A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 16 February, 1898, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President in the chair.
After the Records of the January Meeting had been read and approved, the Corresponding Secretary announced that since the last Stated Meeting letters had been received from the Hon. Jeremiah Smith, LL. D., and from Messrs. Augustus Lowell, John Eliot Thayer, and Denison Rogers Slade accepting Resident Membership.
The President, as Chairman of the Committee appointed to consider the subject of increasing the permanent Funds of the Society, reported that of the $10,000 which they had proposed to raise, subscriptions amounting to $9,460 had been already received.
President Wheelwright then said:—
I have to make another of those announcements of which there have been so many during the past year. Our associate, Francis Vergnies Balch, died at his home in Jamaica Plain, on Friday, February fourth.
Mr. Balch was elected a Resident Member at the first Stated Meeting of the Society, 18 January, 1893. The engrossing nature of his professional engagements prevented his being a frequent attendant at our meetings, and did not allow him to take any conspicuous part in the Society’s work. With that work, however, he deeply sympathized, and he was always ready to furnish to those who were more actively engaged in it than himself that counsel and assistance which his wide knowledge—especially of our local history, gained in the practice of his profession—enabled him to give.
We have always esteemed it a high honor to have inscribed on the Roll of our Members the name of one who was universally conceded to be the ablest conveyancer of the day in this city, and whose high personal character and modest private virtues endeared him to all who knew him. My own personal acquaintance with Mr. Balch was so slight as to preclude me from saying more; but there are several gentlemen here present who knew him intimately, and who have expressed a wish to pay tribute to his memory at this time. I will call first upon Mr. Charles Sedgwick Rackemann, his associate in business.
Mr. Rackemann spoke as follows:—
The keynote of Mr. Balch’s character was simplicity, and the story of his life, told in detail, would comprise a series of illustrations of the way in which he met every duty with courage and cheerfulness, and applied to its performance his simple methods of execution. He had the most unswerving devotion to the truth in all matters, great and small. He was so candid, and so conscious of his own rectitude, that by the very frankness and directness of his address he must often have disarmed those who sought to circumvent him, or to take advantage of his clients despite his efforts in their behalf. One constantly thought of him as essentially a man—
“Whose armor is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!”
In Mr. Balch’s life there were five principal events: his college career, which developed points in his character that lasted always with steady firmness; his service in the army, which nearly deprived us of his after-life; his marriage; his connection with Mr. Sumner and his residence in Washington; and his final settlement in the pursuit of the law. In order to show how and why he succeeded in making something out of every one of these experiences, how he benefited by what he went through, how he helped others at every point, either by influence and example or by actual service, how he studied and worked, and “lived and loved,” one must write a book.
In his own department of the law Mr. Balch was facile princeps among us, and he had, to a very remarkable extent, the acquaintance and respect of those members of the Bar whose work lay along other lines than his, as well as the admiration and love of his brother conveyancers. His power of work was extraordinary, and must have been derived largely from his father, of whom it is related that when he was laboring over the fire insurance business, of which he was one of the pioneers, he not infrequently remained in his office all night, and took only such sleep as he could get in his chair. But of his attributes and attainments as a lawyer, due notice will be taken by a Committee of the Bar Association already chosen for that purpose.
Much has been said of Mr. Balch’s modesty and his retiring manners; but even these traits could not conceal from those who saw him “upon a nearer view” the finer and stronger points of character of which they were but the outward accompaniments. We may confidently characterize Mr. Balch as lawyer, patriot, Christian gentleman. Could we wish for him, or for any one dear to us, a better designation, or the establishment of a nobler record than these words imply?
Remembering Mr. Balch’s untiring industry, his deep love of kindred and friends, his justice and mercy, his devotion to lofty ideals and principles, his religious convictions and feelings, we may well believe that our friend answered all the calls of duty with conscientiousness and faithfulness, and that he realized that ideal of Thackeray so beautifully expressed in his poem The End of the Play:—
“Come wealth or want, come good or ill,
Let young and old accept their part,
And bow before the Awful Will,
And bear it with an honest heart.
Who misses or who wins the prize—
Go, lose or conquer as you can;
But if you fail, or if you rise,
Be each, pray God, a gentleman.”
Mr. Moses Williams said that he esteemed it a privilege to pay a tribute to the memory of this rare man whose friendship he had enjoyed for many years. He had never known a man of higher ideals or one more scrupulous as to every detail of any and every matter intrusted to his hands. The confidence which his clients had in him was unbounded; and it was no uncommon occurrence for parties with conflicting interests, involving large amounts of money, or other property, to intrust the conduct of the most important and intricate transactions entirely to him. Mr. Williams spoke of the weight of responsibility which rested upon a professional conveyancer when he had to decide whether certain technical flaws in a title were of such a character as to warrant him in advising his client that, nevertheless, he might safely purchase the property thus affected. He alluded to Mr. Balch’s anxiety upon such occasions, and to the fact that his conscientiousness in this regard had caused him many a sleepless night. Mr. Williams remarked, in passing, upon Mr. Balch’s pre-eminence in his chosen branch of the legal profession and upon its being universally acknowledged by the Bar. He spoke also of Mr. Balch’s great kindness, especially to the younger men in his profession,—in which he himself had shared,—and remarked that Mr. Balch appeared to be never quite so happy as when doing a kindness to another. Mr. Williams alluded to Mr. Balch’s arduous professional labors, to his wide reading and scholarship, to the fact that he was always abreast of the best current thought, and to his patriotic interest, as a private citizen, in public affairs.
Mr. John Noble then paid this tribute to Mr. Balch’s memory:—
Among the many losses which have fallen upon the Boston Bar within the last year, perhaps there is no single one which will be more felt, or which leaves a wider gap, than that caused by the death of our late associate, Francis V. Balch. He occupied a unique position. He was not an advocate,—he seldom, perhaps never, appeared before juries; he was not the aggressive fighter who was looked to when the Bar had to take some stand; he did not push to the front when public occasions arose; his name was not on everybody’s lips or in every newspaper, and yet, in his way, and from the nature of his career, few men, perhaps, in the profession were more widely known,—there were few, perhaps, whose reputation rested on a surer foundation, or whose influence is likely to last longer. A lawyer’s memory is proverbially evanescent,—it is only when it is linked with some permanent, enduring reality that it is likely to outlive him.
In his special province,—conveyancing, the management of estates, the administration of trusts, and the whole law of Real Property,—Mr. Balch stood in the very front rank. Of absolute integrity and honor, of calm, sound judgment, well versed in the decisions of courts, of wide and accurate learning in the underlying and established principles of those branches of the law, and with unusual powers of intellect, his reputation was second to none; and he was recognized as an authority. He was a wise and sagacious adviser, of singularly judicial temperament, and men sometimes chose to abide by his decision rather than await a resort to the courts.
Pale, attenuated, and stooping, Mr. Balch had more the air of the old-time scholar or recluse than of the forceful and successful lawyer or the energetic man of affairs; but underneath this exterior that seemed so frail, was an indomitable will, an untiring energy, and a resolution that carried him through the persistent, unremitting labor and strain which marked his whole life. That calm confidence and unflinching determination sustained him in the trying beginning of his professional life. A clientless, briefless lawyer,—undisheartened by years of seeming failure, which would have discouraged most men, and never doubtful of the final result,—he turned those days of waiting into the effective preparation which equipped him for that position in his profession to which he aspired, which he attained, and which he filled with signal success for so many years.
Generous, self-sacrificing, public-spirited; always ready to help his brethren, and especially the younger, in their perplexing doubts and fears, and to turn to their service his best powers of advice or assistance; courteous, kind, and sympathetic,—he was universally beloved; while for his sturdy virtues, his rare intellectual strength, and his pure and high-toned character, he was as universally admired and respected.
Mr. Henry H. Edes, having been called upon, said:—
Several years ago, while in a distant city, I attended Divine worship with the friends whom I was visiting. The service opened with an invocation and was followed by one of those lurid hymns of Dr. Watts which dwell upon the wrath of God. Then came the long prayer; and then the sermon,—one which would have delighted the heart of Jonathan Edwards, and a performance better suited to his time than to ours. A short prayer followed, and before the benediction was pronounced another hymn—twin brother to the first—was sung; but in this “Chamber of Horrors” there were two bright spots, strangely and beautifully and gloriously contrasting with the rest of the service,—the organ voluntary, first wrought out in the brain of Mendelssohn, and the selections from Scripture. As we left the church my host and hostess made haste to express their regret that Dr. — should have chanced to preach a doctrinal sermon that morning. I begged them to give themselves no concern, because whenever I listened, as I had that morning, to the reading of the Sermon on the Mount, the mere speculations of a human mind upon theology were to me of little consequence; and I added that I had the rare privilege of knowing a man who exemplified in his daily life all the Beatitudes. I need not say to you who knew him that I referred to our associate who has so recently gone from us to receive the reward promised to the pure in heart.
I knew Mr. Balch only in middle life. His presence was a benediction to all who came in contact with him, whether in social or professional life; and, to a superlative degree, he incarnated in himself the spirit of meekness, of humility, of courtesy. One of the busiest of men, he always found time to be polite, casting equally upon the lowly and the great the sunshine of his affability.
What Mr. Balch was to those who had known him in his college life, and how strong the tie was which bound him to those early friends, may be inferred from the extracts from their recent letters which Mr. Rackemann has just read to us.
Mr. Balch, doubtless, had “the faults of his quality;” but as we look back into the past and recall this sweet-hearted, gentle spirit, and try to remember what his shortcomings really were, we find that our Quaker poet long ago described them in fitting phrase:—
“And who could blame the generous weakness
Which, only to thyself unjust,
So overprized the worth of others,
And dwarfed thy own with self-distrust.
“All hearts grew warmer in the presence
Of one who, seeking not his own,
Gave freely for the love of giving,
Nor reaped for self the harvest sown.”
Now that the name of Pelham is before us in connection with the mezzotint engraving of Sir William Pepperrell which Mr. Gay exhibited at the last Stated Meeting of the Society, I wish to speak of the youngest son of Peter Pelham,1 Henry Pelham of Boston, and later of London and Ireland,—a man of charming personality, a constant companion in his younger days of his “brother Copley,” and an artist to whom has never been accorded, in New England, the place to which his talents and position entitled him.
Peter Pelham had three wives. By his first wife, Martha, whom he brought from London, he had three sons: Peter, baptized 17 December, 1721, who married and emigrated to Virginia where he left many descendants; Charles,2—whose autograph letter I shall presently read,—baptized 9 December, 1722 (both at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, London); and William, who was born in Boston, 22 February, 1729, and buried 28 January, 1761.3
Pelham’s second wife was Margaret Lowrey, whom he married 15 October, 1734. By her he had Penelope, born in Boston in 1735, who died in 1756;4 and Thomas, born in Newport, R. I., who left numerous descendants.5
The Registers of Trinity Church record the third marriage of Peter Pelham,—to Mary (Singleton) Copley, the widow of Richard Copley,6 on 22 May, 1748. By her he had but one son, Henry, the subject of this paper, who was born in Boston, 14 March, 1748–49, and baptized at Trinity Church on the nineteenth of the same month, and a daughter, Helena Maria, baptized 26 May, 1751.7
Until within a decade the parentage of Peter Pelham, the emigrant, was unknown; and it was supposed that he was married but twice. There also existed doubts as to the antecedents of Thomas Pelham and his sister Penelope. On the first of February, 1888, the following advertisement appeared in the New York Herald:—
Peter Pelham, who, at the beginning of this Century, was residing somewhere in Virginia, Charles Pelham, who, at the same period, was living at Newton, near Boston, Massachusetts, Henry Pelham, who, at the same time, was residing in Ireland, and Elizabeth, Penelope, Thomas, and Mary Pelham, the children of Thomas Pelham, who were, about the same time, living in Boston, Massachusetts, or their legal representatives, may hear of a fortune by applying to Messrs. Dougal & Co., 67 Strand, London, England.
The above persons are descended from one Peter Pelham, who emigrated from England about the middle of the last Century, and settled in or near Boston, Massachusetts. Country papers please copy.
This advertisement having been seen by a member of the family in Boston, he procured from London the following Memorandum from the Records of the Court of Chancery which furnishes the name of the Emigrant’s father, the fact that the Emigrant was thrice married, and the names of his children, thus solving the mystery as to the antecedents of those who are thus found to have been the fruit of his second marriage:—
The Action is between Peter Pelham, Charles Pelham, Elizabeth Pelham, Penelope Pelham, Mary Pelham, an Infant, by Henry Pelham, her next friend, and Henry Pelham as Plaintiffs, and Henry Compton, John Compton, and William Pelham as Defendants.
The Order above referred to first recites the Bill filed in the Action. From this it appears:—
- (1) That Peter Pelham* was the Grandfather of the Plaintiffs Peter Pelham, Charles Pelham, and Henry Pelham, and great Grandfather of Elizabeth Pelham, Penelope Pelham, Thomas Pelham, and Mary Pelham.
- (2) That Peter Pelham (the Grandfather) made his Will on the 30th June, 1755, whereby, after bequeathing certain legacies, he gave his estate to Trustees, therein named, upon Trust, to pay the Income to his daughter Helena Pelham for life, and after her death to stand possessed of the same for the benefit of his son Peter Pelham [the emigrant] if he survived his sister, otherwise for the benefit of Peter Pelham’s (the Son’s) Children as therein mentioned.
- (3) That Peter Pelham (the Grandfather) died on the 23rd May, 1756, leaving his daughter Helena Pelham8 surviving, who, however, died on the 12th October, 1782 (unmarried).
- (4) That Peter Pelham (the Son) died in 1751 (thus predeceasing Peter Pelham the Grandfather), having been married three times.
- (5) That the children of his Marriage with his first Wife were the Plaintiffs, Peter Pelham, and Charles Pelham; and William Pelham.
- (6) That the children of his Marriage with his second Wife were Thomas Pelham and Penelope Pelham.
- (7) That the children of his Marriage with his third Wife were Henry Pelham and Helena Pelham.
- (8) That certain of the above mentioned persons had died, some leaving children, others without leaving children.
- (9) That the Plaintiffs claimed to be the only issue of Peter Pelham (the Grandfather) and as such to be entitled to his Estate.
- * Note. The address and description of this Gentleman are not given.
The Order then directs that certain enquiries and accounts be made and taken with the view of ascertaining particulars of the estate and debts of Peter Pelham (the Grandfather) and also of ascertaining who the persons were then entitled to the residue of such Estate.
And the Order concludes by directing that the further consideration of the matter shall be reserved until the Master makes his Report, after making and taking the enquiries and accounts before directed.9
When Henry Pelham was born, his half-brother, John Singleton Copley, was eleven years old.10 Peter Pelham died in 1751, and was buried 14 December of that year,11 leaving the widow and her sons in a house12 in Lindall Row, now known as Exchange Place. Here, surrounded by Peter Pelham’s works and drawings, and undoubtedly profiting by the instruction and experience that he must have obtained from associating with so talented a man as his step-father, Copley began his remarkable career as a portrait painter. Henry Pelham’s portrait, as a boy of eight or ten years of age, has come down to us in Copley’s famous picture, entitled the Boy and the Squirrel.13 This canvas, judging from the age of the sitter, must have been painted about 1758.
It was but natural for Henry Pelham to develop artistic tastes, with such a guide and daily companion as his half-brother Copley. The fact that Henry Pelham was established as a portrait painter in Boston is demonstrated by his Power of Attorney to Henry Bromfield, Esq., of Boston, and also by his correspondence with Isaac Winslow Clarke, regarding Colonel Elihu Hall and his half-length portrait, of which I shall speak presently. The text of the Power of Attorney is as follows:—
To All People to whom these presents shall come greeting Know ye that I Henry Pelham of Boston in the County of Suffolk and Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England Portrait Painter have constituted and appointed Henry Bromfield Esqr of Boston aforesaid to be my true and lawful Attorney for me and in my Name and to my use to ask demand sue for recover and receive and on Receipt thereof give discharges for all sums of Money Debts Accounts Reckonings, Claims and demands of every nature and kind where of I have cause of suit or Action in the aforementioned Province and suit in Law or Equity for recovering thereof to commence and persue hereby impowering him my said Attorney, to appoint Attorneys and Substitutes under him. And I hereby covenant to Ratify and confirm whatever he my said attorney shall do or cause to be done in the Premises by Virtue hereof. In Witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and Seal this Ninth day of March Anno Domini One Thousand seven Hundred and seventy Six and in the sixteenth year of his Majestys Reign
Signed sealed and delivered
in presence of us
Province of Massachusetts Bay—
Suffolk Ss Boston March 9tḥ 1776
Henry Pelham acknowledged this instrument to be his free Act and Deed
Peter Oliver, Chief Justice.
It is well-known that Copley made a handsome living by portrait painting. This, together with his marriage to Susannah-Farnum,14 a daughter of Richard Clarke,15 an opulent merchant of Boston, enabled him to live in considerable style for those days. Some idea how Pelham looked, and in what sort of dress he probably appeared, may be got from a letter written by Colonel John Trumbull, in 1772, while a student at Harvard College, who visited Copley, and described him “as attired in a crimson velvet suit, laced with gold.”16 After his marriage, Copley lived “in a beautiful house fronting on a fine open common.”17 It is probable that Henry Pelham was a frequent visitor at this house, which stood on the present site of the Somerset Club House on Beacon Street. Here John Singleton Copley, Jr., the future Baron Lyndhurst, thrice Lord Chancellor of England, was born, 21 May, 1772.18
That Pelham was personally very attractive and fond of society, is proved by the distinct recollection of conversations which the writer held with the late Mrs. Margaret-Bromfield (Pearson) Blanchard, the granddaughter of Henry Bromfield of Harvard, Massachusetts.19 Down to the time of his departure for England, in 1776, Henry Pelham was a particular friend and admirer of Mrs. Blanchard’s mother, who was Miss Sally Bromfield. I have in my possession a copy of Baskerville’s beautiful edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton, in two volumes (1759), from the text of Thomas Newton, D.D. Both volumes are inscribed:—
“For Miss Sally Bromfield
with Mr H. Pelham’s
Sincere & affectionate Compliments—
Boston, December, 1775.”20
I have brought with me this afternoon a letter written by Henry Pelham to Colonel Elihu Hall at Salem, which has never been opened. This letter I propose to open now, in the presence of the members of The Colonial Society, one hundred and twenty-four years after Henry Pelham addressed it and sealed it with an impression from his signet ring. This letter was enclosed in another addressed to Isaac Winslow Clarke, as follows:—
Boston, Septemṛ 10, 1774.
Dear Sir,—Relying upon your Friendship and knowing your kind disposition to oblige, I have taken the Liberty of inclosing a letter with an Account and Order upon Coll. Hall a Gentleman whose Picture I have lately done and who has left this place intending to go from Salem to England without taking that notice of me which I could have wished. The presenting him with these Papers if not too much trouble I should take as a particular kindness. He has often mentioned to me having property at Salem, Provisions I think he said which he has offered me in pay should he not have Money I beg you would receive in payment anything else he may have as I had rather trade some than lose my money. With Complmtṣ to Miss Lucey21 and all Friends I am Sir your affectionate and Obedt Servant
He Sails in Captt Lyde.
Mṛ Isaac W. Clarke
Boston, Septmṛ 10.1774.
Sir,—Upon being informed at your lodgings this morning that you had left this Place without any intention of returning previous to your sailing for England I was much surprized at your not settling with me for your picture before you went or at least calling upon me and giving some assurances respecting it. I should be sorry to think that you had not treated me with sufficient Honor and punctuality I would therefore willingly attribute your neglect to forgettfulness of me and hope the request will prove that I have not attributed it to a wrong Cause.
Mr Startin22 or Mr Clarke will present your account and a Draft upon you for the ballance the due honoring of which will be very acceptable to Sir
your Obedint Humble Servant
Elihu Hall Esqr
Elihu Hall Esqr to Henry Pelham
To his own Portrait half Length Supra Cṟ
£14 0 0
3 0 0
Balance due to H. Pelham
£11 0 0
Sir,—Please to pay the above ballance to Mṟ Isaac Clarke and his receipt shall be a Discharge in full from Sir
Your humble Serfṭ
Elihu Hall Esqr.
September tenth, 1774! Seven long months before the battles of Concord and Lexington, Henry Pelham wrote and forwarded these documents to his friend Isaac Winslow Clarke, whose sister was the wife of “brother Copley.” The letters reached Clarke too late, Colonel Hall, with his “half-length” portrait, having sailed for England.
Elihu Hall, a graduate of Yale College in 1731, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, 17 February, 1714, the son of the Hon. John and Mary (Lyman) Hall. In 1734 he was admitted to practice as an Attorney by the New Haven County Court, and rose to the position of a leading lawyer of that part of the Colony. For many years—certainly as early as 1744—he was King’s Attorney for the County. In 1743, and often afterwards, he sat for Wallingford in the General Assembly. Active in military affairs, he held the rank of Captain, and in the summer of 1746 raised a Company for the proposed Expedition against Canada. He subsequently rose to a Colonelcy. In January, 1757, he was one of four Special Commissioners sent by the General Assembly of Connecticut to Boston to confer with delegates from the other Colonies as to a plan for conducting the next campaign. At the Revolution he espoused the British side, and took refuge in England. He died in London early in 1784. His wife, whom he married 2 January, 1734, was Lois, eldest daughter of the Rev. Samuel Whittelsey, of Wallingford (Y. C. 1705), and a great-granddaughter of President Chauncy of Harvard College. She was born 28 November, 1714, and died 29 September, 1780, having borne her husband four sons and six daughters.23
After the departure from Boston of Richard Clarke, the father-in-law of Copley, and his sons, the business affairs were settled by a son-in-law, Henry Bromfield.24 After the excitement of the Revolutionary disturbances had subsided, the papers and business correspondence of the Clarkes were carried to the Bromfield mansion at Harvard, where they were carefully kept by succeeding generations; but especially were they treasured by Mrs. Blanchard, the granddaughter of Henry Bromfield, who, dying in Harvard on the twenty-ninth of November, 1876, bequeathed them to her kinsman, the late Dr. Daniel Denison Slade.25
Henry Pelham’s name appears in the list of American Loyalists, with those of John Singleton Copley, Richard Clarke, Isaac Winslow Clarke, and many others. Copley left Boston in June, 1774, and was followed, the next year, by his wife and all his children, save the youngest boy, who was left in the charge of his grandmother, Mrs. Pelham. They embarked at Marblehead, 27 May, 1775, “in the Minerva,—the last ship which sailed out of Massachusetts Bay under the British flag.”26
The departure of Copley for Europe doubtless caused Henry Pelham to leave Boston,—in 1776. Previous to his departure, in August, 1775, he drew a Plan of Boston, which bore his autograph, and was engraved in London, in aquatinta, in 1777. Dr. Belknap said of this work, in 1789, “I believe there is no more correct [plan] than Mr. Pelham’s.”27 By an interesting letter28 which Pelham wrote to Copley (23 September, 1795) on the eve of his son’s departure for Boston, to look after his father’s interests in the Beacon Hill estate, it appears that Pelham had the care of it during Copley’s absence from Boston, in 1771, 1774 and 1775, and that he made a map of this property over the title to which so many legal battles were fought.
In London, Pelham gave instruction in perspective, geography, and astronomy, at the same time painting portraits and miniatures; and in the Catalogue of the Royal Academy of 1778, his name appears as an exhibitor. That he was also an engraver in mezzotint is proved by a communication in London Notes and Queries29 respecting a portrait of the famous Countess of Desmond. Pelham married Miss Catherine Butler, daughter of William Butler, Esq., of Castle Crine,30 County Clare, Ireland, who died at the birth of twin sons, named, for their two grandfathers, Peter and William. Her death is referred to in the following letter addressed by Madam Pelham to Miss Sally Bromfield,31 then at Harvard, Mass.,—a daughter of Col. Henry Bromfield:—
My Dear Sady,—I duely note your kind and agreeable favṛ of the 6tḥ Insṭ which believe me I should have sooner answer’d but you well know my inability, and have not till now had an oportunity of doing it by means of a friend. I greatly regret your indisposition which prevented me the pleasure of seeing you, but hope [for] the pleasure of hearing you are better. I thank you for your kind intelligence from London, and in return have the pleasure to inform you that I have since Recḍ a Letter from Mṛ Copley of June 17. wherein he informs me that himself and Family are well, as also Mrṣ Rogers32 and Mṟ Clark,33 who all desire a tender remembrance to their connections here. Inclos’d is a Copy of the Inscription on my dear Harry’s Wife’s Tomb, which I have got Copied on purpose for you, that you may not be at the trouble of returning it. My best respects wait on your good parents, yourself and Sister and remain
[Copy of the Inscription.]
For Mrṣ Catherine Pelham’s Tomb Stone
by William Hayley Esqṛ34
Record thou faithful Marble Pelham’s worth
Who dying gave her double offspring birth,
Ye Babes! who know not in your infant state
Ye bought existence at too dear a rate
Rise with each promise parents can desire
To sooth the sufferings of your widow’d Sire
For Oh! if haply for his peace Ye prove
Adorn’d with all that claims parternal love
Scarce can that all compensate for the Wife
Who ceas’d to bless him when ye rose to Life.
Shortly after the date of this letter Miss Bromfield married the Rev. Eliphalet Pearson.35 The following letter, addressed to her at Cambridge, contains a charming picture of Mrs. Gardiner Greene,36 who is referred to as “Betsey”:—
My dear Mrs Pearson,—I know it will give you pleasure to hear that I have had a letter from my son Henry by the Febry Packet—he was then in London, and gives me the most pleasing accounts respecting my son Copley and his dear family—I shall transcribe what he says of my Grand Daughter Eliza as his pen will do more justice to her merit than any thing I can say on the subject—
“Your Grand Daughter Betsey is growing a very fine Girl, she is very handsome, but her disposition surpasses every praise I can bestow upon it, she has shewn an extraordinary taste in making artificial flowers, with which she has decorated an alcove in her father’s House, and has executed them with a taste so charming, and with so much nature and truth as to deceive every person who has seen them—The following very pretty lines will afford you some pleasure—they were wrote by Councillor King37 and addressed to Miss Copley, on seeing her alcove of Flowers:—
Hail mimic Art whose nice conceit
With just proportion fires the mind
Whose plastic touch with skill replete
So near allied to truth we find.
A Copley’s pencil bids us know
Of human Art the wondrous pow’r
If Pierson’s fate in paint can glow38
Why may not bloom the mimic flower?
Bright maid from such a parent sprung
Nature in thee beholds her Child,
Whether you form the tendrel young
Or deck the shoot with beauty mild.
Had Flora seen thy gay Alcove
The matchless offspring of thy Art
Those mellow’d tints that claim our love
To them their fragrance she’d impart.
She is now my pupil in Perspective and Geography for both which she has a great fondness, and learns them with great facility and ease. I shall soon have the pleasing task of teaching her the rudiments of Astronomy. John and Mary are both sensible good children—They were at home for a few days since my arrival and are now returned again to their Schools.”
I make no apology my dear Madm̱ for this long paragraph as I know the goodness of your heart leads you to partake of the happiness of your friends—I hope your health is perfectly re-established, assure you I was very anxious for you, and rejoie’d when I heard you was recovering—I have not seen your Father or Brother this some time, hope they are well, beg you will remember me kindly to them and to Mṟs̱ Rogers,39 Mrs. Startin40 and your sister Betsy—I hope now the spring is advancing you will visit Boston, I should be glad to see you or any of the family to whom I am bound by tender ties—My health is much as usual but my limbs fail me very much, thank God, I am free from acute pain, and the tenderness of my Children and knowledge of their welfare alleviates every mental pang—I should be glad to hear from you and thank you for your last kind letter which I ought to have notic’d before.
My kind regards to Mr Pearson whom I should be happy to see—I am with sincere
On the twenty-ninth of April, 1789, Mrs. Pelham died in Boston, having lived to see her sons Copley and Henry Pelham well established in their profession. Her sickness and death41 are referred to in the following letter of her step-son and executor:—
Boston, May 1, 1789.
Sir,—On the 29ṯẖ Ultọ Mrṣ Pelham departed this Life, and on Monday next I purpose to entomb her, when was it practicable I should have been very glad of your Company, but fear whether this will reach you before the Funeral will [be] over. You know the state in which she has lain near Two Years, no great perceptable alteration took place till within these Two or Three months, in which time she grew gradually weaker and weaker till within a Week of her death when she sunk into a stupor suffering great pain and distress, then gave up life without any struggle: thus has the good old Lady left us, rather to congratulate than bemoan her deliverance from a very long and almost uninterrupted course of misery.
There is in the house some pictures and Miss Scollay42 thinks some other things belonging to you. I shall be glad you would send me an account of them, and your orders concerning them, which shall be observ’d with care and punctuality. My best regards wait on you, being
Sir Your most obedient
Henry Bromfield, Esqṛ Chaṣ Pelham.
One of Copley’s earliest portraits represents Mrs. Margaret (Fayerweather) Bromfield, the first wife of Henry Bromfield of Boston and of Harvard, Massachusetts. She was a daughter of Thomas Fayerweather, a Boston merchant, was horn 19 March, 1732, and married Colonel Bromfield, 14 September, 1749.43 She died, of small pox, in Brookfield, Massachusetts, while on a journey for her health, 3 May, 1761.44 This picture is owned by Miss Margaret Bromfield Slade, daughter of our late associate Dr. Daniel Denison Slade of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The picture is not signed but, by tradition, has been known as the work of Copley.45
As we have already seen, Henry Pelham became Agent for Lord Lansdowne’s estates in Ireland, and was drowned in the river Kenmare, in 1806,46 by the upsetting of a boat. His twin sons never married. One of them received an appointment under the Crown and died in the West Indies. Thus ended this line of the Pelhams.
Mr. Abner C. Goodell, Jr., referring to Mr. Gay’s paper, read at the Stated Meeting in January, upon the engraving by Peter Pelham of the Smibert portrait of Sir William Pepperrell, which now hangs in the Essex Institute, said that, in commemoration of the capture of Louisburg, portraits were painted of Pepperrell, all in red, and of Admiral Sir Peter Warren, all in blue; and that both canvases hung in the Portsmouth Athenæum till early in this century, when the Pepperrell picture was sent to Salem through the intervention of the late George Atkinson Ward.