious enlightenment 
and emancipation, for a true and liberal faith, an J most of 
all a noble worthy life. 

But a warm quenchless benevolence and spirit of generous 
self-sacrifice, were not our brother's sole characteristic. He 
held in blending with them other qualities which went to 
temper and perfect them, and built up one harmonious, bal- 
anced, perfect character. With all the fine sensibilities, 
the tenderness, affection, and deeply sensitive nature of 
woman, he united those traits, which, essential to all strength 

* Mr. Garrison. 



and completeness, belong more particularly to the sever- 
er temperament of man. He had stern, unblenching 
courage. He knew not shrinking or fear. In presence of 
danger or overawing threat he could be, he always was, as 
upstanding and unmoved as a soldier. In his urgent ad- 
vocacy of the cause of the slave, he was not seldom 
brought into relations of exposure, sometimes of imminent 
personal peril, yet such a thing as intimidation or surrender 
was never in his thought. I have seen him when assailed, 

" Patient and meek he stood ; 
His ioes ungrateful, sought his life- 
He labored for their good." 
" The sandal tree, most sacred tree of all, 
Perfumes the very axe which bids it fall." 

And to more dangerous influences, bland seductions dis- 
suasions of friends, that would tone down his zeal and 
withdraw him from undivided devotion to this path, which 
to him was the path of duty, albeit beset with many 
thorns, his ear was deaf. His heart loving and tender 
everywhere, here was steel. Such fine poise and blending 
of the different qualities, such happy union of the elements 
that make up fullness and strength of character, is very 
seldom found. 

It did not seem to us that he could ever die. His aims 
implied an unending activity among us, and his labors 
were part of the plan of the world ; they took hold on the 
forever. The familiar beaming face, the musical accents 
of the voice — we counted upon them as confidently to be 
ours at short intervals as the rising of the sun or the 
courses of the seasons. Why should so loved and inspiring 
a sMit so indispensable to our own life and quickening, 
ever go away ? 


And yet we knew also that death must come. 

''By cool Siloam's shady rill, 
The lily must decay." 

And this lily of human life, the lily man, fairest ot all 
the blooms that ever put forth from the bosom oi the earth, 
— this must full quickly fade and perish. Death has taken 
this fine flower also for its own, and we can see and know 
it no more. We have now henceforth to speak in the past 
tense. The wistful, anxious thought asks, Why ; asks, 
Where, O where brother, art thou gone, but the eternities 
are silent. 

We know that his life had solidity with the foundation 
of the heavens, that he cannot drop out of the universe, 
that wherever worlds are with their laws of justice, benefi- 
cence, love, there he dwells at home ; that wherever and 
whatever he be, he is in the bosom and warm embrace of 
the infinite Love. For his spirit here was lovingly set to 
the music of the skies, he was wedded to the everlasting. 

Too grateful we cannot be that he remained with us so 
long, that tor more than a quarter of a century our city has 
had the light of that saintly presence, pouring its benigni- 
ties into all eyes, shedding the dawn of worthier ambitions, 
some touch of nobler aspirations and better resolve into 
every heart. Who will not give thanks for all that had 
to do with introducing him here, the religious society that 
invited, the friends that encouraged, the influences that de- 
termined his choice ( Who will not bless those ances- 
tors, the John May that in youth migrated and settled at 
Itoxbury, the Sewalls and Quincys of the olden days, that 
they so wed, so bore and reared offspring, that in due 
time there' might be such parentage to fruit in such 
a son '; Who not bless that quiet, but most ster- 



ling and accomplished mother, leaving so deeply the 
stamp of her affection upon him ; that kindly father, "war- 
of King's Chapel," who with such care and skill 
guided the tender years, watchful to encourage, not to cross 
or mar the generous instincts, to bring out to full and per- 
fect bloom this delicate, noble flower \ We all had stake 
there, my friends, and the following future lay wrapped up 
in those childhood days, largely in the nurture to that little 
boy of the courtly, but tender and loving father. 

But an end to eulogy. It easily becomes excessive and 
in effect harmful, resting absorbed in the person rather than 
regarding the character, dwelling in the history rather than 
the idea, the reality greater than history, which transcend; 
all. This mortal has put on immortality. We have to do 
now with the ethereal. Samuel J. May was of worth to us 
most especially, not for what he historically was, but for 
what in him was hinted, tor the intimation we saw there 
of the infinite and unseen. There was symbolism and the 
worth was in the thing behind the symbol. Any scripture, 
the highest and largest, is but a fragment of the universal 
volume. The divinest souls that have lived were but 
broken lights through which shone, somewhat refracted and 
diffracted & withal, a little ray, a tiny beam of the effulgence 
and the beauty of God. Jesus was but a hint of the unex- 
plored and unimagined possibilities. 

It was to intimate to us something of this that our 
friend came. He was sent from God. It was a repast to 
which we were invited, furnished in most bountiful profu- 
sion, every nourishment, every delicacy. Our brother gave 
himself to us, in mystic sense his own body and blood, all 
that he had or was, that we might eat not to enjoy and to 
slumber, bat to gather strength wherewith to rise up and 

do. It was an evening's entertainment at the house of a 
friend, where the conversation of the guest that had dropped 
in was so tine, we were transported, lifted and ravished 
away ; the lung hours were beguiled, and ere we were aware 
the night was spent. We deemed that an angel had spoken 
to us, and so it was. 

"He spoke and words more soil than rait), 
Brought back the age of gold again ; 
His actions won such reverence sweet, 
As hid all measure of the feat." 

But our stranger guest, mysteriously coming, mysterious- 
ly disappearing, has gone, and we look for him farther in 
vain. As the lightning, which appeareth in the east, shin- 
eth unto the west for the instant, so also is the coming of 
the son of man. That memorable evening is past, the 
crisp morning is upon us, and we are bidden, man, woman, 
each for most part alone, forth and abroad to translate and 
to realize. 

God's volume of revelation and of message is never 
closed. We have read of these things in books, great deeds, 
saintly divine lives, souls that made earth celestial, have 
heard them celebrated in poetry and song, treasured them 
in our imagination and beheld them as of days more glori- 
ous, more blessed than ours. They were not to be in the 
realities of our experience. They were of the romance that 
glowed in the ages long departed. But this man, modest, 
unassuming, claiming nothing, professing only to be a hum- 
ble follower of Jesus, treading at remote distance in his 
footprints, — in respect to the great qualities, in sweetness, 
poise, love and self-sacrifice, certainly approximated if he 
did not equal that Master, who to his thought was peerless. 
The life seemed to itself sc unsufficing, so infinitely short of 
its own ideal. Yet we now can see, remembering withal 



the human limitations, that here again the heavens have 
hended to the earth. 

I have heard that this earth is ameliorating, that however 
slowly, surely, consuming if need he untold seons of time, 
it is moving to its destiny, to become purified and ripened, 
finely fit for the abode of man. That the volcanos are be- 
coming extinct, are less numerous and less violent to-day than 
of old, that the nether explosive fires are burning out. That 
compensating, absorbing agencies are at work, neutralizing 
the poisons, and rendering more wholesome and life-sustain- 
ing the air. Recent science tells us that certain fragrant es- 
sences, that fine blooms like the narcissus, heliotrope, mig- 
nonette, lily, co-operate with the strong angels phosphorus 
and electricity, to sweeten and vitalize the atmosphere, nay 
that they may disinfect the marsh, and swallow and trans- 
mute the poisonous emanations. One loves to think there 
must be constant advance and increase, more ozone in the 
air to-day, more life in the sunbeam. 

So, on the moral earth too, is amelioration. P.looms of saint- 
ly souls through all the ages have purified and enriched this 
atmosphere, absorbed the poisons and exalted the vital condi- 
tions. Human affection has been purer and sweeter since 
Jesus lived and loved, and the upward way grows easier, 
since so many true have pressed there with eager feet, 
enduring the cross, despising the shame. 

We also are called to work in the same glorious line. 
Each one of us, however narrow his sphere, may do some- 
what towards the grand accomplishment. Each may lie at 
least a humble lily of the valley, to help to renew and re- 
cover some little district of this still much infected domain. 

Consecrated by this grave, reverting to the luminous life 
we see here, — closed now but also unclosed, transplanted, 
transfigured, a star in the skies henceforth, — alas for us if 


we feel not the heavenly quickening, if we rise not this day 
to a higher devotion, a larger fervor of noble living than 
we had ever known or even thought before ! 


If I have ever coveted that rare gift of speech, whereby 
the deep emotions of the soul are enabled to find something 
like an adequate expression, I do so on this occasion. But, 
alas! by no command of language can I hope to do any 
justice to myfeelings or to your own. We are participat- 
ing in common, in a great beravement. These mourning 
children have lost one of the best of fathers, one of the 
wisest of counsellors and guides. I have lost a most affec- 
tionate and unswerving friend, an early and untiring co- 
worker in the broad field of freedom and humanity, a broth- 
er beloved incomparably beyond all blood relationship. 
Syracuse has lost one of its most useful and esteemed citi- 
zens ; the nation one of the worthiest of its sons; the world 
one of the purest, most philanthropise, most divinely actua- 
ted of all its multitudinous population. In him all the 
elements of goodness, mercy and truth were so equally 
blended as to form a character as perfect and beautiful as 
it is in the scope of ages to produce. What could surpass 
his habitual gentleness and tenderness of spirit, the modesty 
of his nature, his self-abnegation, his moral intrepidity, in 
times of fiery trial, his inflexible adherence to fundamental 
principles, his ready espousal of every righteous cause, in 
conflict with a corrupt overmastering public sentiment, his 
compassionate sympathy for every phase of human degrada- 
tion and misery, his generous disposition to relieve the 
necessities of the poor and needy, his varied labors to estab- 
lish the kingdom of righteousness in the earth ? Like Job, 
"he was a perfect and upright man, one who feared God, 




and eschewed evil ; so that when the ear heard him, it bless- 
ed him ; when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him ; 
because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, 
and him that had none to help him. The blessings of him 
that was ready to perish, came upon him ; and he caused 
the widow's heart to sing for joy. lie was eyes to the blind, 
and feet was he to the lame, and the cause which he knew 
not, he searched out." Never was a portraiture more ac- 
curately drawn than this ; and if our departed friend had 
been the first to sit for it, it could not have been more strik- 
ingly exact in all its lineaments. Some of his other dis- 
tinguishing characteristics are felicitously portrayed by 
Wordsworth, in his description of the " Happy Warrior," 
as one 

" Who comprehends his trust, and to the same 

Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim ; 

And therefore does not stop, nor lie in wait 

For wealth or honor, or for worldly state ; 

Whom they must follow,: on whose head must fall, 

Like showers of manna, if the}' come at all ; 

Whose powers shed round him in the common strife, 

Or mild concerns of ordinary life, 

A constant influence, a peculiar grace ; 

But who, it he be called upon to face 

Some awful moment to which heaven has joined 

Great issues, good or bad, for human kind, 

Is happy as a lover ; and attired 

With sudden brightness, like a man inspired ; 

And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law 

Iu calmness made, and sees what he foresaw ; 

Or if an unexpected call succeed, 

Come when it will, is equal to the deed ; 

Whom neither shape of danger can dismay, 

Nor thought of tender happiness betray ; 

Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth 

For ever, and to noble deeds give birth, 

Or he must go to dust without his fame, 

And leave a dead, unprofitable name, 


Finds comfort in himself and in Ins cause ; 
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws 
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause ;— 
This is the happy warrior ; this is he 
Whom every man in arms should wish to be." 

Such, in the very letter and spirit, was Samuel Joseph 
May. Witness half a century of active participation in all 
the leading reforms of the age ! Witness the temptations, 
trials, sacrifices, perils to which he willingly subjected him- 
self in the service of the enslaved millions at the South, 
until it was granted unto him to see their fetters broken 
and to join with them in singing the- song of jubilee ! 

It is now more than forty years since I made his acquain- 
tance, and happily secured his friendship, the value of which 
to me, subsequent^, proved to be beyond all price. I shall 
always gratefully remember that he was among the very 
earliest to take me by the hand, and bid me God speed in 
my labors for the immediate and unconditional abolition of 
American Slavery. In his printed " Recollections of the 
Anti-Slavery Conflict," he generously acknowledges his 
deep indebtedness to me on hearing my first lectures on 
slavery in Boston, in the autumn of 1830— adding that they 
gave a new direction to his thoughts — a new purpose to his 
ministry. However that may have been, I am sure that I 
have felt far more indebted to him ; for, without his en- 
couraging words and zealous co-operation, I should have 
lost much of the inspiration that enabled me to battle per- 
sistently against all opposing forces. At that time, the 
pastor ot a small Unitarian church in Brooklyn, Conn., and 
the occupant of the only Unitarian pulpit in that State, he 
had no slight cross to bear, no inconsiderable amont of theo- 
logical odium to confront on account of his alledged doctiiti- 
al heresies ; and he therefore might have plausibly pleaded 

nniwimMMiiii ■iii i nma««w«Miiiiiw»iniii ii i mm in im i mni 




that he had already as heavy a load as he could well carry, 
without espousing any other disreputable issue. But it was 
not in his nature to consult expediency where duty was 
plainly revealed ; nor to measure the amount of proscrip- 
tion he was willing to bear for righteousness sake. If it 
must be so, he was ready to be branded as a fanatic or an 
incendiary, as he had been a heretic. No "son of thunder" 
was he, indeed, but eminently a "son of consolation ;" yet 
to the mildness of a John, lie united the firmness and moral 
courage of a Paul, when called to meet the solemn issues of 
the times. Avoiding all violations of good taste, and wisely 
circumspect in his utterances, he nevertheless could speak 
in such tones of rebuke and warning as to make the ears of 
hardened transgressors tingle, and at the same time was 
quiek to perceive where simple entreaty might be effec- 
tually substituted for harsh impeachment. He had no taste 
for controversy as such; no man disliked it more. "As 
much as he lieth in you, live peacefully with all men, 1 ' was 
with him a favorite apostolic injunction ; and he continually 
overflowed with the milk of human kindness. But he felt 
none the less sensibly the obligation to "declare the whole 
counsel of God/ 1 as revealed to his own soul, whether men 
would hear or whether they would forbear. What he 
sought to know, was the truth ; what lie stood ready at all 
odds to maintain, was the right. If he was a heretic, he had 
still unwavering faith in God; if he was on any occasion a 
disturber of the peace, it was only in the sense in which 
prophets and apostles, saints and martyrs have been ; if he 
stood in a minority, sometimes alone, it was because he 
could not be tempted by any consideration to go with the 
multitude to do evil. His standard of judgment was very 
simple, and, so far as speculative theology was concerned, 
broadly catholic. "I ask not, 1 ' to quote his own language, 


" what may be a man's profession or faith ; I ask net what 
may be a man's creed or system of theology ; I ask only 
whether he gives unequivocal evidence of his fidelity to 
God, and his love of the Father, by his fidelity to the right, 
and his love of the brethren, especially his poor brtthren" 
And, truly, in the light of such an example as he set, of 
such a life as he lived, how worthless is every sectarian 
shibboleth ! Men are to be known by their fruits, not by 
their professions ; and what a prolific fruit-bearer was here ! 

" For modes of taith let graceless zealots fight ; 
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right." 

If ever there was "an Israelite indeed, in whom there 
was no guile," he existed in the person of him whose mortal 
remains lie before us. I can conceive of no society beyond 
the grave, however pure and exalted, into which he may 
not enter, and be received as a worthy guest — aye, as a broth- 
er beloved, and a member of the household of saints " in 
o-ood and regular standing." Let it be remembered that if 
the same averment had been made of the great Founder of 
Christianity in his day, it would have been deemed shock- 
ing impiety by all who made any pretensions to soundness 
of religious faith ; for was not he, also, a heretic — aye, of the 
worst type ? Had he not eaten with publicans and sinners '{ 
Did he not audaciously impeach the piety of priest and 
Levite, and recognize as worthy of imitation and praise a 
hated, heretical Samaritan ? Had he not been convicted of 
blasphemy ? Had he not a devil I 

For myself — raising here no question as to whose theo- 
logical opinions are sound or unsound — I feel that, as the 
fearless advocate of liberty of conscience, as against all 
dogmatic authority and ecclesiastic rule, Mr. May is en- 
titled to our common gratitude ; for, however dissimilar we 


may be in our scriptural interpretations or religious convic- 
tions, he contended for us all equally as lor himself. Like 
the Apostle, he regarded it as a small matter to be judged 
of man's judgment. Like that same heroic spirit, he in- 
culcated the duty of proving all things in an independent 
investigation, every one for himself; taking care to hold 
fast that which is good. Like a greater than Paul, he asked, 
"Why judge ye not of yourselves what is right?"" Per- 
haps to no one in our country is the cause of free inquiry, 
in its broadest signification, more indebted than to this 
world-embracing friend and brother. 

Mark Antony lamenting over the dead body of Caesar, 
exclaims : — 

" The Evil that men do lives after them; 
The good is oft interred with their bones." 

Of the truthfulness of his first assertion there can be no 
question. The evil that men do survives their earthly ex- 
istence, and not unfrequently goes down from generation to 
generation. But by w4iat law of Providence does it happen 
that the good is ever buried with their bones? Believe not 
the statement. Evil has no such advantage over good. 
The same conditions, the same chances, the same limita- 
tions apply to each ; but what a difference in quality ! For, 

"Only the actions of the just 

Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust.'" 

Yes, even in the dust they blossom, and bear fruit abun- 
dantly for the nourishment of a long line of posterity. 
Beautifully has the great master of poetry illustrated this 
diffusive power of goodness in the oft-quoted couplet — 

" How far the little candle thiows its beams ! 
So shines a good deed in the naughty world." 



And it retains its lustre long after the removal of the 
mind that eoneeived and the hand that executed it. 

What one of the multitudinous gooi acts of our beloved 
friend, what one of the many grand testimonies uttered by 
him with such boldness and lidelity, can possibly become 
extinct in his grave \ These have entered into the general 
life of the community; they have widely affected the pop- 
ular conscience and heart; they have greatly lessened, and 
will continue to lessen, the sum of human sorrow and 
wretchedness; they have powerfully contributed towards 
shaping the destiny of the nation. " Though dead, he yet 
speakcth ;" and his spirit still walks abroad in all its quick- 
ening power. 

With what zeal and persistency did he give himself to 
the cause of popular education, with all its far-reaching 
consequences, from the primary school to the university ! 
How well he comprehended its priceless value to the mil- 
lions, its indispensable necessity to the maintenance of free 
institutions! As the natural sequence to his anti-slavery 
labors, how deep was the interest he evinced in the instruc- 
tion of the benighted freedmen of the South ! No one 
ever responded more warmly to the Divine mandate, "Let 
there be light," than himself. 

To that most blessed and fundamentally important mo\ e- 
nient which seeks the abolishment of the drinking customs 
of society, he gave an early adhesion and an earnest sup- 
port. Alas ! that these pernicious customs still prevail so 
widely, carrying with them a legion of evils! Yet, had it 
not been for the temperance reformation, the land would 
have been given over to intoxication beyond all reasonable 
hope of recovery. It has brought sunshine and joy, and 
health and happiness, to tens of thousands of homes, and 



saved millions from the liability of going down to drunk- 
ards' graves. It has greatly diminished insanity, pauper- 
ism and crime, strengthened private and public virtue, 
accelerated the general prosperity, and augmented the na- 
tional wealth. Still, it needs all possible encouragement 
and support ; for the obstacles thrown in the pathway of its 
complete success continue to be of a formidable nature. 
The departure, therefore, of one whose example and testi- 
mon} T were so efficient in its behalf, is a very serious loss. 

" Blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called 
the children of God." If I mistake not, the very first re- 
formatory movement which challenged the attention and 
won the advocacy of Mr. May, was that for the promotion 
of universal peace. This must have been nearly half a cen- 
tury ago, at the very commencement of his ministerial 
career. Aside from the teachings of Jesus, to no one pro- 
bably was he so indebted for his deep-seated convictions on 
this subject, as to the venerable Noah Worcester, of blessed 
memory. His whole being seemed to be permeated with 
the divine element of peace, as was the Saviour's whom he 
loved and revered so profoundly, and whose example he 
constantly held up as worthy of all imitation. Ilis spirit 
was ever attuned to the angelic song, " Glory to God in the 
highest; on earth peace ; good will towards men." Peace 
radiated from his countenance — found fitting cadence in the 
music of his voice — made fragrant his daily walk and con- 
versation. While he clearly saw that, in the Divine Prov- 
idence, war had both its admonitory and retributive uses, 
he saw not less clearly that 

" Were half the power that fills the world with terror, 
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, 

Given to redeem the human mind from error, 
There were no need of arsenals or forts. 



The warrior's name would be a name abhorred ; 

And every nation that should lift again 
Its head against a brother, on its forehead 

Would wear forever more the curse of Cain." 

That, just prior to his being summoned hence, he was 
permitted to hear of the ratification of an honorable treaty 
of peace between Great Britain and the United States, 
whereby all their grave difficulties are to be amicably set- 
tled, must have given to him inexpressible gratification, 
causing a feeling kindred to that of aged Simeon, when he 
exclaimed, " Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace ; for 
mine eyes have seen thy salvation. " In view of all the 
circumstances, it is the most cheering event in the history 
of international arbitration, and cannot fail to exercise a 
salutary influence upon the nations of the earth in the 
bloodless adjustment of their variances with each other. 
In that case, it will be a long stride towards the goal of uni- 
versal peace, which, whenever reached, shall be the fulfill- 
ment of the inspiring prediction — 

" No more shall nation against nation rise, 

Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eves : 

Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o'er, 

The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more ; 

But useless lances into scythes shall bond, 

And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end. 

Then palaces shall rise ; the joyful son 

Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun ; 

Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield, 

And the same hand that sow'd, shall reap the field." 

Farewell — at the longest, a brief farewell— friend of lib- 
erty, of temperance, of peace, of universal brotherhood, of 
equal rights for the whole human race, without distinction 
of clime, color, sex or nationality ! 

Farewell, lover of God and of man, without partiality 




and without hypocrisy — ready for every good word and 
work — benefactor of the poor and outcast, succorer of the 
hunted fugitive slave, sympathizer with the widow and 
orphan in their distress, rescuer of the wandering and lost, 
strengthener of the weak, and lifter up of the bowed down ! 

Farewell, sweetest, gentlest, most loving and most loved 
of men ! 

"Gone to the Heavenly Father's rest ! 

The flowers of Eden round thee blowiDg, 
And on thine ear the murmurs blest 

Of Shiloah's water softly flowing ! 
Beneath that Tree of Life which gives 
To all the earth its healing leaves ! 
In the white robe of angels clad ; 

And wandering by that sacred river, 
Whose streams of holiness make glad 

The city of our God forever ! 

Gentlest of spirits ! — not for thee 

Our tears are shed, our sighs are given ; 
Why mourn to know thou art a free 

Partaker of the joys of Heaven ? 
Finish' d thy work, and kept thy faith 
In Christian firmness unto death ; 
And beautiful as sky and earth, 

And Autumn's sun in downward going, 
The blessed memory of thy worth 

Around thy place of slumber glowing !" 


I would not tax your patience for one moment were it 
not for the intimate relationship that has existed between 
this dear friend and myself for over a quarter of a century. 
I had commenced laboring for my people here — the colored 
race— a few years before the Rev. Mr. May came to this 


village, as it was then. It was a dark place, — no friends, 
no encouragement, a solitary wilderness for the colored 
man. I began my labors as a poor boy, teaching school 
here ; and I shall never forget the joy that our dear friend 
brought me when I made his acquaintance. From that 
hour until his death, I never met him, in the darkest mo- 
ment, or amid the most fearful trials of my people, but 
that a ray of sunlight would strike my breast from his 

While these friends have been speaking of him, I have 
been thinking of all the oppressed and afflicted he has re- 
lieved and comforted. Those who have known him as 
long as I have, can say that there are no words that can 
exalt him as a man and as a brother of humanity. He was 
a brother to all. I feel like weeping with his friends and 
his children. lie was as dear to me as any one could be. 
Never did I go to his house for counsel, or for help in vain. 
Enemies were prowling around, but he was always true and 
always ready to befriend and welcome me to his table, to 
his study, and to his fireside. He was truly a friend to hu- 
manity, everywhere, and under all circumstances of life. 
As one of the colored race I can testify heartily that he was 
a brother to us as well as others. If I could say all that 
was in my heart I would say much more ; but you have 
heard much. Being the only one of my race to stand here, 
I thought I must say a word about the kind heart and no- 
ble life of the dear brother lying before us. Oh ! you 
know that a man who, twenty years ago, would prove a 
brother to my hated, oppressed, and enslaved people, would 
prove a brother to all. I can only say, God bless you my 
dear friends, his children and relatives, follow in his foot- 



It has been said that love will always bear one word 
more, if it be said in simplicity and sincerity,"' though I 
should hardly dare attempt to say that word now, after all 
that has been said, did I not stand here as the representa- 
tive of others, as well as to speak a simple word for myself. 
The brief notes 1 hold in my hand, will explain what I 
mean. Just before I left Boston I received these letters, 
one from the Rev. Charles Lowe, known to all the Unita- 
rians in this place, and throughout the country, as the be- 
loved Secretary of the American Unitarian Association, for 
some years past ; having recently resigned because of ill 
health to the regret of all who knew him. He says : 

My Dear Mr. Tjlden :— I write a line to express my 
earnest hope that you will represent the Association, as they 
have asked you to, at the funeral of Mr. May. If I could 
go, I should accompany you, for not only is my personal 
feeling for him very tender and near, but I recognize so 
strongly his eminent service to our cause, that I should be 
glad by my presence to express it. 

I hope it you go, you will say something publicly to testi- 
fy to his connection with the association and his efficient 
service. He has been acting as a missionary, ever since he 
left tUe charge of his society, with only such interruption as 
his health or other ergagements made necessary ; and the 
peculiar respect he had won all through the State in which 
his work was given, and his rare faculty of saying just the 
right word— enabled him to do what no one else could have 
done so well. He was our counsellor, and he was for the 
societies in his "diocese' 1 (as he used to call it,) an adviser, 
an inciter to zeal, and a dear friend. If 1 were still Secre- 



tary of the Association I should feci that one of my best 
supporters was gone. Ever truly yours, 

Charles Lowe. 

The other note is from Mr. Shippen, who says : — 

In requesting you to represent this Association at the 
funeral of Mr. May, I heartily accord with all that Mr. 
Lowe has just written, and hope that at Syracuse you may 
express, in behalf of our Association, as well as of the broth- 
erhood of the ministry, our deep gratitude for the noble 
and faithful life of our beloved and departed brother. To 
many of us he was a father, rather; by his benignant and 
gracious presence illustrating to our hearts that tenderness 
and loving kindness toward the humblest and least of men, 
which our faith rejoices to ascribe to the Infinite Father as 
his dearest attribute. 

Please express, especially to the family and friends, our 
heartfelt sympathy. 

Very cordially yours, 

Rush 11. Shippen. 

First let me express to the dear family of our departed 
brother our heartfelt and cordial sympathy, the heartfelt 
sympathy of the whole denomination. For who is there 
among us all that did not know and love your dear and 
honored father ? And yet we have no word of condolence, 
but rather of congratulation, thanking God, with you, to- 
day, that through his loving kindness you have been blessed 
with such a noble father. 

As to brother May's connection with the Unitarian Asso- 
ciation, it would hardly be proper for me to say a word to- 
day, were it not that in his own heart he traced much of the 
love he bore for his fellow-men, and the interest he felt in 


the groat reforms of tlie age, to their principles early en- 
graven upon his heart ; and the seeret of his snceess as a 
preaeher I am certain was that he so thoroughly, clear down 
to the depths of his soul, believed every word that he 
preached. It was that which touched people's hearts when 
they heard him. They said, here is a man who really be- 
lieves what he teaches ; when he speaks of the fatherhood 
of God, and when he speaks of the brotherhood of man we 
know that he believes it, and therefore we are ready to listen 
to him and bid him God speed in his work. Yes, brother 
May had a deep and living convictioti of the simple truths 
of Unitarian Christianity. And, oh ! how simple they are ! 
— the fatherhood of God ; the sonship of humanity ; the 
brotherhood of the race ; sin its own sorrow; holiness its 
own sweet and blessed reward ; the upper mansions opening 
right out of this world ; human love beginning here to be 
perfected beyond. These were the truths that in earliest 
childhood took hold of his heart ; that was the source of his 
theology — to call God Father ; that was the source of his 
philanthropy. He really believed that God was his Father ; 
he really believed that man was his brother, and he sought 
to live that out. That was what made his philanthropy so 
broad. It was color blind ; and it is the only kind of blind 
ness that I know of that indicates a clear vision, lie could 
not see anything of the distinctions made by man in any of 
God's creatures — it was the Divine image he saw every- 
where. And so whenever he saw a human being there he 
saw his brother, a child of the same Heavenly Father. 

I would if I had time, tell you how well dear 15rother 
May was loved in other places besides Syracuse, and in 
other States besides New York. You have enjoyed him 
here now for twenty-six years. It seems to you, I suppose, 
as if nobody loved him as you did. I tell you that where- 



ever he went, there were those that loved him just as well 
as you. It was my privilege to be one of his parishioners 
thirty years ago, when he went fresh from the anti-slavery 
field of labor, and settled at South Seitnate. I was then a 
young man working in a carpenter shop, but yet I longed 
for the Christian ministry ; yet how should I get into it? 
God knows whether I ever should, although I rather think 
he would have found a way for me — if brother May had not 
come like an angel of God, and taken right hold of my hand, 
hardened with toil, and elasped it, as only dear brother May 
could clasp a hand, and aided me with his counsel and sym- 
pathy. Oh, think how many have been clasped by that 
dear hand, and how many hearts have been cheered by that 
clasp! When he came to Scituate he drew us all to him by 
this strong human sympathy. lie carried our sicknesses and 
bore our sorrows. And it was wonderful that, while he was 
so deeply interested in all these various objeets of philan- 
thropy, his personal interest for every individual in his parish 
was so deep and constant. Mr. Garrison has called him a 
" son of consolation." Oh, he was that indeed. Seldom do 
we see united that deep and tender sympathy, and that moral 
heroism which made him ready to do and dare for any cause, 
that he believed to be the cause of God and humanity. 

I want to emphasize one thought before we go hence, that 
has already been mentioned sweetly and hopefully, that is, 
that our brother is not dead. God does not let him die 
even here. J lis influence will live in our hearts long to en- 
kindle within us something of the light that shone through 
him for God and humanity. Of all the men that I have 
ever known, I do not recall one who basso fully, as I think, 
realized the words of the poet — 

" I live to hold communion." 
But it is because our brother lived those glorious truths, that 



now that he has risen, he has taken up all onr hearts with 

The 271st Hymn was then read by Rev Mr. Calthrop 
and sung by the choir : 

Awake, my soul ! stretch every nerve, 

And press with vigour on : 
A heavenly race demands thy zeal, 

And an immortal crown. 

A cloud of witnesses around 

Hold thee in full survey : 
Forget the steps already trod, 

A nd onward urge thy way. 

'Tis God's all-animating voice 

That calls thee from on high ; 
'Tis his own hand presents the prize 

To thine aspiring eye ; 

That prize with peerless glories bright, 

Winch shall new lustre boast, 
When victors' wreaths and monarchs' gems 

Shall blend in common dust. 


Prayer was then offered by Rev. Frederick Frothingham, 
of Buffalo, after which the choir sung, 

Nearer, my God, to thee, 

Nearer to thee : 
Even though it be a cross 

That raiseth me, 
Still all my song shall be, 
Nearer, my God, to thee, 

Nearer to thee. 

Though like a wanderer, 

The sun gone down, 
Darkness be over me, 

My rest a stone, 
Yet in my dreams I'd be 

Nearer to thee. 





There let the way appear 

Steps unto heaven ; 
All that thou sendest me 

In mercy given, 
Angels to beckon me 
Nearer my God, to thee, 

Nearer to thee. 

Then with my waking thoughts, 

Bright with th} r praise, 
Out of my stony griefs, 

Bethel I'll raise ; 
So by my woes to be 
Nearer, my God, to thee, 

Nearer to thee. 

Or if on joj'ful wing, 

Cleaving the sky, 
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, 

Upward I lly, — 
Still all my sons; shall be, 
Nearer, my God, to thee, 

Nearer to thee. 

Rev. Mr. Calthrop announced the close of the services, 
and said that those especially who had been unable to gain 
admission to the church, would be glad to know that there 
were to be short services at the grave, to attend which they 
were most cordially invited. lie pronounced the benedic- 


The casket was brought from the church between two 
rows of Sunday school children, stationed on the right and 
left from the church entrance to the hearse, all dressed in 
white, presenting a beautiful sight. The procession was 
formed, and the long line of carriages moved through James 
and Salina streets to Oakwood Cemeterv. 





On arriving at the cemetery, the procession passed up the 
winding roadway to the place of burial, the Sunday school 
children again forming in two lines. A large number of 
people had congregated, and after the casket was taken from 
the hearse, brief services were held, commencing with the 
children singing : — 

" In the sweet by and by, 

We shall meet on that beautiful shore." 

Remarks were made by the Rev. Mr. Calthrop, President 
Andrew D. White, of Cornell University, Rev. Mr. Mum- 
ford, and the Rev. E. W. Mundy. 


When an Egyptian king died, his body lay in state before 
the assembly of the people, who were called upon solemnly 
to pronounce their verdict on his character. If that verdict 
was adverse, he was buried apart, as unworthy of honorable 
sepulture ; if favorable, he was buried, amid the tears of the 
people, among the sacred sepulchres of the kings. 

We are assembled here, to pronounce our last judgment 
on the clay that lies before us. Here, among the leafy trees, 
the joyful light, and the thousand sweet sounds of summer, 
the dust will lie. But where shall we bury him in our hearts ? 
Already judgment has been passed in other places. This 
morning his nearest kindred, — those who had known his 
innermost life, — gathered, and with one voice declared, that 
this was the truest, kindest, faithfulest friend, father, man, 
their eyes had ever seen. With sweet, cheerful converse, 
they delighted to recall every word he had spoken, every 
thing he had done. 'Twas not a funeral, it was a beautiful 
commemoration service, which made their hearts glad. 


Their verdict was, "The memory of the just is blessed." 
This afternoon a mourning crowd gathered, of their own 
accord, in the midst of the busy day, publicly to do honor 
to one who 'had fought a good fight, and finished his course.' 
Their verdict was, " O, God, we thank Thee that this man 
has lived." And now we, too, are gathered together, to 
declare, under the eye of Heaven, what our thought is. 
Every one is free to speak. We are not afraid to hear the 
testimony of any man on earth. Is there any here present, 
who can say that this man's ear was ever closed to any single 
cry of distress, of loneliness, of oppression, of poverty, of any 
human misery % That an}' just cause ever languished for lack 
of his help % Was there ever one a stranger, that he took 
not in ; naked, that he did not strive to clothe ; sick and in 
prison, that he did not visit ? Whenever I came down the 
hill, from a visit to that most hospitable house, if I chanced 
to meet any specially forlorn man or woman going up, I 
was instantly sure whither they were bound. When going 
home, last Monday, after our church meeting, I got out of 
the car with an Indian. As we were walking the same way, 
I thought I would try an experiment, and see if this chance- 
met stranger knew anything about Mr. Ma}\ I inquired. 
" Oh," said he, " the best friend our nation ever had. I had 
a deaf and dumb boy nine years old. Mr. May got him into 
the Asylum in New York. They said, he only nine years 
old, — none under twelve can come in. But Mr. May said, 
' Indian boy, Indian boy,' — He must come in." I wonder 
how many hundreds of just such tales could be told. Yes, 
our verdict is, " We will bury him among the kings because 
he hath done good" 

Already the whole countiw, through the press, begins to 
pour in its tribute from all quarters. There was a time when 
men spake all manner of evil against him falsely, for Jesus' 


sake ; but already the cause is swallowed up in blessing. 
The verdict of America is, " The nation honors him, and 
weeps his loss." 

One more verdict, and we have done. There is another 
assembly before which our friend is now standing. The 
general assembly and church of the first-born ; Jesus, bringer 
in of the new covenant. God, the judge of all men, and the 
spirits of just men made perfect. Can we not already, in 
faith, see that joyful welcome, and hear that last grand ver- 
dict pronounced, " Well done, good and faithful servant, 
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord !" 

And now what a lesson this life teaches as to where a true 
ambition lies. I would invite all brave young American 
men to ponder it well. Here, in America, we all stand, in 
one sense as equals. Here we have no Dukes, Earls, Mar- 
quises or Lords, whose very names are supposed to give their 
possessors a right to stand before other men. And yet, the 
thing j for which alone these names, otherwise worthless, 
ought to stand, is here. Here lies one whose name no out- 
ward titles ever adorned, and yet the honor is all his own. 
Here lies one, who was Duke or Leader in the cause of man. 
Earl of justice, Lord of the glorious dominion of love and 
good will. Whoso wishes these coronets to be placed on 
his brow, let him go and do likewise. Young friend, you 
like him, can win them, if you love and hate the things he 
loved and hated ; he hated no man, he hated only the vice 
that degrades men, the intemperance that imbrntes men, 
the oppression that enslaves men, the sin and selfishness 
that destroy men. He loved the truth that enlarges, the 
justice that strengthens, and the love that blesses men. This 
is the word, which he, being dead, yet speaketh to you, to 
me, and to all men. 

" "■ ■ ■ ■■ —n—n—M «—■ ^ 



Mij Friends : — Here lies before us all that was mortal 
of the best man, the most truly Christian man I have ever 
known ; the purest, the sweetest ; the fullest of faith, hope 
and charity ; the most like the Master. 

For nearly thirty years he has blessed us — for all these 
years his very presence has been a benediction to us. 

I think that the first characteristic of our dear friend, 
which rises in the remembrance of us all, is his kindliness, 
his tenderness and love toward all Clod's creatures. How 
well do I remember its first revelation to me. Nearly thir- 
ty years ago, as a child in one of your public schools, I was 
upon a boat crowded with children on our way to celebrate 
the national anniversary. Into our midst came a man 
whom most of us had never before seen. He spoke, and 
instinctively we loved him. He " suffered little children to 
come unto him." Had his creed been recited to us by un- 
friendly lips, it would have doubtless scared us ; but the 
man was Mr. May, and his kindliness and goodness have 
never been clouded from that day to this. 

But this quality was not mere geniality. It deepened 
and broadened into a great stream of Christian charity — 
charity to the distressed immigrant, to the African, to the 
Indian, to Jew and Gentile, to Catholic and Protestant, to 
those who differed from him, to those who reviled him. 

Another striking characteristic was his courage. A few 
years since I was for a few days in London, hurrying home- 
ward. The July riots had just taken place in New York, 
and I feared that they would spread to other cities, and in 
that case Mr. May's very nobleness would draw upon him 
the blind fury of the mob. Expressing dread of this to an 



English lady, formerly a resident of Boston, she said, 'Have 
no fear of Mr. May. lie is one of the most courageous 
men I have ever known. I saw him withstand the old mob 
against anti-slavery, and I know him. 1 ' 

There are those here who know this quality in him. 
Many of you can doubtless recall with me how, for rescu- 
ing a slave, fellow citizens of ours were dragged from court 
to court over this State, and how thrilling it was when 
another great, good citizen* stood up and said publicly in 
that storm, " Why persecute those men ? Samuel J. May 
and I did the deed." 

Another characteristic was his patience. Few know how 
this was tried ; not merely by the poor and needy, but by 
every man or woman with this or that plan of regenerating 
the universe ; by that most trying class, whose poor glim- 
mering spark of genius is smothered in half knowledge or 
absurdity or conceit. For all these his time and patience 
were limitless. 

And to those who refused to work with him, refused to 
recognize him as a brother, refused to return the civility of 
his call, who thought it their duty to hold him up to public 
reprobation, and to misrepresent him — for those there was 
never a word of reproach, I heard him speak plaintively 
of this once, but not at all bitterly. 

We who have grown up here, whether in other creeds or 
not, know something of this. Let any young man, no mat- 
ter of what church, speak, no matter on what subject, and 
he was sure to see Mr. May in the front ranks of his audi- 
ence, encouraging, looking on the bright side, strengthening 
him during his effort, counselling him after it. 

* Gcrrit Smith. 


And all these and a host of other good qualities were 
real, and they were real because they were rooted in Chris- 

The question has been asked, was Mr. May a Chris- 
tian ? 

My friends, there are certain parts of the Scriptures which 
no criticism will ever touch. Biblical students may remove 
this or that addition to the original text ; but the Sermon 
on the Mount — the " First commandment, and the second 
which is like unto it," — the depiction of pure religion and 
undefiled by St. James, — these shall stand forever, for they 
are based upon eternal verity. Judged by these — judged 
by every utterance of the Founder of Christianity — Samu- 
el J. May was one of the purest and most perfect of 

When the Sermon on the Mount was read this afternoon, 
it seemed prophetic of the man. It was not — " Blessed are 
the pure in heart — who accept the thirty-nine articles;" 
not " Blessed are the peacemakers — who subscribe to the 
decrees ot the Council of Trent;" not, "Blessed are ye 
when men shall revile you — provided ye agree to the West- 
minster catechism ;" — no. The blessings of that greatest 
of utterances since the world began, were without human 
test, and they fell upon our friend in full measure, and his 
life was the radiant witness of them, and we all saw them. 

Yes, my friends, he was the best Christian man we have 
ever known. Had our Lord come on this earth again and 
into these streets any time in these thirty years, he was sure 
of one follower. Came He as black man, or red man, or 
the most wretched of white men, came He in rags or sores, 
this, our dear friend, would have known Him and followed 



Him, no matter what weapons, carnal or spiritual, were 
hurled at the procession. 

To him came the words of the Master he so fully believ- 
ed in, " Inasmuch as ye have dojie it unto the least of one of 
these, ye have (jone it unto Me. 1 ' To us come those other 
words, brushing away all formulas, " Bytheir fruits shall ye 
know them." 

My friends, I account it among the greatest of blessings 
that it was given me to know this man, and I shall always 
rejoice that on the last afternoon of his lite I spent a most 
delightful hour with him, and bore away his blessing. 


Born in Beaufort District, South Carolina, where four- 
fifths of the inhabitants were slaves, the son of a slavehold- 
er, until I was twenty years old, I believed in slavery as a 
divine institution, and carried a bible in my pocket to de- 
fend it asrainst all comers. When the faithful hands of no- 
ble Quaker women removed the sacred veil which had con- 
cealed the monstrous features of the system, and I saw 
clearly at last that it was not of celestial, but infernal ori- 
gin, I soon lost all faith in my religious teachers, who 
seemed to declare that man was made for the church and 
not the church for man. I was almost drowning in a sea 
of skepticism, when Samuel J. May came to the town in 
Western New York where I lived. 

As soon as I saw his radiant face and heard his sweet 
yet earnest voice, I felt drawn to him by a mighty magnet- 
ism. It became my first desire to share in the blessed work 
that he was doing, to follow him, although with feeble 


steps, and a great way off, in going about doing good. 
Since that daj r , all ot my life that I can look back upon 
without regret and shame, I owe to the inspiration of his 
example and the power of his encouragement. No other 
friend has exerted such an uplifting influence upon my 
spirit. Therefore, I could not resist the strong attraction 
which has drawn me here to-day. There are many other 
things which I should find relief and joy in saying, but 
these threatening clouds admonish me to be content with 
reciting a hymn which expresses what is in all our minds 
and hearts. 

Calmly, calmly lay him down ! 
He hath fought a noble fight ; 
lie hath battled for the right ; 
He hath won the fadeless crown. 

Memories, all too bright for tears, 
Crowd around us from the past ; 
He was faithful to the last, — 
Faithful through long, toilsome years. 

All that makes for human good, 
Freedom, righteousness and truth, 
These, the objects of his youth, 
Unto age he still pursued. 

Kind and gentle was his soul, 
Yet it had a glorious might ; 
Clouded minds it filled with light, 
Wounded spirits it made whole. 

Huts where poor men sat distressed, 
Homes where death had darkly passed, 
Beds where suffering breathed its last, 
These he sought, and soothed, and blessed. 

Hoping, trusting, lay him down ; 
Many in the realms above 
Look for him with eyes of love, 
Wreathing his immortal crown. 



Friends : — We might remain until the midnight, 
telling of the worth of Mr. May. But his deeds speak more 
potently than any words which we can utter, and our poor 
rhetoric is wholly inadequate to set forth his virtues. His 
life has been an uninterrupted beneficence. "Want and sor- 
row never appealed to him in vain. His presence diffused 
continual blessings. When the unfortunate and the suffering 
in our city had exhausted every other means by which to 
obtain relief, they knew that after all else failed, they could 
go to Mr. May, and that he would open some way for them. 
In the activity of a long life, he has been counsellor and 
friend to us all ; and now at his grave there come calmness 
and cheerfulness and high resolve into our hearts, as we look 
for the last time upon the dear dead face. 

To the younger clergy of this region Mr. May has been a 
constant friend. He has appreciated our difficulties ; he has 
understood our perplexities ; he has cheered and strength- 
ened us by his wise suggestions and by the contagion of his irre- 
pressible hopefulness. We have called him Father for the 
love that we bear him, and now there is left to us the in- 
heritance of his. example, his spirit and his work. His in- 
fluence descends upon us as a perpetual benediction. 

To-day, as hour after hour the people passed along that 
they might look once more upon the features they loved so 
well, there came with the crowd an Indian. For a moment 
he stood quiet, and then the hard brown face broke into tears, 
and he sat down and sobbed like a child. That bereaved 
Indian expressed the feelings of us all. White people and 
black people and red people, learned and ignorant, old and 
young, poor and rich, Catholic and Protestant and Infidel,— 
we have a common sorrow, and drop our tears upon the grave 


of one who was a common friend. He knew neither sect 
nor color, nor nationality ; but he saw in all men his brothers, 
antl his ear was ever open to their words and his hand ever 
extended in their aid. The fresh generosity and beauty of 
his life is well symbolized in the fragrant flowers which lov- 
ing hands have brought to his tomb, and the maturity and 
perfectness of his work is strikingly suggested in the ripened 
wheat sheaf which lies upon his coffin. His work is well 
done. His earthly life has been well lived. And his death 
was peaceful and bright as the setting of the sun. 

The last day of his stay on earth, was one of pleasure to 
him and to the friends who saw him ; and with the disap- 
pearing twilight he passed into the glory of the other world. 
As sung by the poet, 

" He sat in peace in the sunshine 

Till the clay -was almost done, 
And then at its close an angel 

Stole over the threshold stone." 

" lie folded his hands together, 
He touched his eyelids with balm, 

And his lost breath floated upward, 
Like the close of a solemn psalm." 

THE EX1>. 

A hymn was sung, when the casket was deposited in the 
grave. The children then came forward, each one dropping 
a bouquet upon the bosom of their late and beloved pastor, 
friend and guide, as they passed. The services closed with a 


So this mortal puts on immortality ; this corruptible puts 
on incorruption. That which was sown in weakness is 
raised in power. 



Man, born of woman, is of few days. Like the flower of 
the field he facleth, and full quickly goeth to decay. Man, 
the offspring of the skies, his being quenchless, is heir to the 
the immensities and the forever. 

Tin's our brother, whose mortal remains we now commit 
to the keeping of the grave, has ascended, and become seized 
of his estate. For well on earth, had he read and learned 
his horn-book for the skies. 

As he enters there, beaming, devoted, and loving — all 
worlds open to receive him, angels rise up to greet him, 
the infinite bosom itself warms to welcome, to embrace 

So, may we too live, that when to each of us, one after 
another, the hour shall come, we also may find death to be 
birth, and time but the door, that opens tj us the eternities 
of God. 

In pare. 

LIBRARY OF a***** 
™?U932 725 8