A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 15 February, 1899, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Edward Wheelwright, in the chair.
The Records of the Stated Meeting in January were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that since the last meeting letters had been received from Mr. Frederick Haines Curtiss accepting Resident Membership, and from President Angell, Mr. Edward Field, and Professor George Park Fisher, accepting Corresponding Membership.
President Wheelwright then said: —
As the one hundred and sixty-seventh anniversary of the birth of George Washington occurs one week from to-day, and before our next Meeting, this seems a proper occasion to present to the Society a photographic copy of a letter of that great man.
The copy was made a few years ago from the original, which is still in the possession of Mr. Herman Jackson Warner of Boston, but now resident abroad, in whose family it has been preserved as an heirloom. Mr. Warner is well known to several of our associates, having graduated at Harvard in 1850 in the same class with our associates John Noble and Augustus Lowell.
General Jonathan Warner, to whom this letter was addressed, was born at Hardwick, in the County of Worcester, Massachusetts, 14 July, 1744. At the beginning of the Revolutionary contest, he was Lieutenant of a militia company in his native town, was Captain of a company of minute-men, 1774, became Colonel in the same year, was promoted to be Brigadier-General by the General Court, 13 February, 1776, and in 1781 was made Major-General. He served through the Revolutionary War and after its close was largely instrumental in suppressing Shays’s Rebellion. He was re-commissioned Major-General in 1786, was honorably discharged on his voluntary resignation in December, 1789, and died 7 January, 1803.115 He was father of William Augustus Warner (H. C. 1815), and grandfather of the present possessor of the letter.
The Proclamation referred to in the letter is that issued by Washington on the twenty-fifth of January, 1777, declaring that “all persons who had accepted Lord Howe’s offer of protection must either retire within the British lines, or come forward and take the oath of allegiance to the United States.”116 This was just after Washington’s brilliant achievement of crossing the Delaware, fighting two successful battles, and driving the enemy out of the Jerseys. He had now taken up a strong position on the heights above Morristown. Here the main body of the American Army was posted, while the right wing under Putnam occupied Princeton and the left wing under Heath rested upon the Hudson. Bound Brook, where Brigadier-General Warner was stationed, was somewhat in advance of this line and nearer the British position. It is about twenty miles, as the crow flies, south of Morristown, and only about five miles from New Brunswick, from which it is separated by the Raritan River. New Brunswick, Amboy, and Paulus Hook were the three positions still retained by the British in New Jersey.
The text of Washington’s letter to General Warner, which is not found in either Sparks’s or Ford’s edition of Washington’s Writings, is as follows: —
Head Quarters Morristown 12th Feby 1777
That a proper line of Conduct may be observed towards the Inhabitants near the Enemy’s Lines, I would observe, that tho’ it is my desire to have the Terms & Conditions of my proclamation religiously complied with, yet I do not intend that it shall be made a Shelter for our Enemies to injure us under it with impunity. Those who wish to stay with us, till the expiration of the thirty days, for no other purposes than to convey Intelligence to the Enemy and poison our peoples minds, must and shall be compelled to withdraw immediately within the Enemy’s lines. Others who are hesitating which Side to take and behave friendly to us, till they determine, must be treated with lenity. Such as go over to the Enemy are not to take with them any thing but their Cloathing and furniture. Their Horses, Cattle, and Forage must be left behind. Such as incline to share our fate, are to have every Assistance afforded them that can be granted with Safety; neither Waggons nor Horses must be too much hazarded in doing this Business. The Effects of all persons in Arms against us must be seized and secured. I wish this line of Conduct to be observed by all our parties, for which purpose you will make them acquainted with my determination.
I am Sir
Yr. most obt. Servt.
To Brigr. Genl. Warner at Bound Brook.
I have also to offer for the inspection of the Society an original Indenture of Apprenticeship for ten years from 29 December, 1706, of Joseph Bentley, with consent of his mother, Margaret Bentley, widow, to Joseph White, mariner, and Sarah, his wife, all of Boston, dated 18 December, 1706, in the fifth year of the reign of Queen Anne. One of the witnesses signs himself, in very crabbed writing, Peregrine White, — not the original Peregrine, who had died two years before, but probably his son.
This document has been loaned for exhibition to the Society by Mr. William C. Codman of Boston.
Mr. Abner C. Goodell said he thought that the Indenture exhibited by the President was exceptionally interesting. The signature of Peregrine White was undoubtedly that of the son or grandson of the first-born American of English parentage in Plymouth Colony. In 1704, Peregrine, and Benoni, his brother, or son — probably the latter, since he is called “a lad” in the record — were in Boston, and were arrested for counterfeiting bills of public credit on the Province. They were subsequently convicted and sentenced.117
Mr. Denison R. Slade communicated two unpublished letters of James Lovell, and another from Samuel Adams to Col. Henry Bromfield. The text of these letters is as follows:—
To the Selectmen of Boston
Besides an application to your friendship made last Fall while I was in the Provost at Boston Mrs. Lovell118 I believe can show the Coppy of a Second proof of my Confidence in you since my Imprisonment at Halifax & I now proceed to give you a testimony of its continuance in Vigor by desiring you to Represent to propper Authority — that the treatment of prisoners here is not only Scandalous by neglecting all distinction of Rank but is also murderous by joining the nuisances & Infection of an Hospital to the Confinement and Common Miseries of a Jail —That we have been even thirty six & are now thirty in a single Leaky Room the Floor our Bedstead a thin flock Bed & pair of Blankets being the best provision for two, one has lingered & died in our Sight throh want of propper Nourishment & one has been long near the point of death not allowed the Comfort of removal to a Convenient place of Attendance while Several with Fluxes go in Continual Rotation to a Tub throh the Night when we are Close lockt in.
I am aware that the Humanity & Education of the Colonists will make them backward to retaliate these things and I suppose that all the Enemys Chiefs do not Conduct with the same Wanton or Willfull Cruelty therefore I cannot pretend to point out a general Alteration of the exceeding kind treatment & distinction which is shown to Prisoners in the Several United Colonies but I cannot help wishing that some particular Officers of like Rank with Colo. Aden,119 Capt. Proctor,120 Master Howland121 & his Mate Taylor122 in conjunction with some privates & a Counterpart to poor Carpenter123 & myself may be brought to wish for an Exchange & to petition Genl. Howe for it or at least to remonstrate to him upon the provocation which he has given for an alteration of their Limitts Lodgings & Diet. I mention Gent Howe because the Military Commander here is left with little more disereationary power than a Sergeant or an Ordinary Jailor.
To judge by appearances my life has been aimed at in what I have been obliged to undergo, therefore my Friends may Chuse to Communicate the Information which I now & then give under the cover of Authentic Intelligence rather than Extract of a Letter & be assured I pay a Sacred regard to the truth of Facts.
There is a formidable as well as Accursed Effort against the Colonies this year. May God defend & prosper the American Cause, & may you Personally & relatively enjoy Health & every domestic Happiness.
Your fellow Citizen Suffering at a distance from you I yet continue to be Sincerely
Gentlemen your Friend & Most Hble. Servt.
Decr. 4th. 1778.
I, this morning, received the inclosed from Baltimore, with a few Lines from my amiable young Friend your Son,126 and though I was only to forward it by a private Hand or put it into the Office, I will make this Bequest of his the Cause of my performing an agreeable Right of Civility & Gratitude to you, which an unbounded Portion of public Business will probably make me, as heretofore, neglect, without some accidental Stimulus, like the present, occuring.
On the Spur, then, of this Occasion I most affectionately salute you & your lovely Family. I will not be forgotten by my former charming Pupils, even if they are married. I retain a most pleasing Memory of them & their exemplary manners. Mrs. Bromfield127 must excuse me if remembring also her many enviable Qualities, I retain one visible Anecdote of her. She told her Daughter128 so lately as two years ago to “hold up her Head.” Well might the little Emblem of Uprightness show a rosey Streak of Wonder.
And now, Sir, finding my Brain relieved, by this little Exertion of Fancy, from the State into which it had been beaten by the Pros & Cons in a Discussion upon Finance, I think I can venture again upon the disagreeable Subject for a moment or two. While we are plodding here to reduce the Quantity of circulating Medium, cannot Associations be formed to discountenance one great Source of Depreciation which operates more strongly than even Quantity. I mean the speculating Spirit which is devouring us in geometrical Proportions. Taxation is doubtless our first object here and will most readily be received by all the People. Loan is another, if not the, second to be pursued; but then, Quere, foreign or domestic? How shall Monies now received in Loan be paid? As those received in 1776? Every Genius on the Continent with a Turn to Finance should throw his mite in to the Delegates of his particular State while that important Matter is in agitation.
I parted with your Brother Thomas129 this morning Decr. 5th. Your son probably will sail before his Uncle. But doubtless one or other of them decide this matter to you by Letter. I have only therefore to add renewed assurances of Regard as your affectionate obliged humble Servant.
Philada Sept 2, 1777.
My dear Sir
I am requested by a Member of Congress from South Carolina for whom I have a particular Regard, to introduce his Friend Mr Henry Crouch130 to some of my Boston Friends. He is a Merchant of Charlestown and will set off on a Visit your Way tomorrow. I take the Liberty of addressing a Letter to you by him. Your friendly Notice of him will greatly oblige me.
I heartily congratulate you on the happy Change of our Affairs at the Northward. The Feelings of a Man of Burgoyne’s Vanity must be sorely touched by this Disappointment.
Howe’s Army remains near where they first landed and is supposed to be ten thousand fit for Duty. Washington’s Army exceeds that Number, is in health & high Spirits, and the Militia have joynd in great Numbers, well equip’d and ambitious to emulate the Valor of their Eastern Brethren. Our light Troops are continually harrassing the Enemy. The Day before yesterday they attack’d their out Posts & drove them in, killing & wounding a small Number. By the last Account we had taken about seventy Prisoners without any Loss on our side. Our Affairs are at this Moment very serious and critical. We are contending for the Rights of our Country and Mankind — May the Confidence of America be placed in the God of Armies! Please to pay my due Respects to my old Friend Mr Phillips131 & his Family and be assured that I am very cordially
Henry Bromfield, Esq.
Henry Bromfield, Esq.
By Albert Matthews.
The first letter is not in Lovell’s handwriting, but is signed by him, and, presumably, was written from Halifax in August or September, 1776. Allen, in his Narrative, says that he and his fellow-prisoners “arrived at Halifax not far from the middle of June;” that they were kept “on board the prison-sloop about six weeks, and were landed at Halifax near the middle of August;” and that they were taken “from the prison-sloop to Halifax gaol, where I first became acquainted with the now Hon. James Lovel, Esq; one of the members of Congress for the State of Massachusetts-Bay” (pp. 21, 22). But here Allen’s recollection was a trifle at fault, for in a letter dated 8 August, 1776, he wrote: —
“The 5th instant I was landed, and the prisoners that have been with me, and put into the common jail in Halifax. We have the liberty of the yard in the daytime. In this prison I found the wise and patriotick Mr. James Lovell, from Boston, who has greatly contributed to conversable happiness, and supplied me with the comforts of life” (American Archives, Fifth Series, i. 860, 861).
Hence, Lovell’s letter could hardly have been written before August.
In November, 1775, Gen. Howe had suggested the exchange of Lovell for Col. Skene of New York; and the negotiations which, after the lapse of nearly a year, finally resulted in this exchange, may be followed in the American Archives, Fourth Series, iv. 314, 315, 974, 975, 1633, vi. 1075, 1076; Fifth Series, i. 380, 381, 500, 502, 510, 587, 679, 711, 727, 766, 820, 1590, ii. 437, and iii. 556. An interesting Report on the Exchange of Prisoners during the American Revolution is in 1 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 19 December, 1861, v. 325–*347. Lovell reached Boston 30 November, 1776.
James Lovell, one of the most distinguished of the early patriots of Boston, was born 31 October, 1737; graduated at Harvard College in 1756; was usher in the Boston Latin School from 1757 to 1775; was master of the North Grammar, now Eliot, School; was appointed Receiver of Continental taxes in 1784; in 1788 and 1789, was Collector for the port of Boston; and was Naval Officer of Boston from 1790 till his death, 14 July, 1814, at Windham, Maine (Loring’s Hundred Boston Orators, 1853, pp. 29–37; and Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xxiv. 230). Lovell is best remembered as the first of the Boston Fifth-of-March Orators. His Oration, made 2 April, 1771, fills pp. 7–16 of the Orations delivered at the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, to Commemorate the Evening of the Fifth of March, 1770. Son of John Lovell, the famous schoolmaster, who differed from him politically, James Lovell ardently espoused the popular cause as against the Ministry, and later took up arms against the King. It was while a prisoner on the charge of treason or rebellion that he wrote the letter addressed to the Selectmen of Boston. For glimpses of Lovell during his confinement in Boston, see the Journal of John Leach, and extracts from the Journal of Peter Edes, both kept in Boston Gaol from 19 June till 4 October, 1775, in New England Historical and Genealogical Register for 1865, xix. 256–262. The originals of both Journals are in the possession of our associate Mr. Henry H. Edes. (Cf. 1 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for December, 1871, xii. 176–181; and Catalogue of the Boston Public Latin School (1886), pp. 19 and note, and 163.) The following extracts are also of interest: —
“BOSTON, June 27. Monday last came from Newbury-Port a young man belonging to this town, who informs that he left Halifax 30 days ago, that . . .he saw master JAMES LOVELL, who was cruelly confin’d in Boston goal by order of Gen. Gage, for 10 months, and from thence taken with the Bunker-Hill prisoners and carried to Halifax, and committed to prison, where he remained when our informant came away; that he kept up his spirits with surprising firmness amidst the accumulated insults and injuries he had received, and had petitioned Gen. Howe for tryal or to be liberated, or sent to England for tryal” (Boston-Gazette of Monday, 1 July, 1776, No. 2002, p. 1/2).
“Last Saturday Evening, arrived in this Town, from Halifax, via New-York, (after a long and cruel Imprisonment,) the Hon. James Lovel, Esq; to the no small Joy of the Inhabitants of the Capital of this State.
“We hear that the honorable Francis Dana, and the honorable James Lovel, Esqrs; are chosen Delagates, to represent this State, in General Congress, in Addition to the five Members now present, at Philadelphia” (Ibid, of Monday, 2 December, 1776, No. 1124, p. 3/2).
“In a few weeks after this I had the happiness to part with my friend Lovel, (for his sake, who the enemy affected to treat as a private; he was a gentlemen of merit, and liberally educated, but had no commission; they maligned him on account of his unshaken attachment to the cause of his country)” (E. Allen, Narrative, p. 25).
It was through Lovell, it is interesting to note, that a meeting was brought about between John Trumbull, the future artist, and Copley. In January, 1772, Trumbull, as he himself tells us, —
“was sent to Cambridge, under the care of my brother,132 who in passing through Boston indulged me by taking me to see the works of Mr. Copley. His house was on the Common, where Mr. Sears’s elegant granite palazzo now  stands. A mutual friend of Mr. Copley and my brother, Mr. James Lovell, went with us to introduce us. We found Mr. Copley dressed to receive a party of friends at dinner. I remember his dress and appearance — an elegant looking man, dressed in a fine maroon cloth, with gilt buttons — this was dazzling to my unpracticed eye! — but his paintings, the first I had ever seen deserving the name, riveted, absorbed my attention, and renewed all my desire to enter upon such a pursuit” (Autobiography, Reminiscences and Letters, pp. 11, 40–48).
See the Political Magazine for December, 1780, and February, 1781, i. 756, 757, ii. 79, 80; Sparks’s Correspondence of the American Revolution, i. 408–414; Ford’s Writings of Washington, iii. 288, 385, iv. 286 note, 309, 317 note, vi. 199 note, vii. 17 note, ix. 152; 1 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, v. 8–12, vii. 194, 195, viii. 323, xi. 141, xii. 176, xiii. 127, 128; and J. T. Austin’s Life of Elbridge Gerry, i. 336–344.
Mr. Robert N. Toppan said: —
I wish to call the attention of the members of the Society to the omission of a date in the original Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, which led the Editor of the official printed copy into an error which, in turn, misled Dr. Palfrey in his admirable History of New England. Although the mistake may appear trifling, it would seem to be the duty of this Society, whose Publications are noted for their accuracy, to point out any historical error, however trivial.
In the original Records of the General Court, which were written by Edward Rawson, the Secretary of the Colony, the last entry made related to an adjournment.133 The Charter of the Colony having been vacated by process of law in England, a temporary Government was established in Massachusetts by the King, Joseph Dudley being selected as President. His authority was to continue until the arrival of a Royal Governor from the mother country. The General Court, having had notice served upon it by Dudley of his appointment, decided to adjourn to a fixed date. The colonists hoped for a reversal of the judgment annulling their Charter, and it was therefore necessary to preserve a legal continuity. The reasonableness of their hope is shown by the fact that Sir Thomas Powis, the Attorney General of James II., gave his official opinion that “the Charter had been illegally vacated.”134 Opposite the last entry made by Secretary Rawson, which reads —
there is no date, and there is no space or break between that entry and the preceding one to indicate in any way that the General Court met on two different days. The entry preceding that of adjournment is dated by Rawson “20th. May, 1686,” which is correct, but by his neglect to add the numerals 21 at the side of the entry of adjournment, the Editor of the official printed Records was led to believe that the adjournment took place on the twentieth, and it is so printed.135 This date was naturally accepted by Dr. Palfrey, who had no reason to doubt of the accuracy of the Editor.136
Judge Sewall, in his Diary,137 states distinctly that the General Court adjourned on the twenty-first. Under the date of Friday, 21 May, 1686, he writes: —
“The Magistrates and Deputies goe to the Governour’s . . . The Adjournment which had been agreed before, Second Wednesday in October next at 8 aclock in the Morning, was declared by the Weeping Marshal-Generall. Many Tears Shed in Prayer and at parting.”
A confirmation of the date given by Sewall is found in a letter of Edward Randolph written from Boston to the Committee for Trade and Plantations, dated 23 August, 1686, in which he says:—
“the late Generall Court being vpon an adjournment continued, made vpon ye 21 of May last & are to meet at 8 aClock in ye morning vpon ye second Wednesday in October next: and as yet ye President & Council, tho’ often moued by my selfe that their adjournmt ought to be declared illegall, haue done nothing to discountenance that act.”138
During the discussion which followed, Mr. Abner C. Goodell and Mr. John Noble mentioned several other errors made by Rawson, Mr. Noble remarking that in one place in the General Court Records he records a session of sixteen consecutive days including two Sundays.
Mr. Charles K. Bolton then said: —
The responsibility of an author for his views expressed in print has always been a subject of interest. The case of John Colman,139 in Boston, in 1720, excited much comment at the time, and the pamphlets which he wrote are still frequently mentioned;140 but there is little said of the author’s arrest.
At a “Council held at ye Councl Chamber in Boston upon Tuesday Ap. 12th 1720,” the Governor, Samuel Shute, being present —
“His Excellency communicated to ye Board a Pamphlett lately printed & published in Boston entituled, The distressed State of the Town of Boston considered in a Letter from a Gentleman in ye Town to his friend in ye Country, upon Reading ye same ye Board were of Opinion That ye sd Pamphlett contains in many passages reflecting upon ye Acts & Laws of ye Province & other proceedings of ye Governmt. & has a tendency to disturb the administration of ye Governmt. as well as the publick Peace & thereupon
“Voted That ye Justices of ye Peace at their Genl Sessions enquire after ye authors & publishers of the sd Pamphlet & proceed therein according to Law & Justice.”141
Sewall, in his Diary (III. 250), under date of 12 April, relates that —
“The Govr in Council said he had met with a Libel; producing it; it ap̄eared to be the distressed estate of Boston: I had not seen it before. Council order’d the Sessions to inquire after the Author and printer and to do with them according to Law.”
The vote of the Council was carried out, as will be seen by the following reference to the “Libel” in the Records of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace (folio 37), at an adjournment held at Boston on the twenty-fifth day of April, 1720. I quote from a manuscript142 in the Boston Athenæum: —
“Upon an Informacõn from ye Governour & Council to this Court that there has lately been printed & published in Boston a Pamphlet entituled the distressed State of the Town of Boston &c Considered in a letter from a Gentleman in the Town to his friend in the country Concerning which the Council Board (upon reading the same) were of opinion the sd Pamphlet contains in it many Passages reflecting upon the Acts & Laws of the Province & other proceedings of the Governmt as well as the Publick peace the Sd Book was brot. into the Court & read & John Colman of Boston mercht being sent for by the Court & questioned whether he was the author of Sd book acknowledged that he was.
“Ordered That the Sd John Colman recognize to His Majesty in the sum of £50 with 2 sureties in £25 each to answer at the next Court to what shall be objected agt him more especially relating to Sd Book & to be of good behaviour the declaring this Order be referred to ye adjournmnt of the Court on Monday at 9 of clock aforenoon.”
Meanwhile Colman’s advocacy of the Private Bank project and an inflation of the currency caused the publication of Wigglesworth’s reply, — A Letter from One in the Country to his Friend, in Boston, etc.,143 dated 23 April, and of other pamphlets. At the adjournment of the Court of General Sessions, on Monday, May second, Colman was ordered to recognize in the sum of £50 “with 2 sureties in £25 on Condition that he appear at the Sessions in July next,” etc. The sureties were James Gooch144 and Stephen Minot.145
From other duties, or from a wish “to be of good behavior” until his case came up at the Sessions in July, Colman published no reply to his critics at this time. The next official record of his case is disappointingly meagre; it chronicles the first business of the Court held at Boston on the fifth of July, 1720: —
Colman very soon prepared a reply to his chief critic, in which he advised “the Gentleman to stick to Divinity for the future.” This pamphlet — The Distressed State of the Town of Boston Once more Considered — was dated the twentieth of July of the same year.148
By Henry H. Edes.
John Colman was a conspicuous figure in the social and commercial life of Boston during the latter part of the seventeenth, and the first half of the eighteenth, century. His connection with the financial history of the Province and with the apprehension of Capt. John Quelch, the pirate, and his companions has been already shown in these pages (ante, iii. 10, 12–14, 17, 72, 75). The fact that so little is generally known of him is doubtless owing, in large degree, to his having been overshadowed in the public mind by his younger brother, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Colman, the first minister of the Church in Brattle Square. Between the brothers there was a close bond of affection, fully attested by Dr. Colman’s will, dated 25 March, 1747, which contains this passage: —
“Item. I Remit and Give up to my beloved Brother John Colman, Esqr: his Bond to me for One hundred pounds, with the Interest due thereon, . . . . as a small Acknowledgment of my great Obligations to him, for his Bounties to me in my youth” (Suffolk Probate Files, No. 8827).
William Colman, the father of these brothers, was the son of Matthew and Grace Colman of Sotterley, near Beccles, in the County of Suffolk, where he was baptized 31 August, 1643. He resided for a time in London, and came hither in the “Arabella” with his wife Elizabeth. In 1676 his name appears on the Roll of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, of which he was third sergeant in 1683 and ensign in 1692 (Roberts’s History of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, i. 242). He was much employed in town affairs and was of the first board of Overseers of the Poor chosen 9 March, 1690–91 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, vii. 206). Two children were born to him in Boston, — Mary, 3 December, 1671, and Benjamin, 19 October, 1673. He died in Boston, 27 March, 1712 (Sewall’s Diary, ii. 342). Cf. Turell’s Life of Benjamin Colman, p. 210.
There has been preserved in the Bulfinch family a valuable, unpublished private record, wholly in the handwriting of John Colman, of which the following is a verbatim copy: —
John Colman was Married in Boston N England To Judeth The Daughter of Mr William and Ann Hobby, July the 19th 1694. Shee dyed February 1st 1741/2
Shee was 20 years old when I married her & we lived togather 47 years 6 mo 12 dayes.
- 1 May ye 8th: 1695, My Wife was delivered of a dead Child, a Daughter,
- Son 2 February 28th: 1696/7 was born my first Son named John, being Satterday, about Seven in the Evening, and died the 12th. of Aprill following Lived Six Weeks.
- Son 3 December 15th: 1698, was born, William, being Thursday about Two in ye Morning and died October 31, 1702, he lived 3 years 10 months 16 dayes.
- 4 On this Sabbath August 4th: 1700 about Twelve of the Clock, or noon, was born Ann and died November 15th: 1718, Shee lived 18 years, 3 Months, 11 dayes.
Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts from a portrait by Smibert in possession of Miss Ellen M. Ward
- Son 5 Aprill 23d: 1702, My wife was delivered of a Son, which died in the birth.
- Son 6 On Thursday March ye 2d. 1703/4 about Eight in the Evening, was born, a Second Son Named John — was Married Decr: 26, 1734 To Mrs Sarah Payne.
- 7 On Wensday May ye 8th: 1706 about Ten in the Morning, was born, Elizabeth, and Died October 17th: 1707, Shee lived, Seventeen months, nine dayes.
- 8 On Thursday May ye 2d: 1707 about Eight in the Morning was born a daughter named Judeth — was Maried To Doctre Tho: Bulfinch June 11th. 1724.
- 9 On Munday the fourteenth of February 1708/9 about Eight of the Clock in the Morning, Sarah was born, was Married to Mr. Peter Chardon Decembr. 7th. 1733149 and died the last of November 1749.
- Son 10 On Tewsday November ye 28th: 1710. at one the Morning Benjamin was born and was Married to Mrs Deborah Oulton March ye 24th 1736. Shee dyed Octo 12. 1738 and he married agane to Mrs Hannah Pemberton Augt. 16. 1739.
- Son 11 On July 26,: 1712, My Wife was delivered of a Son, Still born.
- Son 12 On Munday ye 24th: of August 1713 at four in ye afternoon, was born a Second Son named William, which died the 6th. of Septr. following, Lived but 13 dayes.
- Son 13 On ye 20 of June 1716, my Wife was delivered of a Son, Still born.
- 14 On ye 23d. of December 1718, My Wife was delivered of a Daughter, Still born.
An Accot of my Marrage, and of the Births of all my Children, written from my originali Records, August the 4th. 1738.
- May: 8. 1795 
- Feb: 28. 1696/7
- Decr 15. 1698
- Augt. 4. 1700
- Apr: 23. 1702
- Mar: 2. 1703/4
- May 8. 1706
- May 2. 1707
- Feb. 14. 1708/9
- Novr. 28. 1710
- July 26. 1712
- Augt. 24. 1713
- June 20. 1716
- Decr. 23. 1718
I was born in London upon Tower Hill Jana 3d 1670/1. Came to NEngland at two Years old; anno 1750/1 Janua. 3d I am this day 80 years old
The two lines added by Colman on the eightieth anniversary of his birth are in an infirm hand.
From the time he was twenty-six years old, John Colman was active in the public affairs of the Town, holding and declining various minor offices before and after his election as a Selectman (1713), and as an Overseer of the Poor (1715). With Elisha Cooke and other leading citizens, he served on many important committees; among others, one to consider the proposed establishment of a Spinning School (1720) for the instruction of the children of the Town (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, vii., viii., xi., xii., passim). In 1699, he was a Founder of the Church in Brattle Square, — stigmatized as the “Manifesto Church” by the Mathers, with whose church his own and his wife’s family, the Hobbys,150 had previously been connected. Sir Charles Hobby was Colman’s brother-in-law, and among the Probate papers of the knight’s insolvent estate (1715) is a long account of Colman’s and a petition of Lady Elizabeth Hobby which prove that Hobby left a son and more than one daughter,151 notwithstanding it has been often stated in print that he left no issue (Suffolk Probate Files, No. 3690). In this connection the following advertisement is of interest: —
“TWo Negro men, and one Negro Woman & Child; to be Sold by Mr. John Colman, Merchant; to be seen at Col. Charles Hobbey, Esq; at his house in Boston” (Boston News-Letter of Monday, 29 May, to Monday, 5 June, 1704, No. 7, p. 2/2; and No. 8, p. 2/2).
In August, 1705, Colman declared himself —
“Deputed ⅌ the Honoble John Dod Esqr the Receivr. of the rights and Perquisites of his Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark Lord High Admiral of England &a to receive wt. might become due to his Royal Highness in these parts” (Massachusetts Archives, ii. 154).
In May, 1706, he signed the Petition of the Boston merchants to the General Court asking it to memorialize the Home Government to establish a monthly “Packett” from England to the New England colonies (Province Laws, viii. 623, 624).
In 1708, Colman’s warehouse was “nigh the Swinging Bridge” which crossed the Town Dock from Merchants Row to North Street (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 84). Cf. Suffolk Deeds, xix. 376, and xx. 548, 549, 555. In February, 1722–23, liberty was granted by the Selectmen to Jonathan Belcher and John Colman “to Erect Each of them a ware house upon the Long wharfe according to their Petion Entred in the Booke for Recording Timber Buildings” (Ibid. xiii. 109). On the twenty-ninth of March, 1734, with others, he promised the Town “that the end of the Long Wharf should speedily be put into a proper posture and condition to plant Guns upon” (Ibid. xii. 75).
In 1731, John Colman was given a Commission of the Peace (Whitmore’s Civil List, p. 128).
Colman’s mansion-house was on the northerly side of Hanover Street, on a part of the site of the American House, being contiguous, on the east, to the estate of Judge John Saffin (see ante, i. 87 note). Colman bought the estate, for £220, of Henry Alline, 19 September, 1703 (Suffolk Deeds, xxi. 486). The lot measured 37 feet on Hanover Street and extended back 350 feet, and was a part of the original Possession of Governor Leverett. In 1709, and 1710, Colman, with others, undertook to lay a pavement at the upper end of Hanover Street, for which they were paid by the Town (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 107, 115). He conveyed this Hanover Street property, in two parcels: (1) the rear portion, about 38 by 120 feet, which had also a frontage on Cold Lane (now Portland Street) to his son John Colman, Jr., 27 August, 1742 (Suffolk Deeds, lxiv. 14); and (2) the front part, — “all that Messuage where I now dwell” —37 by 233 feet, to his son Benjamin Colman, 15 August, 1747 (Suffolk Deeds, lxxiv. 49).
Colman owned another valuable estate which now (1899) makes the easterly corner of Bowdoin Square and Chardon Street. He bought it 1 March, 1711–12, of the heirs of Major Anthony Haywood, who died 10 October, 1689, when, and subsequently, it was known as “The Bowling Green.” Haywood’s widow Margaret had married John Colman’s father, William Colman, 30 June, 1692 (Suffolk Deeds, xiii. 171, xv. 212, xxvi. 162; Suffolk Probate Files, No. 1710; Suffolk Probate Records, xxii. 56; Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix. 203; Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary of New England, ii. 394). Colman conveyed to his prospective son-in-law, Peter Chardon, 12 November, 1733, the westerly portion of this estate (78 by 250 feet), on the front of which now stands the Baptist Tabernacle (Suffolk Deeds, xlviii. 50); and to his son-in-law Dr. Thomas Bulfinch, 28 September, 1737, the easterly part (70 by 222 feet), “whereon he hath lately built himself an house and stable,” which is now covered in part by the Coolidge House (Ibid. liv. 249).
At a meeting of the Selectmen, held 26 September, 1711 —
“Liberty is granted to Isaac Addington Esqr to the children of Capt. Nathll Green deceased and to Mr John Colman, to break ground in the Old burying place [King’s Chapel Ground] to make three Tombs vizt. one for each family” (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 148).
The Boston Evening Post of Monday, 23 September, 1751, No. 840, p. 2/1, contains the following announcement: —
“BOSTON . . . . Thursday last [19 September] died suddenly, in a very advanced Age, John Colman, Esq; formerly a noted Merchant of this Town.”
John Colman’s estate never came into the Probate Court for the reason that he had conveyed his property to his four surviving children during his lifetime, as we have already seen. His portrait and those of his wife, of his son Benjamin, and of his daughter-in-law, Hannah (Pemberton) Colman are in the possession of Miss Ellen M. Ward of Boston, a descendant, — the canvases of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Colman being at present in the custody of Colman Ward Cutler, M.D., of New York City. The portrait of Hannah (Pemberton) Colman is remarkably beautiful and is believed to have been painted by Blackburn; the others are from the brush of Smibert. They are described by Augustus T. Perkins in 1 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for May, 1879 (xvii. 95), where they are erroneously said to belong to the late Henry Davenport. The date of Mrs. Benjamin Colman’s marriage is also erroneously given as 1737.
By Henry H. Edes.
James Gooch was a valuable citizen of Boston, whither he came from Wells in the then province of Maine. His grandfather, John Gooch, was at York as early as 1640, when his wife, Ruth, was summarily dealt with by the Court for her improper relations with the Rev. George Burdett of unsavory memory (1 Maine Historical Society’s Collections, edition of 1865, i. 365, 366); was a freeman, 1652; removed to Wells, where he was a Selectman in 1653 (Massachusetts Colony Records, iii. 334); and died early in 1667. Bourne says that he first settled at Newbury (History of Wells and Kennebunk, Maine, p. 78. Cf. Massachusetts Colony Records, i. 266). His will, dated 7 May and proved 12 July, 1667, mentions wife Ruth, sons John and James, and several grandchildren, and bequeaths to his son James a house, garden, and orchard in Slimbridge, in the hundred of Berkeley (the birthplace of Dr. Edward Jenner), Gloucestershire, England, which he had bought of William Hammond (Maine Wills, pp. 32, 33); from which it is inferred that the emigrant came hither from Slimbridge.
James Gooch, the emigrant’s son, was a substantial citizen of Wells. While returning home from meeting on Sunday, 24 September, 1676, he was shot down from his horse by the Indians in ambush near the Garrison-house at one end of the town. The Indians then knocked down and wounded his wife, who died within three days (Hubbard’s Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New England, Drake’s edition, ii. 182).
Captain James Gooch, son of the preceding, was born in 1665, presumably at Wells. At the memorable attack on Wells by the Indians on the ninth and tenth of June, 1692, he commanded one of the two sloops which played an important part in that affair (Mather’s Decennium, Luctuosum, reprinted in the Magnalia, 1702, Book vii., pp. 78–81; Niles’s Narrative in 3 Massachusetts Historical Collections, vi. 228). About this time, he removed to Boston (Record of Admissions to the First Church, 1692; Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix. 207). His name appears in the List of Inhabitants in 1695 (Ibid. i. 163). On the ninth of June, 1698, James Gooch of Boston, mariner, eldest son and heir of his father, James Gooch, late of Wells, yeoman, deceased, and Elizabeth his wife, sell and convey to John Wheelwright of Wells, several parcels of land formerly belonging to his late father (York Deeds, iv. 125). In June, 1700, James Gouge (as the name was often spelled)152 petitioned the General Court on behalf of the town of Wells for assistance in rebuilding its meeting-house, and in other ways, because of its losses during the Indian Wars (Province Laws, vii. 612. Cf. Williamson’s History of Maine, ii. 29). He took an active part in the affairs of the town as early as 1700, when he was chosen Constable (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, vii. 239); and he held other minor offices until 1714, when he was elected an Overseer of the Poor, — an office which he continued to hold till 1729 (Ibid, viii., xii., passim). He served also on various town Committees, — among others, on that to prepare Instructions for the town’s Representatives in the General Court, in 1722 (Ibid. viii. 166). He was also prominent in the affairs of the First Church, served on the Committee appointed to rebuild the Meeting House after the great fire of 3 October, 1711, and, in April, 1713, was appointed with Dr. Elisha Cooke and others to “be seaters of ye New meeting house, now built” and to dispose of the seats and pews as they might deem most advantageous to the parish (Records of the First Church). In a List of “Vessells Entred in ye Month April 1712 “at the Impost Office in Boston, signed by Daniel Russell, Commissioner, in the cabinet of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, is this entry:—
“8th Peter Papillon ye Ship Sarah from London
Twenty Nine Mariners
James Gouge Gentleman.”
(New England Historical and Genealogical Register for 1876, xxx. 40.) It is possible that Captain Gooch had been in England on business connected with the estate at Slimbridge of which we have already spoken.
Captain James Gooch was thrice married. His first wife was Hannah Emmans153 of Charlestown, to whom he was married 10 February, 1691–92 (Charlestown Town Records). She was admitted to the First Church in Boston, 25 September, 1692. Their son James, who also enjoyed the title of Captain, was born 12 October, 1693; married (1) Elizabeth Hobby,154 doubtless one of the daughters of Sir Charles Hobby, and (2) Hester Plaisted; was one of Prince’s Subscribers; one of the Founders, and the first Deacon, of the West Church; and removed to Hopkinton, Massachusetts, where he was a Justice of the Peace (Records of the First Church, Church in Brattle Square, and West Church; Suffolk Probate Files, No. 3690; Whitmore’s Massachusetts Civil List, p. 137; and Suffolk Deeds, lxi. 253). Mrs. Hannah Gooch died 15 March, 1694–95 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix. 219). Her husband had been baptized and admitted to the First Church on the twenty-ninth of the preceding April; and his purpose of marriage with Elizabeth Peck, daughter of John Peck, and grand-daughter of Thomas Peck, senior, was entered 15 August, 1695 (Ibid, xxviii. 348; and Suffolk Probate Files, No. 2556). The fruit of this marriage, beside a child who died in infancy, was a daughter, Elizabeth, born 17 March, 1697–98, who married (1) Capt. John Hubbart and (2) John Franklin, an older brother of Dr. Benjamin Franklin; a son, John, born 23 October, 1699, who, in 1735, subscribed £50 toward building a public workhouse, and was otherwise active in the public service; and another son, Colonel Joseph Gooch (H. C. 1720), born 18 November, 1700, who was bred to the law at the Temple, was Representative, Colonel in the Militia, and Justice of the Peace, living, successively, at Boston, Braintree, and Milton, where he died, 9 February, 1770. John Adams (Works, ii. 93) has drawn the character of Colonel Gooch with a trenchant pen. (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix., passim, xii. 183, xiv. 80,168, xxiv. and xxviii., passim; Suffolk Probate Files, No. 2556; Suffolk Deeds, lxxxii. 139; Whitmore’s Massachusetts Civil List, p. 128; Boston Evening-Post of Monday, 19 February, 1770, No. 1795, p. 3/1; and Teele’s History of Milton, p. 130.) Mrs. Elizabeth Gooch died 1 April, 1702 (Boston Town Records), and on the twelfth of November following, Captain Gooch consoled himself by taking a third wife, Sarah Tuthill, erroneously spelled Tultle in the marriage record (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xxviii. 4. Cf. Sewall’s Diary, ii. 117, note).
Captain Gooch owned several pieces of valuable real estate in Boston. His mansion house and garden made the northerly corner of Mackerel Lane (now Kilby Street) and what is now Doane Street, and there he lived from the autumn of 1695 — just after his marriage to Elizabeth Peck — till his death in 1738. The garden made the corner of the lot, and had a frontage of about twenty-eight feet on Kilby Street, and thirty-two feet on Doane Street; while the homestead had a frontage of fifty-six feet on Doane Street and extended back, towards State Street, twenty-eight and a half feet. The whole estate comprised all the frontage on Doane Street from Kilby Street to the present site of the Fiske Building, — about eighty-eight feet. Gooch bought the property from Thomas and Elizabeth Peck and their daughter Faith Waldo by deeds dated 5 and 28 September, 1695, and 30 March, 1098 (Suffolk Deeds, xviii. 106, 108, 224; and lxi. 253, 254). See Appendix to A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Joseph Peck (Boston, 1868), pp. 267–277; and Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix., passim.
The Boston Evening-Post of Monday, 5 June, 1738, No. 147, p. 2/1, contains this paragraph: —
BOSTON. On Tuesday last [30 May] died here, after a long and tedious Indisposition, Capt. James Gooch, in the 73d Year of his Age; and on Saturday he was very honourably interred.
The New England Weekly Journal of Tuesday, 6 June, 1738, No. 581, p. 2/1. has this notice: —
BOSTON . . . . On Tuesday last died after a long and tedious Confinement with the Palsy, Mr. James Gooch, of this Town Merchant, in the 73d Year of his Age, and on Saturday Evening following was Interr’d in a handsome and decent Manner.
Captain Gooch was, doubtless, buried in Tomb No. 3 in the South [Granary] Burying Place, which had been assigned to him by the Selectmen, 13 April, 1721 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xiii. 80, 184). His will disposes of a very good estate, and contains legacies to the ministers and the poor of the First Church (Suffolk Probate Files, No. 7150).
I am indebted to our associate, Mr. Frederick Lewis Gay, for valuable assistance in the preparation of this note.
By Henry H. Edes.
Jeremiah Belknap of Boston, leather-dresser, grandfather of the historian, Dr. Jeremy Belknap, was born 1 January, 1686–87 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, ix. 168); married Sarah Fosdike (or Fosdick) 3 November, 1709 (Ibid, xxviii. 22); joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company 1711 (Roberts’s History, i. 373); was admitted a member of the Old South Church 9 March, 1711–12, as his wife had been 8 May, 1709 (Church Records); and was chosen one of the Selectmen in 1747 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xiv. 107).
At a meeting of the Selectmen, 2 April, 1711, it was —
“Agreed to Lett unto Jeremiah Belknap a Shop extending from ye door way to the Soly corner of ye Town House wch is to be Erected there, for the Term of Seven years to Comence the first of June next, and for the first years rent he is to be at ye charge of building ye Sd Shop, & to pay ten pounds ⅌ annum quarterly for ye next 6 years, he to maintaine & deliver up ye Same in Good repaire” (Ibid. xi. 129, 140).
In the Book of Possessions, we find under the name of Richard Bellingham —
“1. One house and Lott about a quarter of an acre, bounded on the east with the streete: Christopher Stanley, John Biggs, James Browne, and Alexander Becke on the south: Joshua Scotto on the west; and Mr. William Tyuge on the north” (Ibid. ii. 168).
On the second of July, 1709, this property was conveyed by Governor Bellingham’s heirs to Joseph Hiller155 of Boston, tinplate worker, for £400 by an indenture, executed in London, which contains matter of interest and value to those interested in the genealogy of the Bellinghams. The property is described as a messuage or tenement and land in Boston (Suffolk Deeds, xxv. 130). On the eighteenth of September, 1717, for £1,150, Hiller conveyed the house and a part of the land “in Cornhill Street in Boston,” bounded: east on the street, 21 feet 5½ inches; north on land of Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, 175 feet; west on Brattle Street (Franklin Avenue was then so called), 21 feet 9½ inches; and south on other land of Hiller, 174 feet, to Jeremiah Belknap of Boston, leather-dresser (Suffolk Deeds, xxxii. 70). This house was built in 1712 and replaced the one destroyed by the great fire of 1711 (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 153, 155, 156,171, 172, 176). This estate remained in Belknap’s possession and occupancy till his death, and in the division of his real estate, made in 1754 by his heirs among themselves, it is accurately described in two parcels (Suffolk Deeds, cxv. 129; Suffolk Probate Records, xlix. 742). It will be remembered that the lower part of Washington Street was then known as Cornhill. The present thoroughfare bearing that name was laid out in 1816, and that part of it which lies between Franklin Avenue and Washington Street traverses the Belknap estate, which was thereby obliterated.
At a meeting of the Selectmen, 30 August, 1725, “Liberty is granted to mr Jerā Belknap to build a Toomb,” — No. 33, on the south line, in the Granary Burying Ground (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xiii. 143, 184). Belknap died in 1751, his will, dated 8 June, 1750, having been proved 13 August of the following year (Suffolk Probate Files, No. 9809). See Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 113, 134,135; and New England Historical and Genealogical Register for 1859, xiii. 17, 18.
Mr. John Noble read extracts from the forthcoming Second volume of the Records of the Court of Assistants (1673–1692) and exhibited some remarkable photogravures of certain pages of these Records made by Mr. A. W. Elson for insertion in the printed book. A long discussion ensued, in which several of the Members participated.
Mr. Abner C. Goodell spoke in praise of the work done by Mr. Noble towards perfecting the Records of the Colonial Court of Assistants. Continuing, Mr. Goodell said: —
The loss of the First volume is greatly to be deplored. When it disappeared is not known. The late David Pulsifer was once heard to declare that he thought he remembered it; but some years later, upon being questioned about it particularly, was not so sure that he had ever seen it. There is just a possibility that it may some day come to light, but in the meanwhile we must be content with the extracts from it found in papers scattered among the files of the Superiour Court of Judicature, and upon the Files themselves covering the period of this volume. In the work he has now accomplished, Mr. Noble seems to have saved us the labor of collecting these scattered details, and in so doing has made a most valuable addition to available sources of history.
The entire record of the highest judicatory of the Colony established for administering justice and, with the exception of a few years during the Usurpation, existing from 1630 to 1692, is a repertory of legal information which has been very sparingly utilized but which must yield to the competent student many new and important facts bearing upon the development of our jurisprudence.
The instances to which Mr. Noble has called our attention are not only interesting as curiosities, but they show, among other things, the important fact that, in Colonial times, even in capital cases, the accused might waive a Jury Trial and be tried, convicted, and sentenced by the Bench. This seems to have resulted from giving a literal interpretation to the usual question put to the prisoner at the bar, — “How will you be tried?” and his answer thereto. If his reply was “By God and my country,” the case went to the Jury, but if he expressed a desire to be tried by the Judges alone, the case proceeded in that manner to final judgment.
All through the Colonial and Provincial periods, in capital cases the accused was called upon to answer this question, — “How will you be tried?” before an issue was made upon which the case could proceed to trial. The penalty inflicted upon the prisoner if he failed to respond was the same as if he stood mute when called upon to plead guilty or not guilty. This was the peine forte et dure of the Common Law, the only instance of which in Massachusetts, so far as is known, being the case of Giles Corey in the Witch Trials. The statement by our historical writers that Corey was pressed to death because he would not plead to this indictment, is an illustration of the blind deference to a supposed authority which makes the study of our history so perplexing to a close student. The original papers in the Witch Trials show conclusively that Corey did plead Not Guilty, but that he refused to “put himself upon the country,” as the legal phrase ran. This declaration made up the issue, and thereupon the clerk minuted upon the back of the indictment “ponit se” — “he puts himself” — and the case stood for trial, as it could not do without this entry. Cotton Mather appears to have been the first to make the error of declaring that Corey was pressed to death for refusing to plead, which has been repeated by subsequent writers who have preferred to follow him implicitly, rather than to ascertain the exact fact by inspecting the original record.
Mr. Goodell also remarked: — It is creditable to our young Society that two such valuable contributions to our history as Mr. Noble’s work, and the complete collection of the Letters and Official Papers of Edward Randolph by our associate, Mr. Toppan, two volumes of which have already appeared in the Publications of the Prince Society, should have been first brought out almost simultaneously at this late day. The latter work, covering a period perhaps the most obscure in our history — owing doubtless to the prevailing prejudice against Randolph, who has been traditionally regarded and characterized solely as the “Evil Genius of New England” — is of the greatest interest to all profound students of New England history, and when completed in the exhaustive and critical manner in which it has thus far been pursued, will undoubtedly be ranked among the most valuable collections of original papers upon which all future historians of New England must lean for guidance through the difficult story of the Usurpation. Mr. Toppan’s discovery and correction of the error in our hitherto accepted chronology, to which he has to-day called our attention, is an illustration of the careful manner in which he has conducted his researches. After the publication of these full and exact parallel collections of data, one relating to our Colonial judicature and the other to our Colonial politics and executive administration, we may expect, with the aid of Mr. Whitmore’s comprehensive collection of the Andros Tracts, also published by the Prince Society, a continuous and complete history of the Colony from the accession of Charles II. to the arrival of the Province Charter under William and Mary that will be full of surprises to those whose opinions of men and measures during that period are based upon the judgments of our popular historians.
Mr. Worthington Chauncey Ford of Boston was elected a Resident Member, the Hon. John Howland Ricketson of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a Corresponding Member, and Samuel Pierpont Langley, D. C. L., of Washington, D. C, an Honorary Member.
Mr. William Watson Goodwin communicated a Memoir of George Martin Lane, which he had been requested to prepare for publication in the Transactions.
by WILLIAM WATSON GOODWIN.
George Martin Lane died, at his house in Cambridge, 30 June, 1897, on the morning of Commencement Day. He was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, 24 December, 1823, the anniversary, as he often remarked, of the birth of the Emperor Galba. He was the son of Martin Lane, of Northampton, Massachusetts, and Lucretia Swan of Boston, who were married in King’s Chapel on the eighteenth of December, 1808, by Dr. James Freeman.156 Our associate’s parents lived many years in Charlestown, from which place they moved to Cambridgeport soon after the birth of their son. The son began his studies at the school of George J. Abbot in Cambridgeport. He also attended the school kept by Charles S. Wheeler, an accomplished classical scholar, who graduated at Harvard College in 1837, was tutor and instructor there from 1838 to 1842, — during which period he published a valuable edition of Herodotus, with notes, — and afterwards went to Germany to continue his classical studies with Gottfried Hermann at Leipsic, where he died in 1843. Lane is said to have been first inspired with his love for the classics by his intercourse with Wheeler, whose early death disappointed the hopes of his friends and of all friends of the classics at Cambridge.
Lane finished his preparation for college at the Hopkins Classical School at Cambridge, and he entered Harvard College in 1842. He graduated, with high distinction as a scholar, in 1846. In the same class was Francis James Child, who remained one of Lane’s most intimate friends for life. The two were associated as professors in Harvard University more than forty-five years, from their appointment in 1851 until Child’s death in September, 1896. A tale, perhaps a myth, was believed in College in late years, that each of the two friends did his best to make the other graduate at the head of the Class; this honor fell to Child, but he was closely followed by Lane as second. In his Senior year (1846), Lane delivered the Latin oration at the inauguration of President Everett.157 His scholarship in Latin made him a special favorite in College of Dr. Charles Beck, the University Professor of Latin, whose confidence in his pupil was shown by his leaving to him the whole instruction in Latin of the three upper classes in the College during the second half of 1846–1847, when the Professor was absent in Europe. The scholarship and the skill displayed in this trying position gained for the young tutor the respect of both officers and students, and doubtless designated him as Dr. Beck’s successor in the professorship. Many of us who entered College in 1847 well remember the bright-eyed, almost boyish-looking, youth whom we found in 23 University Hall, where we were sent to be examined in Latin Grammar, as we thought, by the Professor of Latin; and it was with a feeling of awe that we heard that he was going in a few days to Gottingen to study the classics.
In the autumn of 1847, Lane went to Germany to study Classical Philology, being convinced that the German universities were the best, indeed, the only, institutions in which a scholar could be properly prepared for the work of a professorship in Greek or Latin. At that time no university in the United States offered any systematic instruction in the classics beyond that which was regularly given to its college classes. Lane spent four years in Germany as a student, chiefly at Göttingen, which he visited first and at which he took his degree; he studied also at Berlin, Bonn, and Heidelberg. His enrolment as a student at Göttingen, in 1847, with that of our late President, Dr. Benjamin A. Gould, in the same year, made an era in American scholarship, and was the beginning of a change which has affected all departments in our universities during the past half-century. This was the renewal of an older and most promising intercourse between Harvard University and Göttingen, which began in 1815, when Edward Everett, just appointed to the new Eliot Professorship of Greek Literature in the University, went to Göttingen to prepare himself for his work. This was a remarkable step for the time, and shows a most enlightened foresight as well as great enterprise on the part of Mr. Everett and his Harvard friends. Before this time, if the records of the University of Göttingen are to be trusted, no American had ever studied there. Everett remained at Göttingen two years, with Dissen for his private tutor; and in September, 1817, he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, being, as he writes, “the first American —and, so far as I know, Englishman — on whom it has ever been conferred.” He was joined at Göttingen by two other well-remembered Americans, — George Ticknor, a graduate of Dartmouth, who studied at Göttingen in 1815–1816, but did not take a degree; and Joseph Green Cogswell, who graduated at Harvard College in 1806, was tutor there in 1814–1815, went to Göttingen in 1816, and took the degree of Doctor of Philosophy there in 1819. George Bancroft graduated at Harvard in 1817, and went immediately to Göttingen, where he took the Doctor’s degree in 1819. These four distinguished men, three of them Harvard graduates, all returned to hold important positions at Harvard, — Everett as Professor of Greek Literature (1815–1826), Ticknor as Professor of French, Spanish, and Belles Lettres (1817–1835,) Cogswell as Librarian (1821–1823), and Bancroft as Tutor (1822–1823). The published letters of Everett, Ticknor, and Cogswell are eloquent in praise of the new and unexpected facilities for higher study which they found in Germany; but this “open door” was closed for many years after Bancroft left Göttingen, in 1819. We find Henry W. Longfellow registered at Göttingen in 1829; and John Lothrop Motley studied Law there, with Bismarck, in 1832–1833. With these exceptions, according to the University records, no Americans studied in Göttingen from 1819 until the advent of Gould and Lane in 1847; but in the ten years from 1847 to 1857, forty-seven American students were registered there, of whom seven were Harvard men; most of these studied also at other German universities. Since 1857, there has been a steady succession of students from all our chief universities to those of Germany, including Göttingen, Berlin usually having the largest share in later years.
This movement, which has done more to raise the standard and the tone of American scholarship than any other influence, was thus inaugurated, in 1847, by our late associates, Benjamin Apthorp Gould and George Martin Lane. That year found Gould in Göttingen as a student of Gauss; and he and Lane were soon joined by Child, Gildersleeve, and others. Lane received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Göttingen in 1851. His dissertation, entitled Smyrnaeorum Res Gestae et Antiquitates, was printed at Göttingen; and, unlike most Doctors’ Dissertations, it became an authority on the subject of Smyrna. Karl Friedrich Hermann, in his elaborate work on Greek Antiquities, thus cites it: —
“G. M. Lane, Smyrnaeorum res gestae et antiquitates, Gött. 1851, welche fleissige Arbeit überhaupt alle sonstigen Nachweisungen über diese Stadt unnöthig macht.”158
This still stands in the latest revised edition of the work, published in 1874, nineteen years after Hermann’s death.
An interesting testimony to the high estimation in which Lane and Gildersleeve were held in Göttingen is found in Professor Schneidewin’s Preface to his edition of the two newly-discovered Orations of Hyperides: —
“Quae omnia fecerunt, ut ex longo tempore nullum diem laetiorem mihi videar egisse, quam eum quo praeclarum hoc Attici eloquii exemplum in manus sumere et plenis haustibus combibere licuit. Sciunt qui illo die — is festi paschalis primus fuit — forte me convenerunt in opiparis dapibus luxuriantem, Herm. Lotzius, familiaris meus et γείτων ὁμότοιχος, atque B. L. Gildersleevius, Americanus, — cuius ego post discessum pari cum desiderio memini atque G. M. Lanii, civis sui, virorum iuvenum et candore animi praecelleutium et ad oruandas in illo orbe litteras antiquitatis natorum.”159
Lane returned to Harvard, in 1851, as Dr. Beck’s successor in the University Professorship of Latin; Child returned at the same time as Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. Josiah Parsons Cooke returned from Europe the same year as Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy. This accession to the teaching force inspired the College with new life. Still, it was long before any radical changes were made in the system of teaching or any decided advance was perceptible in scholarship. The College was still bound by its traditions, and no efforts to raise the standard of scholarship in special departments could have substantial success without infringing the vested rights of other departments or overworking many of the better scholars. To this is probably due the strange absence of any radical improvements in scholarship or in methods of teaching as the result of the accession of Everett, Ticknor, Bancroft, and Cogswell thirty years before. Ticknor tells the whole story when he writes, in 1823, —
“The most that an instructor now undertakes is to ascertain, from day to day, whether the young men assembled in his presence have probably studied the lesson prescribed to them. We are neither a University — which we call ourselves — nor a respectable High School, which we ought to be.”160
It is evident that no “new German ideas” were welcomed at Cambridge by either professors or students. It is said that the students used to sing, “Thus we do in Germany” under Bancroft’s windows in the College Yard. The chief result of the new spirit was the establishment of an Elective System of study in the later years of President Kirkland’s administration, which failed to accomplish its purpose, partly from want of sympathy in the Faculty, but chiefly from want of money. It was then impossible to enlarge the various departments of study so that the right to omit certain studies should be balanced by the power to pursue these same studies or others much further than was possible under a Required System. Without this principle, no Elective System can do anything to advance scholarship. As President Walker once asked, —
“Who supposes that the mere right of selection among a crowd of elementary studies will make a University?”
A true Elective System, distinctly recognizing and carrying out this essential principle, was first established in 1867; and the result of this has been a wonderful and unexpected enlargement of every department, with a corresponding raising of the standard of scholarship, and the establishment of new departments with many sub-divisions of old ones. After five years’ experience, it was found necessary, in 1872, to establish a Graduate Department, afterwards enlarged into the present Graduate School, to make room for the ever-increasing expansion of the College studies. The Graduate School now has 322 students, of whom 46 are, or have been, professors or instructors in universities or colleges, besides many who have been masters of schools or directors of scientific institutions. The whole body of undergraduates — now 1851 — numbered 273 in 1848; 409 in 1858; and 529 in 1868. It would be too much to say that Lane was one of the promoters of the new Elective System, though he was one of the first to take advantage of its new opportunities for enlarging the scope and the influence of his own teaching. Sixteen years’ experience in work which was chiefly required had dimmed his faith in new schemes, and he was content to leave to others the elaboration of plans for improvement. From 1851 to 1856 he had, like his predecessor, the whole instruction in Latin of the Sophomore, Junior, and Senior classes, including exercises in composition, entirely in his own hands; and after 1856, he had equally hard work with the two upper classes. The Elective System, after 1867, gave him ample opportunity to extend his instruction to new fields and to more advanced students. He was a “born teacher,” and his methods needed merely expansion, not addition, to adapt them to new conditions. I quote an account of his power as a teacher from a notice in the Nation, written by Professor Morgan, who had been one of his most appreciative pupils: —
“As a teacher, Professor Lane had all that fine literary appreciation which characterizes the English school, combined, however, with the minute and exact knowledge of the Germans. Besides his never-failing good nature, he had two gifts which, perhaps more than any others, awoke the admiration of his undergraduate pupils — his prodigious memory and his great originality of thought. He seemed familiar with every literature, and apposite quotations from the most various sources, now drawn, maybe, from the New England Primer, and now from the greatest of the classics, were used to illuminate the passage under discussion. The atmosphere of his class-room was thus distinctly literary, and his teaching had none of that deadly dulness which is too often the product of German learning. It was seasoned, too, with his own peculiar wit, of which so many legends come rising to the mind of every Harvard man. But it never degenerated into literary twaddle, and nobody hated looseness of method and inexactness of statement more than he. To his originality many scholars scattered widely over the land can bear testimony, recalling that it was he who first showed them that there were things to be learned that were not to be found set down in any book — that he initiated them, in fact, into the modern methods of individual research, and taught them to seek the truth themselves. He rarely wasted time in putting questions which could be answered offhand; he never hesitated to suggest problems which nobody present, not even himself, could solve. He made it clear that there were vast untrodden fields on every side, and tempted his pupils on to exploration.”161
Scrupulous accuracy, without affectation or pedantry, was, indeed, the great lesson of Lane’s literary life, which he taught in every act both in and out of his professor’s chair. His sparkling wit and his humorous view, even of the commonest things, made him a delightful social companion; and his unfailing kindness of heart endeared him to his large circle of friends, especially to those who had known sorrow and trouble. His early life as professor supplies many anecdotes and witticisms, which are now becoming legendary. We may mention one of his earliest jokes in the classroom, in which he called the attempt of the daughters of Pelias to rejuvenate their aged father by boiling him, according to the advice of Medea, “the first case of par-boiling on record.” The social life at “Clover Den” (now No. 19 Follen Street, Cambridge), where Lane and Gould, with either Josiah D. Whitney or Winlock as a third, dispensed hospitality several years, and where the famous “Roman Banquet” was given, with a slave chained at the door, is now a part of the history of Cambridge. It is related that once, at a supper at “Clover Den,” President Sparks highly approved of some excellent Rhine wine, the bottles of which bore the initials (H. U.) of a well-known wine merchant in Göttingen. These letters were explained, jocosely, to the President as “a delicate compliment to Harvard University.” He made no comment at the time; but early the next morning he called at the “Den,” praising the hospitality of his hosts and their Rhine wine, but gently suggesting that perhaps it would be more prudent to omit the letters H. U. for the future. At this time Lane wrote the now famous ballad of the “Lone Fishball,” which was afterwards expanded into an Italian opera — “II Pesceballo” — by Child, and performed, with great success and large profits, for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission in the War of the Rebellion. It is worth mentioning that Lane, in his later years, confessed that the account given by Professor Lovering, the reputed hero of the tale, of the adventure on which the fishball story was founded — that Lane himself was the real hero — was perfectly correct.
It is often regretted that a scholar possessed of such exhaustless stores of learning and of such an inimitable power of expression as Lane, should have published so little. Besides various articles in Reviews and newspapers, most of which were anonymous, and his Doctor’s Dissertation, above-mentioned, he published only his pamphlet on Latin Pronunciation (1871); but this little work, in a few years, changed the pronunciation of Latin in nearly all the colleges and schools in the United States. It was especially regretted that he died without having published his Latin Grammar, to which he had devoted much of his time and study for thirty years, but which he had never felt quite ready to publish. Fortunately, about three quarters of the work proved to be ready for printing at his death, and the loving care and skill of his colleague, Professor Morgan, have supplied the remainder and published the whole.162 This book of 572 closely printed pages is one of the most important linguistic works ever written by an American scholar, and is a lasting monument to the memory of its author. Its originality and wonderful clearness of expression, with its brilliant, and often witty, translations of passages from Latin authors, fully sustain the high reputation which Lane had gained as a scholar and teacher. But what he would not publish in his own name, he most generously gave to his friends to use in their own publications. We may mention especially his valuable work in revising the two Latin Dictionaries published by Harper and Brothers. In the Preface to the School Lexicon the editor, Dr. Charlton T. Lewis, says of Lane’s relation to the work, —
“If it shall be found, within its prescribed limits, to have attained in any degree that fulness, that minute accuracy, and that correspondence with the ripest scholarship and the most perfect methods of instruction which are its aims, the result is largely due to his counsel and assistance.”163
Lane held the University Professorship of Latin, to which he was elected in 1851, until the establishment of the Pope Professorship, in 1869, when he was transferred, without change of duties, to the new foundation. In 1894, being seventy years old, he resigned the active duties of his professorship, and was made Pope Professor of Latin, Emeritus. He held this position until his death, occasionally giving instruction to classes of advanced graduate students. At the Commencement of 1894, Harvard University conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. With the deaths of Professors Torrey, Cooke, Child, and Lane in less than four years (1893–1897), Harvard University parted from the last of her great teachers who had come down from the first half of the century.
Lane was married, in 1857, to Frances Eliza, daughter of Samuel Smith Gardiner of Shelter Island, New York, who died in 1876, leaving three children, — our associate, Gardiner Martin Lane, now of Boston, Louisa, wife of William Bayard Van Rensselaer of Albany, and Katherine Ward Lane, who died in 1893. In 1878, he married Mrs. Fanny (Bradford) Clark, who survives him. He was, for many years, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and was made a member of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts at its second Stated Meeting, held 15 February, 1893.