A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Building of the American Unitarian Association,523 No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Wednesday, 20 December, 1899, at three o’clock in the afternoon, President Wheelwright in the Chair.
The Minutes of the Annual Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters had been received from Dr. James Ford Rhodes accepting Resident Membership, and from the Hon. James Phinney Baxter accepting Corresponding Membership.
The President referred to the death of Samuel Johnson, a Resident Member, and spoke of his deep interest in the Society which was evinced by his constant attendance at its Meetings, and by his zealous and devoted service as a member of the committee which raised the Gould Memorial Fund, to which he made a generous subscription. Mr. Wheelwright also referred to Mr. Johnson’s genial presence and cordial, unostentatious manner, and recalled the fact that Mr. Johnson was of the committee which escorted him to the Chair on the occasion of his inauguration as President of the Society.
Mr. William Endicott spoke at some length in memory of his friend of half a century, and paid a warm tribute to Mr. Johnson’s character. He spoke of his high standing in the community, especially in the mercantile world, where, for more than a generation, he had occupied a commanding position, administering with ability great trust estates and rendering much and various unpaid public service, besides conducting in part the affairs of the great commercial house with which both were connected for more than fifty years. Mr. Endicott also referred to Mr. Johnson’s keen and active interest in the affairs of the Old South Church in Boston, and to his connection with many charitable organizations to which he gave generously of his time and wise counsel as well as of his ample means.
Mr. George Fox Tucker read copious extracts from a Diary kept in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1823 and 1824, by Joseph Russell Anthony, of the Society of Friends, who built the Joseph Delano house, and who died in 1840.524 The Diary gives a curious and interesting glimpse of life in New Bedford at that time, and frequently refers to the troubles which arose over the “New Lights” in the Friends’ Meeting. The views of the “New Lights” were similar to those of the Hicksites, and from their ranks the Unitarian Church in New Bedford received many accessions, among whom were members of some of the most prominent families in that town, including the Grinnells and James Arnold, whose name will always be associated with his noble gift of the Arboretum to Harvard College.
Mr. Albert Matthews read the following paper on —
It is well known that in 1747 the French and Indians attacked Township Number Four, now Charlestown, New Hampshire, at which time the fort at that place was defended by Captain Phinehas Stevens.525 Who commanded the forces repulsed by Captain Stevens, is a question which has never received an adequate answer. In a letter written 7 April, 1747, Captain Stevens himself said: —
“The Enemy . . . call’d to us, and desired a Cessation of Arms until Sun rise the next Morning, (which was granted) at which Time they said they would come to a Parley. Accordingly the French General Debelina526 came with about 50 or 60 of his Men with a Flag of Truce, and stuck it down within about 20 Rods of the Fort, in plain Sight of the same, and said, if we would send 3 Men to him, he would send as many to us; to which we complied.”527
Most American writers and historians have merely repeated the statement made by Stevens, and for one hundred and forty-five years the name of the French leader masqueraded under the disguise of General or Monsieur Debeline. In 1892, Francis Parkman gave for the first time — for the first time, that is, in a work written in English — the true surname of the French leader. He wrote: —
“The surrounding forest concealed what the New England chroniclers call an ‘army,’ commanded by General Debeline. It scarcely need be said that Canada had no General Debeline, and that no such name is to be found in Canadian annals. The ‘army’ was a large war-party of both French and Indians, and a French record shows that its commander was Boucher de Niverville, ensign in the colony troops.”528
It will be observed, however, that Parkman merely speaks of him as Boucher de Niverville, not specifying which Boucher. As there were at that time innumerable members of the Boucher family, probably Parkman did not care to take the trouble of disentangling individuals. In the New York Colonial Documents, Boucher is called “Chevalier de Niverville,” “Ensign de Niverville,” “Mr de Niverville,” “Sieur de Niverville;”529 but nowhere is there material for identification. O’Callaghan, however, for reasons which do not appear, entered the name in the index as Jean Baptiste Boucher de Niverville; and thus has the name appeared, since 1892, in all works in which the French Commander is mentioned. An appeal for information made to Sir John G. Bourinot was by him transferred to Mr. Benjamin Sulte, of Ottawa, the highest authority in Canada upon such matters. On Saturday last there came from Mr. Sulte530 a letter which contained considerable matter already known, but in which was also found some valuable historical and genealogical material entirety new. The brief sketch which follows is largely drawn from this material.
Pierre Boucher de Grosbois, Governor of Three Rivers at various times from 1652 to 1667, was born in 1622, was twice married, after 1667 went to reside at Boucherville, and died 21 April, 1717.531 By his second wife, Jeanne Crevier, he had several children, of whom it is necessary to mention only two. The eldest, Pierre Boucher de la Broquerie, was born in 1653, married Charlotte Denys de la Trinité 25 October, 1683, and died 17 August, 1740. The latter’s son Joseph Boucher, the date of whose birth is unknown, was twice married, served in the wars between 1744 and 1760, in 1756 built ships on Lake Ontario, in 1757 made a map of that lake, and died 28 February, 1762.532
Returning, now, to Pierre Boucher de Grosbois, Governor of Three Rivers, it has been said that he had two sons, the elder being Pierre Boucher de la Broquerie. A younger son was Jean Baptiste Boucher de Niverville. Born 10 December, 1673, he married 10 February, 1710, Marguerite Thérèse Hertel, daughter of François Hertel de la Frenière, Seigneur de Chambly. Through his wife, Boucher inherited the seigneurie of Chambly, and in 1726 he was designated as Seigneur de Chambly.533 In 1727 he took part in the campaign against the Fox Indians of Wisconsin;534 and in 1732 and in 1740 he is referred to as Ensign.535 It is not known exactly when he died, though he appears to have been alive in 1748. He it was who, according to O’Callaghan, attacked Number Four; but the fact that in 1747 he was in his seventy-fourth year is enough to prove that he could not have been the leader of the French on that occasion.
Joseph Boucher de Niverville, the son of Jean Baptiste Boucher de Niverville, was born 22 September, 1715. On the first of April, 1742, at Versailles, the King prescribed that the Chevalier de Niverville be given the first commission as Ensign that might become vacant; and on the first of May, 1743, the King appointed him “Enseigne en second.” In March, 1746, he started from Montreal and went towards Boston, returning to Canada in May with two prisoners.536 On April fourth, 1747, occurred the attack, which lasted three days, on Number Four.537 On 15 February, 1748, he was appointed by the King “Enseigne en pied.” In 1748 he was again on the war-path, near Lake Champlain in April, and at Fort Massachusetts in August;538 and on 17 March, 1756, he was appointed Lieutenant by the King. In the spring of 1757 he approached Fort Cumberland on the Ohio, proceeded towards Virginia, and took some prisoners;539 in August he was present at the taking of Fort William Henry by Montcalm;540 and on 5 October, at Three Rivers, he was married to Josette Chatelin,541 daughter of François Chatelin, retired Captain, by his second wife Marguerite Cardin. In 1759, he commanded Canadians and Indians at Sillery, near Quebec.542 In 1762 or 1763 he was made Chevalier de Saint Louis, and his cross of Saint Louis, which he left to the church of Three Rivers, may still be seen there suspended to the ostensoir. In October, 1775, he assisted Jean Baptiste Bouchette in the difficult task of safely conveying Governor-General Carleton from Montreal then occupied by the Americans to Quebec. Until about 1796, he remained superintendent of the Indian settlements at Bécancour and St. François-du-Lac (Lake St. Peter) and died at Three Rivers, where he was buried 31 August, 1804.
Three years ago Mr. Sulte had the kindness to inform us that the man who commanded the French and Indians in their attack on Wells in the summer of 1692, and whose identity had been obscured by American historians under various misspellings of his titular appellation, was Pierre Boucher de la Broquerie.543 It now appears from Mr. Sulte’s present letter, that the leader of the attack on Number Four was not only of the same family as the commander at Wells, but was the nephew of the latter. Thus, for a second time, we are indebted for valuable information to Mr. Sulte.544
The paper was discussed by President Wheelwright, Mr. Henry Williams, and Mr. Henry H. Edes.
Mr. Charles K. Bolton read extracts from an account book of John Goddard (1730–1816) of Brookline, Massachusetts, a member of the First Provincial Congress and later a Representative from Brookline in the House of Representatives, who was appointed by the Committee of Safety, at the outbreak of the Revolution, Wagon-Master of the American forces. These extracts related to the military stores which the Americans were accumulating at Concord, in 1775. The original manuscript is in the Brookline Public Library.
During the discussion which ensued, President Wheelwright described the way in which General Rufus Putnam built the fortifications at Dorchester Heights, in 1776. He was followed, in a similar strain, by Mr. S. Lothrop Thorndike, Mr. Henry Williams, and Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis who said that, upon recent occasions, Senator Hoar had lauded Putnam at the expense of Dr. Manasseh Cutler, to whom belonged the first place in the history of the great enterprise of settling the Northwest.
The old paper of one hundred and seventy years ago which I have brought here for your inspection, came freshly to light the other day after a somewhat curious history. It had been humbly playing the part of “imperious Cæsar,” and had been used — pasted upon the back — to mend and keep together the torn fragments of a tax-levy made in 1733 in a little township of Massachusetts. This tax-levy was made by the Assessors for the Proprietors of Townsend upon some ninety townsmen to raise the sum of £150, “to pay the Dets of the said Proprietors;” and was committed to the Collector, Jonathan Page, “to levy and collect and pay over to the Clerk of said Proprietors, Jasher Wyman.”
The paper was used in evidence in the case of “Daniel Amery of Townshend in the County of Middlesex, husbandman, Appellant vs. William Lakin of Petersborough in the County of Middlesex, in the Province of New Hampshire, yeoman,” and sundry others.545
The document is among the Files of the Court belonging to the case,546 which involves much of the history of the town of Townsend, originally the southern part of the Turkey Hills, Lunenburg being created out of the northern part, — the former in Middlesex County, in 1732, the latter in Worcester County, in 1728.547 There are over fifty papers in the case, among them, beside the pleadings, etc., copies of various legislative acts, reports of commissioners from 1719 down to the time of the trial, copies of papers from the Proprietors’ Records, a list of the original proprietors, with their respective lots and the owners of those lots in 1771, together with many deeds and depositions of the early settlers, — a considerable collection of material for local history.
It is unlikely that the Programme had any connection whatever with the case. It was merely its fate, after fulfilling its original purpose in the world of scholars, to be turned to a new use in the contests of the courts, humble but serviceable, but why, where, and by whom, nothing remains to show. The venerable paper is the Programme for the Commencement at Harvard College in the year 1730. It has lost its date, — trimmed off by some irreverent hand to fit it to the exigencies of its new and later use; and the lower margin is missing. The names of the Commencers whom it launched into the world of letters, fix the date, however, beyond question. The list is headed by Peter Oliver, famous in the days of the Province, who was appointed on the Bench of the Superiour Court of Judicature, 14 September, 1756, after an extended judicial experience, and also after service in the; Council; and was made Chief-Justice on the resignation of Benjamin Lynde in 1772, — the last Chief-Justice under the Crown, holding, in Suffolk, in February, 1775, the only term held in the Province that year, the brief records of which are on two pages.548 Among the other names on the Programme are those of Walter Hastings, whose descendant, bearing the same name, has left a lasting memorial of himself in Walter Hastings Hall, one of the present dormitories of the College; of James Diman, Librarian 1735–1737; of Joseph Mayhew, Tutor and Fellow 1739–1755; of Eliakim Hutchinson, and of others known in New England history. Thirty-four names appear on the list here, while the Quinquennial Catalogue adds two more, Thomas West and Nathaniel Whitaker, making the number of the Class of 1730 thirty-six.
William Tailer was then the Chief Magistrate of the Province. The Dedication characterizes him in appropriate complimentary terms, and sets forth in sonorous Latin his honorable lineage, — a somewhat peculiar feature, due, perhaps, to a pride in him as a native New Englander. He had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor that year, succeeding William Dummer, and he served till his death, at Dorchester, 1 March, 1731–32.549 He became Acting-Governor on the eleventh of June, 1730, awaiting the arrival of Jonathan Belcher, who had been appointed Governor on the twenty-eighth of January, 1729–30, but who did not reach Boston to assume the duties of the office till the tenth of August.550 Thus good fortune, which seemed so often to befriend him, placed his name at the head of a Commencement programme. It was not his first occupancy of the Executive Chair. Appointed Lieutenant-Governor in 1711, and serving in that capacity till the fifth of October, 1716, when he gave place to William Dummer, he became Acting-Governor on the ninth of November, 1715, and held that office till the arrival of Colonel Shute on the fifth of October, 1716. Colonel Elizeus Burgess, “an English gentleman,” had been designated by the King as Governor on the seventeenth of March, 1714–15, and was proclaimed Governor on the ninth of November, 1715, but never came over to assume the duties of the office, and resigned in 1716, to be succeeded by Governor Shute.551
On that Commencement Day the Reverend Benjamin Wadsworth was the President of the College. He was approaching the middle of his term of service. He had succeeded John Leverett, who had so ably filled the office, and who died suddenly on the third of May, 1724. At that time religious dissensions were rife; other divisions of opinion and policy were frequent and sharp; personal jealousies were by no means unknown, and smouldered even where they did not blaze. The College had been hampered in many ways, and its Presidents had struggled along on the most meagre allowance of salary.552
To find a fitting successor to President Leverett was a matter of the utmost importance to the College, and of no little difficulty in itself. The Reverend Joseph Sewall of the Old South Church in Boston was chosen by the Corporation on the eleventh of August, 1724, and confirmed by the Overseers on the twenty-sixth. His Church, however, was unwilling to give him up, and he declined. Judge Sewall briefly notes the event, without comment: —
“Wednesday Augt. 12 . . . Scipio brings word this morning from Mr. Gerrish that my Son is Chosen President.”553
Cotton Mather, who much desired the office and had a certain support, relieves his mind by an entry in his Diary, quoted by Quincy:
“This day Dr. Sewall was chosen President for his piety.”554
Again he writes: —
“I am informed that yesterday the six men who call themselves the Corporation of the College met, and, contrary to the epidemical expectation of the country, chose a modest young man, of whose piety (and little else) every one gives a laudable character. I always foretold these two things of the Corporation; first, that, if it were possible for them to steer clear of me, they will do so; secondly, that, if it were possible for them to act foolishly, they will do so.
“The perpetual envy with which my essays to serve the kingdom of God are treated among them, and the dread that Satan has of my beating up his quarters at the College, led me into the former sentiment; the marvellous indiscretion, with which the affairs of the College are managed, led me into the latter.”555
On the eighteenth of November the Reverend Benjamin Colman, of Brattle Street Church, Boston, was chosen by the Corporation and confirmed by the Overseers on the twenty-fourth. Here again the Church was reluctant to relinquish its minister, and he, too, hesitated, possibly influenced by his dealings with the Legislature in his efforts to relieve the impoverished condition of the College; at last he sent in his final decision (26 December) declining the proffered honor.
Disappointed again in his hope that religious influences might at last carry him into the coveted chair, Cotton Mather writes in his Diary on the twenty-second of November: —
“The Corporation of this miserable College do again (on a fresh opportunity) treat me with their accustomed indignity.”556
Due allowance should be made for Mather’s disappointment. Aside from the failure of long cherished hopes, the wounding of personal feeling, the attack upon his self-esteem and the final crushing out of his darling ambition, he had, unquestionably, a sincere interest in the College and an honest dissatisfaction with its standard of scholarship and the general administration of its affairs. His views are strongly set out in a severe arraignment of the College, in a document found among his papers, without date, probably written, however, not far from 1723, on Points to be inquired into concerning Harvard College.557 Many of his strictures seem to have had considerable justification.
After these two unavailing elections, the choice of the Corporation, on the eighth of June, 1725, fell upon the Reverend Benjamin Wadsworth, and the Overseers ratified it on the tenth. Born in Milton, 28 February, 1669–70,558 a graduate of the College in the Class of 1690, a Fellow from 1697 to 1707, and again from 1712 till his election as President, he had been minister of the First Church in Boston since 1696, when he became associate pastor with the Reverend James Allen. He is said to have been inducted “with a formality hitherto unpractised in the land.”559 Judge Sewall thus records the event: —
“[1696.] Septr. 8. Mr. Benj. Wadsworth is ordain’d pastor of the first Church. Mr. Allin gave the charge, Mr. I. Mather gave the Right Hand of Fellowship: Spake notably of some young men who had apostatized from New England principles, contrary to the Light of their education: was glad that he [Mr. Wadsworth] was of another spirit. Mr. Willard was one who joined in laying on of hands.”560
On the thirtieth of December, 1696, he married Ruth Bordman of Cambridge, daughter of that Andrew Bordman who was Steward of the College from 1682 till 1687.561 She died, without issue, 17 February, 1744–45.
On his election as President, the General Court made Wadsworth the usual allowance of £150 “to enable him to enter upon and manage the great affair of that Presidency.”562 With much reluctance, it is said, he accepted the office, and was inaugurated on Commencement Day, 7 July. He died in office 16 March, 1736–37. His salary was fixed at £400, a sum whose effective amount was much lessened by various causes. A committee was appointed “to look out a suitable house for the reception of the President.”563 It became necessary, however, to build one, and £1000 was appropriated by the General Court, with unprecedented liberality, for the purpose. The work was slow, and the sum inadequate. The Corporation was obliged to apply to the General Court for a further grant, setting out the straits in which the new incumbent found himself: —
“He can no where hire a convenient house for himself, and his family is divided, some dwelling in one house, and some in another. His household goods are disposed of in several houses and barns.”564
He took possession 4 November, 1726, “when not half finished within;” and the house was not completed till the following January.565 The house still stands on the College grounds, and is now known as Wadsworth House. For many years it was the residence of the President; its last occupant as such was President Everett. The administration of President Wadsworth was creditable to himself and generally satisfactory, though his health was precarious and his life not easy. Mr. Goddard, in his chapter on the Press and Literature of the Provincial Period, calls him —
“a man of sound and serious rather than of brilliant parts, . . . not a man of extensive erudition or much acquainted with the sciences,”566
“The general opinion, however, was that he was better fitted for the pastor of a church, than to be master of the school of the prophets” (p. 465).
Quincy characterizes him as —
“faithful to every trust, kind to all, calm, cautious, moderate, self-possessed, and affectionate, he left a name precious to his own, and appreciated highly by after times.”567
Commencement Day in those times was quite unlike the day as we now know it. The state of the College was troubled and more or less disorderly, and the discipline slack. Quincy tells us that —
“Gross excesses, immoralities and disorders occurred about this period, . . . peculiarly annoying at Commencement season.”568
The efforts to check these troubles were strenuous but not always effective. There was a vote of the Corporation and Overseers, 11 June, 1722 —
“prohibiting Commencers from ‘preparing or providing either plumb cake, or roasted, boiled, or baked meats, or pies of any kind,’ and from having in their chambers ‘distilled liquors, or any composition made therewith.’ . . . On Commencement day the President and Corporation were accustomed to visit the rooms of the Commencers, ‘to see if the laws prohibiting certain meats and drinks were not violated.’”569
Then, there was a vote of both Boards, in April, 1727, that —
“Commencements for time to come be more private than has been usual; and, in order to this, that the time for them be not fixed to the first Wednesday in July, as formerly, but that the particular day should be determined upon from time to time by the Corporation.”570
Later, on 12 June, 1727, it was ordered that —
“if any who now do, or hereafter shall, stand for their degrees, presume to do anything contrary to the act of 11th of June, 1722, or go about to evade it by plain cake, they shall not be admitted to their degree, and if any, after they have received their degree, shall presume to make any of the forbidden provisions, their names shall be left or rased out of the Catalogue of the graduates.”571
The Lieutenant-Governor (Dummer) was requested —
“to direct the sheriff of Middlesex to prohibit the setting up of booths or tents on those public days.” . . .
“In June, 1733, ‘an interview took place between the Corporation and three Justices of the Peace in Cambridge, to concert measures to keep order at Commencements.’”572
Tutors, also, seem to have been guilty of insubordination and neglect of duty, at times, notably in 1731, as Wadsworth laments.573 Quincy relates that —
“For several years during the administration of Wadsworth, by a vote of the Overseers the time of Commencement was concealed, only a short notice being given to the public of the day on which it was to be held. In the Diary of President Wadsworth it is stated, that Friday was fixed on, for the reason ‘that there might be a less remaining time of the week spent in frolicking.’”574
This seems to have caused much complaint on the part of the multitude and the clergy alike, and Wednesday, the old day, was restored in 1736.575
At Commencement, then as now, the Governor came over from Boston, but through Roxbury, attended by his body-guard. There was the solemn procession of the Corporation, the Overseers, the Magistrates, the Ministers, and the invited guests, from Harvard Hall to the First Church. The exercises opened with prayer by the President, and there followed a Latin Salutatory, the Disputations upon the Theses, usually three in number, and on this programme, conspicuously designated, a Gratulatory Oration in Latin, and the conferring of the Bachelor’s degree, a book being delivered to each candidate. Dinner intervened, before the Masters came on for their disputations and degrees, in order to fortify the inner man for the more strenuous intellectual requirements of the afternoon. Then came an address by the President, and a Latin Valedictory by one of the Masters, and the exercises closed with another prayer by the President. The procession was re-formed and filed back to the President’s house.576
The whole list of Theses, and especially the subjects chosen for public disputation, might furnish a curious study into the prevailing intellectual tendencies of the times, the current questions of education, the lines of investigation and research, the conditions of scholarship and science, and the relations of the College to the world about it.
On that Commencement Day, in 1730, the five Fellows were: — Henry Flynt, who served from 1700 to 1760; Nathaniel Appleton, from 1717 to 1779; Edward Wigglesworth, from 1724 to 1765; Joseph Sewall, from 1728 to 1765; and Nathan Prince, from 1728 to 1742. The Board of Overseers had returned, in 1707, to its original constitution, as established by the General Court on the twenty-seventh of September, 1642: —
“The Governor & Deputy for the time being, & all the matrats of this iurisdiction, together with the teaching eldrs of the sixe next adioyning townes, that is, Cambridge, Watertowne, Charlestowne, Boston, Roxberry, & Dorchester, & the p̄sident of the colledge for the time being.”577
Henry Flynt had been their Secretary since 1712 and he so continued till 1758. Edward Hutchinson was Treasurer, and Andrew Bordman, Steward.578 There were but two Professors, — Edward Wigglesworth filling the chair of Divinity, — the professorship established by Thomas Hollis in 1721; and Isaac Greenwood in the Hollis professorship of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy founded in 1727. The Tutors were but four in number, — Henry Flynt, who rounded out the unmatched term of fifty-five years, from 1699 to 1754, Nathan Prince, John Davenport and Stephen Sewall; while Judah Monis was well under way in his term of service as Instructor in Hebrew, which began in 1722 and ended in 1760.
To endeavor to bring back in imagination the audience whose eyes pored over the old programme and whose minds took in the inspiration which the exercises of the day gave, would be to recount nearly every leading name in this region, for Commencement was then a momentous occasion, and generally attended.
The course of study in College then compares rather curiously with the provisions of to-day: —
“The regular exercises are thus stated in an official report, made in 1726, by Tutors Flynt, Welsteed and Prince.
- ‘1. While the students are Freshmen, they commonly recite the Grammars, and with them a recitation in Tully, Virgil, and the Greek Testament, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, in the morning and forenoon; on Friday morning Dugard’s or Farnaby’s Rhetoric, and on Saturday morning the Greek Catechism; and, towards the latter end of the year, they dispute on Ramus’s Definitions Mondays and Tuesdays in the forenoon.
- 2. The Sophomores recite Burgersdicius’s Logic, and a manuscript called New Logic, in the mornings and forenoons; and towards the latter end of the year Heereboord’s Meletemata, and dispute Mondays and Tuesdays in the forenoon, continuing also to recite the classic authors, with Logic and Natural Philosophy; on Saturday mornings they recite Wollebius’s Divinity.
- 3. The Junior Sophisters recite Heereboord’s Meletemata, Mr. Morton’s Physics, More’s Ethics, Geography, Metaphysics, in the mornings and forenoons; Wollebius on Saturday morning; and dispute Mondays and Tuesdays in the forenoons.
- 4. The Senior Sophisters, besides Arithmetic, recite Allsted’s Geometry, Gassendus’s Astronomy, in the morning; go over the Arts towards the latter end of the year, Ames’s Medulla on Saturdays, and dispute once a week.’”579
All, also, except the Freshmen, were required to attend upon Judah Monis, in Hebrew, four days in the week, with minutely defined details of work. There was also an abundance of Scripture expositions by the President through the week. Attendance at morning and evening prayers and public worship on Sunday was required. Early in the administration of Wadsworth they were relieved from the “ancient and laudable practice,” which required all undergraduates, beginning with the youngest, to read at Morning Prayers a verse out of the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Greek, except the Freshmen, who could use their English Bibles; and at Evening Prayers to read from the New Testament out of the English or Latin version, into Greek, whenever the President performed this service in the Hall, and the exercise was performed in the chambers of the tutors.580
One might well wonder how, on such an intellectual diet, such men as belonged to those days could have been turned out. Was it in the men themselves, in their surroundings, in the very training itself, that the source of their power was to be found; or is there a certain glamour over any remote past, which blinds the judgment of the present, when it measures its own contemporaries?
As one looks back at the little College of 1730, poor, hampered, cramped, and struggling, bearing its burden of responsibility, and contending with so many adverse influences, it seems incredible that it could develop into the University of to-day. It is idle to attempt to set out in any statement the contrast, — it would require the reproduction of the current Catalogue, in large part, with its bewildering lists and its multitudinous details; and even then there is that intangible something which eludes and defies expression, which is yet of the very essence of the difference. The advance, in the one hundred and seventy years that lie between, almost passes comprehension or adequate conception, and it may be safe to say that the progress in every direction within the last thirty years and under the administration of President Eliot, is greater than that of the whole century that followed the Commencement Day when this old paper first saw the light.
Early in the year 1713 the question of providing for a lighthouse was brought before the Legislature, and on the third of January of that year —
“Upon Reading a Petition of John George Mercht. for him ſelf & Aſsociates, Propoſing the Erecting of a Light House & Lanthorn on ſome Head Land at the Entrance of the Harbour of Boſton for the Direction of Ships & Veſsels in the Night Time bound into the ſaid Harbour;
“Ordered that the Honble. the Lieutenant Governr. Eliakim Hutchinſon & Andrew Belcher Eſq. of the Council; John Clark, Addington Davenport, Major Thomas Fitch & Samuel Thaxter Eſq. named by the Repreſentatives be a Committee to confer with the Petitioner & his Aſsociates upon the Subject Matter of their Petition & to make Report to this Court at their next Seſsion” (Court Records, ix. 252).
The matter was also taken up by the town of Boston, and on the second of March it was by the Selectmen —
“Agreed to propose to ye Town their being concerned in ye Charge of a Light House, in ordr to an income” (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 179).
On the ninth of the same month, in town-meeting, it was —
“Voted. That the Consideration of what it is proper for the Town to do Abt a Light-Hous, be referred to the Select men and Committee afore appointed to Improve the fifteen hundred pounds, and to make report to ye Town of what they Shall think advisable threin” (Ibid. viii. 94).
On the twentieth of March, Tailer made his Report to the Legislature: —
“Upon Reading the Report of the Committee appointed by this Court at their Seſsion in January laſt to confer with Mr John George & his Aſsociates upon the Subject Matter of their Petition propoſing the Erecting of a Light House and Lanthorn on ſome Head Land at the Entrance of the Harbour of Boſton, Wch Report is in the Words following; Viz,
“In Obedience to the aforegoing Order the Committee having mett, and received from Mr George his propoſals relating to a Light Houſe as is afore-mentioned found it neceſsary to take a View of the Place moſt convenient for the Erecting thereof, And did therefore on the thirteenth of March Inſtant being attended by ſeveral of the moſt experienced Maſters of Ships belonging to Boſton & Charles town go down to the outermoſt Iſlands at the Entrance of Boſton Harbour, And after our Landing on ſeveral of the ſaid Iſlands and Surveying the fame & Conferring with the ſaid Maſters thereon, who are unanimous in their Opinion, We report as followeth; Viz, That the Southermoſt Part of the Great Brewſter called Beacon Iſland is the moſt convenient Place for the Erecting a Light Houſe; Which will be of great Uſe not only for the Preſervation of the Lives & Eſtates of Perſons deſigning for the Harbour of Boſton & Charles-town but of any other Place within the Maſsachufetts Bay; — A Method for Erecting ſuch a Light-Houſe & Supporting the ſame is contained in Mr Georges Propoſals herewith delivered in, All which is ſubjected to ſuch Amendments & Regulations as the Court in their Wiſdom ſhall judge neceſsary.
“(Sign’d) In Behalf of the Committee —
“Reſolved by both Houſes that the Projection will be of general publick Benefit, & Service & is worthy to be encouraged; And,
“Ordered that the Committee of Members of both Houſes before appointed proceed to receive the Propoſals & offers of Perſons that will undertake to raiſe & maintain the ſaid Work And upon what Terms or Encouragement to be given by the Government in Laying a Duty of Tunnage upon Shipping, and report it: — J. Dudley” (Court Records, ix. 260, 261).
On the thirteenth of May, at a town-meeting, it was —
“Voted. That in Case the Genll Court Shall See Cause to proceed, to the Establishment of a Light-House for the Accommodation of Vessells passing in and out of this Harbour, That then the Select-men or the Representitives of this Town be desired to move to the Sd Court, That the Town of Boston as a Town may have the prefference before any perticuler persons in beinging Concerned in the Charge of Erecting & maintaining the Same, and being Intituled to the Proffits and Incomes thereof” (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, viii. 97).
“Report of the Committee appointed to receive Propoſals for the Raiſing of a Light Houſe, as follows; Viz,
“In Purſuance of the Order of this Court the twentieth of March paſt for Receiving Propoſals for the Raiſing & Maintaining a Light Houſe, the Committee gave publick Notice by Poſting up in Writing the Time & Place of their Meeting, And having met accordingly ſeveral Times did receive from the Select Men of Boſton & a Committee for their free Grammar Schools their Propoſals relating to the ſaid Light Houſe, And alſo the Deſire of the ſaid Town for their Preference before any particular Perſons; We alſo received a further Propoſal from Mr George, All which are herewith delivered in, and humbly ſubmitted:
“In Behalf of the Commtee. WM Tailer.
“May 27. 1713.
“Read & Voted that this Court proceed to the Conſideration of Raiſing a Light Houſe upon a moderate Toll, And that it be erected at the Charge of the Province, if this Court ſee meet, If not the Town of Boſton to have the Preference before any private Perſon or Company.
“Concurred by the Repreſentatives” (Court Records, ix. 279).
On the fifth of June a Committee was appointed “to Conſider & Report a moderate Duty for the Support of ye Light Houſe,” and on the seventeenth the Committee made its Report (Ibid. ix. 287, 304).
Meanwhile, on the ninth of June, the Selectmen of Boston —
“Voted. That in case the Genll Court do proceed to the Establishmt of a Light House. The Gentlem who represent this Town be desired after ye rules of duty for Light money is Stated, to move to the sd Court that the Town of Boston (preferable to any Private persons) may have the Refusall of bearing the Charge in Erecting and maintaining the Same” (Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, xi. 186).
Again, on the fourth of August, the Selectmen —
“Voted. That Mr Willm Payn & Mr John Colman be desired to procure of Mr Secretary or Some other meet perst, a Projection or draught of an Act Sutable to Lay before ye Genll Court, Relating to the Town of Bostons being concerned in Erecting and maintyning a Light House agreeable to a Scheme thereof drawn up by a Comittee of the sd Court” (Ibid. xi. 190).
And on the fifth of October, the Selectmen —
“Voted. That in order thereto they are of Oppinion that the matter relating to the Erecting a Light House be further pursued according to the projection of an Act now Layd before them, under such Emendatiō as they have now agreed unto” (Ibid. xi. 194).
The scheme was now allowed to languish, and no further steps appear to have been taken on the part of Boston. But the matter was revived in the spring of 1715, and on the ninth of June in that year the General Court —
“Ordered That a Lighthouſe be erected at the Charge of this Province, at the Entrance of the Harbour of Boſton on the fame Place & Rates propoſed in a Bill projected for the Town of Bostons Doing it, Accompanying this Vote” (Court Records, ix. 453).
On the fourteenth of June, a Committee consisting of William Tailer, Addington Davenport, William Payne, Samuel Thaxter, and Adam Winthrop, was appointed “to build a Light Houſe;” on the twenty-second of July an “Act for Building & Maintaining a Light Houſe upon the Great Brewſter called Beacon Iſland at the Entrance of the Harbour of Boſton” was read twice; on the same day the sum of five hundred pounds was voted “for a preſent Supply towards Carrying on that Affair” (Ibid. ix. 459, 475, 476); and on the twenty-third an Act was passed, by which it was provided —
“That there be a light house erected at the charge of the province, on the southernmost part of the Great Brewster called Beacon Island, to be kept lighted from sun-setting to sun-rising” (Province Laws, ii. 7).
Application was then made by the Committee to the Proprietors of Hull for a grant of Beacon Island, with the following result: —
“At a legal meetting of the proprieters of the undiuided land in Township of Hull held one munday the first day of August: . . . Coll Samuel Thaxter applied himself to the sd proprieters in the name of the Committee appointed by the great and ganarall corte in there Sessions In June 1715 for the bulding of a light house one Beacken Island so caled adioyning to the greate Brusters . . . the sd proprieters being censable that it will be a ganarall benifit to Trade and that thay in perticuler shall rape a great benifite thereby haue at the sd meeting by a Unanimus voate giuen and granted the sd Beecan Island to the prouince of the Massatusetts Bay for the use of a light house for euer” (Hull Proprietory Records, quoted by Shurtleff in his Topographical and Historical Description of Boston, p. 569).
The Committee appointed by the General Court not having the requisite leisure, the oversight of the work was given, on the twentieth of December, 1715, to William Payne and Capt. Zachariah Tuthill, and the Order of the House, concurred in by the Council, was consented to by Lieutenant-Governor William Tailer, who had likewise been Chairman of the Committee on the part of the Council (Court Records, x. 41; and cf. x. 93, 101, 115, 127, 129, 130). Dr. Shurtleff gives the history of the Lighthouse, but somewhat incorrectly and tells the story of the drowning of the first keeper of it, George Worthylake, 3 November, 1718 (gravestone at Copp’s Hill), and of the ballad thereon, — “the Lighthouse Tragedy, which Franklin says he was induced by his brother to write, print and sell about the streets; and which he also says sold prodigiously, though it was ‘wretched stuff’” (Topographical and Historical Description of Boston pp 560–574). A view of the Light is in the Massachusetts Magazine for February, 1789.
Mr. Noble also read extracts from some Notes on the Strangers’ Courts, established by the Colony in 1639, for the quick trial by jury of causes between persons one or both of whom were strangers and who wished to depart the jurisdiction. The Courts were re-organized as late as 1660, and were recognized in the legislation of 1672 and 1682.
The text of this communication follows: —
These were a part of the early judicial system established to meet an apparent need, and seem to have been instituted as an experiment. Their object is apparent, — to accommodate strangers visiting the Colony for trading or other purposes, and to provide a tribunal for the prompt and speedy settlement of differences between those who might suffer inconvenience or injury by being subjected to the delay ordinarily incident to the regular Courts.
The act establishing the new Courts is as follows: —
At the Generall Courte, houlden at Boston, the 22th of the 3th Mo, called May, 1639.
For the more speedy dispatch of all causes, wch shall concerne strangers, who cannot stay to attend the ordinary courts of justice, it is ordered, that the Governor, or Deputie, being assisted, wth any two of the magistrates, (whom hee may call to him to that end,) shall have power to heare & determine (by a jewrie of 12 men, or otherwise, as is vsed in other courtes) all causes wch shall arise betweene such strangers, or wherein any such stranger shalbee a partie, & all records of such ꝑceedings shalbee transmitted to the Secretary, (except himselfe bee one of the said magistrates, who shall assist in hearing such causes,) to bee entered as tryalls in other courtes at the charge of the parties. This order to continue till the Generall Courte in the 7th Month, come twelue month, & no longer.581
It takes the form of an Order, and is, on its face, of limited duration. It provides for a jury. As afterward shown, the Court could be called at any time on request of such stranger. It had the same jurisdiction, and the same modes of procedure, as the County Courts. No right of appeal to any higher tribunal, as was generally allowed, appears to have been given; and, in fact, any such appeal would have been inconsistent with the purpose of such a Court, and would have frustrated its very object. The design was to give prompt and summary justice, and the parties had to rely on the fairness and discretion and sound sense of the authority they had invoked. Provision is made for permanent record. No subsequent legislation appears on the Records at the date, in 1640, which had been fixed for the expiration of the Order; but, as the law appears in the editions of 1660 and 1672, its operation seems to have continued undisturbed and unquestioned, though later enactments appear to have removed some of the necessities for its use.
The original Act is embodied in the Laws of 1660 and of 1672. As there are some changes in the phraseology and provisions, and as this is the final codification, it may be well to give it as it there stands. Under the title of Courts, it reads: —
8. For the more ſpeedy diſpatch of all Cauſes which ſhall concern Strangers, who cannot without prejudice ſtay to attend the ordinary Courts of Juſtice;
L. 1. p. 15.
It is Ordered, That the Governour or Deputy Governour, with any two Magiſtrates, or when the Governour, Deputy Governour, cannot attend it, that any three Magiſtrates ſhall have power upon the requeſt of ſuch Strangers, to call a ſpecial Court to hear and determine all Cauſes civil and criminal (triable in any County Court according to the manner of proceeding in County Courts) which ſhall ariſe between ſuch Strangers, or wherein any ſuch Stranger ſhall be party. And all Records of ſuch proceedings, ſhall be tranſmitted to the Records of the Court of Aſſiſtants, to be entred as trials in other Courts (which ſhall be at the charge of the party caſt or condemned in the caſe. [1639.]
Special Courts for strangers
Records of ſpecial Courts to be tranſmitted to the Court of Aſſitſtants.
It is further Ordered that it ſhall be lawful for any Stranger, upon legal Summons, to enter any Action in any Court of this Jurifdiction, againſt any perſon not reſiding or Inhabitant amongſt us.582
L. 2. P. 15.
Strangers’ liberty to ſue at any Court.
The extension of opportunity granted by the last paragraph of the law as it there stands, and the reasons for such extension, are to be found in the Act of 1650, which permitted Strangers to sue one another in any of the Courts, and which, without abrogating the old law, made less occasion for its use: —
Att another Session of the Generall Court of Elections, held at Boston, the 18th of June, 1650.
Whereas oftentimes it comes to passe that stranngers coming amongst vs have suddajne occasions to trye actions of seuerall natures in our Courts of justice, and in respect it is very chardgeable to the partjes, and troublesome to the countrje to call speciall Courts for the determinac͠on of such cases, itt is ordered by this Court and authoritje thereof, that from henceforth it shallbe in the liberty of any stranngers, vpon legal sum̄ons, to enter any action against any person or persoñ, not residing or inhabiting amongst vs, in any Court wthin this jurisdic͠on.583
The Act of 1672 condenses former legislation in some respects and does away with Special Courts: —
Att the second Sessions of the Generall Court of Elections, held at Boston, 8th of October, 1672, on their Adjournment.
ITT is ordered, & by the authority of this Court enacted, that all strangers coming into this country shall & may henceforth haue liberty to sue one another in any Courts of this Colony that haue propper cognizance of such cases, and that any inhabitant may be sued by any strangers who are on im̄ediate imploy by nauigation, marriner, or merchant in any of our Courts, the sajd Strangers giving security to the clerke of the writts, to respond all extraordinary damages the sajd inhabitants shall sustejne by being sued out of the county to which he belongs, in case the strainger shall not obtejne judgment against such inhabitant so sued; and the law, title Special Courts, is hereby repealled, & made voyd, any law, custome or vsage to the contrary notwthstanding.584
The same appears in —
Several Laws and Orders made at the GENERAL COURT, the 8th. of October 1672 . . . printed by their Order. Edward Rawſon Secr.,585
varying somewhat in capitals, spelling and punctuation.
An Act in 1682 provided for the giving of security in certain cases: —
At a Gennerall Court, held at Boston, 11th October, 1682.
As an addition to the law, title Attachments, it is ordered by this Court & the authority thereof, that after the publication hereof, no strainger shall haue any process or attachments granted against a strainger, before the plaintiff give in sufficjent caution or security to respond all costs & damages that shall be judged against him; nor shall any ship or other vessell arriving from forreign parts, or the master or com̄ander thereof, be arrested or restrayned wthout like sufficient caution or security given by the plaintiff to respond all costs & damages as aforesajd.586
The same is likewise found in —
SEVERAL LAVVS Made at the ſecond session of the GENERAL COURT Held at Boſton, October 11. 1682. And Printed by their Order,
Edward Rawſon Secr‘587
These provisions as to actions by Strangers in the Common Law Courts seem to have continued until the abrogation of the old Charter, and not to have been afterward specifically revived.
There seems also to have been a quasi Probate Court for the benefit of strangers.
Under the title Wills, this provision appears in the Laws: —
2. And becauſe many Merchants, Seamen and other Strangers, reſorting hither oftentimes, Dying and leaving their Eſtates undiſpoſed of, and very difficult to be preſerved in the interim from one County Court to another:
It is therefore Ordered, that it ſhall and may be Lawfull for any two Magiſtrates with the Recorder or Clerk of the County Court, Meeting together, to allow of any Will of any decaſed party, to the Executors or other perfons in the VVill mentioned, ſo as the VVill be teſtified on the Oath of two or more VVitneſſes, and alſo to Graunt Adminiſtration to the Eſtate of any perſon dying inteſtate within the ſaid County, to the next of Kin, or to ſuch as ſhall be able to ſecure the ſame for the next of Kin, and the Recorder or Clerk of the Court, ſhall enforme the reſt of the Magiſtrates of the County, at the next County Court, of ſuch VVill proved or Adminiſtration Graunted, and ſhall Record the fame.588 [1652.]
Two Magiftrates to take probate of Wills
To graunt Adminiſtration
No papers relating to the Strangers’ Courts have come down to us in the Suffolk Court Files, so far as arranged, and the sole extant volume of the Records of the Court of Assistants, 1673–1692, is too late to warrant the expectation of any reference to them. There is one record there, however, of the case of a stranger, in 1681, who, having been brought into one of the inferior tribunals, a Commissioner’s Court, and being worsted there, had appealed to the Court of Assistants, — a record which shows an indulgence granted to him, as such stranger, by advancing the hearing of his appeal.589 This record also presents one of the curious questions which occasionally arose as to the sufficiency of certain species of evidence, especially in criminal cases, — questions not unfrequently puzzling in themselves, and vitally affecting the final judgment of the Court and the final result to the party concerned.
In pursuance of a vote passed at the Annual Meeting, the Chair appointed the President and Messrs. Augustus Lowell and Arthur T. Lyman a committee to represent the Society in connection with the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association to be held in Boston and Cambridge the last week in this month.
The Honorable John Chandler Bancroft Davis, LL.D., of Washington, D.C., and Arthur Twining Hadley, LL.D., of New Haven, Connecticut, were elected Corresponding Members.
by CHARLES CARROLL EVERETT.
Joseph Henry Allen was born in Northborough, Massachusetts, 21 August, 1820. His father was the Reverend Joseph Allen, D.D. The maiden name of his mother was Lucy Clark Ware, and she was the daughter of the elder Henry Ware. In both lines of descent he was of good old New England stock. By a singular coincidence it was at very nearly the same date that the two families which were to be united by him made their permanent settlement in this country. The Welds did this in 1636, and the Aliens only three years later, in 1639. Few could have better claim than he to represent the Brahmin caste of New England, of which Dr. Holmes used to speak. His father was both minister and teacher, as was also one of his younger brothers, the other two being teachers; one uncle on his father’s side and four cousins were teachers; and seven ancestors upon his mother’s side were ministers. The name of his grandfather, Henry Ware, suggests not merely the thought of the ministerial profession, but of this profession in its saintliest and most influential aspect. “He was the progenitor of that admirable race upon which — as Dr. Holmes said to Professor Stowe — the fall of Adam had not left the slightest visible impression.”590 In few, if any, of his descendants was this racial immunity more marked than in the subject of this sketch.
In his infancy, it seemed as if Dr. Allen’s rich spiritual inheritance was to be counterbalanced by a feeble constitution. He was a puny infant, and one leg was so drawn up that it was feared that he would never be able to walk. He was carried from Northborough to Boston by an aunt, on a pillow, that he might have the advantage of the surgical skill of Dr. James Jackson. He had also a weakness of the eyes, that was overcome only by the greatest care. It is interesting to recall this unpromising beginning in connection with the long walks in which he took such delight all his life, and his splendid service as a scholar. Indeed these walks, together with a simple and natural way of living in other respects, preserved him through life in a general condition of good health, though he could never be called robust. One circumstance which must have contributed to this happy result was the fact that his father was farmer as well as minister and teacher. His boys were taught to help him in this occupation. Their mother taught them, in common with their sisters, sewing, knitting, and housekeeping. Thus our young Brahmin had a busy boyhood, that did much to correct the one-sidedness of his caste. He acquired by these active employments, not only health, but a lifelong interest in mechanical arts.
Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts from a portrait from life.
Of course he must go to college. The chief, if not the only, help that his father could offer him toward this end, was the gift of his time and a little teaching. He mainly fitted himself for college, and certainly he had a good teacher. His life in Cambridge while he was a student was well adapted to develop the Brahmin side of his nature, which the various occupations of his boyhood may have partially repressed. He had a room in the house of Henry Ware, junior, and his meals in that of his grandfather, Henry Ware, senior. These arrangements not only brought him under the best influences, but relieved him very largely of the expenses incident to a college life. The expenses that remained he met chiefly by teaching. The long winter vacation was designed to enable students to do this. He taught in Walpole, New Hampshire, and, possibly, in Bellows Falls, Vermont. He graduated from college in 1840 at the age of twenty, his rank entitling him to the honors of the Φ. Β. Κ. He at once entered the Harvard Divinity School, from which he graduated in 1843. For a large part of the time that he was in the School, he and his friend and fellow-student, Hiram Withington, cooked their own meals. He did not need for his part in this to make much demand upon the training that he had received in housekeeping, for, with the exception of an occasional hamper from home, the young men lived mostly on cornmeal mush and milk. By this economy he was able to indulge his taste for music; and he spent more money on concerts than on food. Indeed, music was always a great delight to him. Often during his later life at Cambridge, he would walk to Boston to attend a concert or oratorio. He played the flute, and this was one of his favorite forms of relaxation. From his youth up, idleness was an abomination to him. If there was nothing else to do there were always books to be read. During his college life he read all of Scott’s novels and those of Miss Edgeworth while waiting for his meals when he was a little early in arriving, or when they were a little late.
In the autumn after his graduation from the School, he was settled over a church in what is now Jamaica Plain (Boston), where he remained four years. In 1847, he left this place and was settled in Washington, D. C. After three years, he accepted a call to become the minister of the Independent Congregational Society of Bangor, Maine. The life at Bangor was by far the most interesting and important part of his career as a minister. It included very much that was extremely pleasant, and some experiences that were very painful. It is not worth while to go back and discuss at length the causes that led to discontent with Mr. Allen’s ministry on the part of some of his parishioners. Prominent among the elements that caused dissension were his bold utterances in regard to Slavery. It was, indeed, a difficult time for a minister who had strong convictions in regard to this matter. There were few churches in the country in which were not found those who were stirred to fierce opposition if such convictions were earnestly uttered from the pulpit. There were other elements of dissatisfaction, but these need not detain us here. On the other hand, no minister could have more loving and loyal friends than those who gathered about Mr. Allen in these troublous times.
In 1857, he renewed the resignation of his pastorate, which had once before been offered and refused. This time it was accepted. The Society was, however, left in a state of almost hopeless division. This was the result of no word or deed of his. No similar discourse could be sweeter or nobler than that in which he took leave of the people that he loved. In addition to this personal regard, he left behind him a reputation for scholarship of which his former parishioners were very proud. A story had currency there of a minister of another denomination who finally got so tired of finding Allen always ahead of him in every scholarly topic which came up in their conversation that he made up his mind to get the start of him for once. He saw a notice of a new book published in Germany. He ordered it post-haste, and, when it came, devoted every spare moment to the reading of it. Finally he rushed over to Allen to display his treasure. As soon, however, as he named his book Allen exclaimed in his quick way, “Have n’t you seen the review of that?” His new acquaintance was, with Allen, an old story.
After leaving Bangor, Mr. Allen had two or three pastorates, each lasting one or two years. He preached often in the way of regular supply or as a labor of love, but he had no other engagement of equal length.
In 1867, he made what proved to be his permanent home in Cambridge. His residence in Cambridge must have been, in some respects, the most interesting period of his life. By degrees he took, in the estimation of the world and especially of his brother ministers, the place that really belonged to him. He loved to attend ministerial gatherings, and at them he was always listened to with special interest. The clear and luminous style which marked his more carefully prepared published articles showed him to be one of the best writers and thinkers of the Unitarian denomination.
When, in 1878, his friend Dr. Frederic H. Hedge resigned the position of non-resident professor of Church History in the Harvard Divinity School, he suggested the name of Mr. Allen as one fitted to carry on the instruction in that branch of study. He drew up a paper in which it was said that if Mr. Allen were younger he would be a candidate for a permanent Professorship, but that under the circumstances it was recommended that he be appointed Lecturer in Church History until a Professor should be selected. This paper was signed, or its recommendation otherwise endorsed, by all members of the Faculty, and sent to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Mr. Allen was at once appointed to the proposed Lectureship, with the understanding that the appointment was a temporary one. In spite of his many qualifications for the place, it was thought best for the School that the position should be permanently filled; and a search at once began for the proper person. It was not till 1882 that the person was found. Mr. Allen’s connection with the School lasted thus four years. Probably no occupation of his life was more congenial to him than this, in which his taste for teaching and his interest in theology and in history were both gratified.
Dr. Allen’s life was at all times a very busy one, and the occupations to which he gave himself must have been for the most part very interesting to him. He was a devoted student of the classics, and, in connection with Professor Greenough of Harvard College, he prepared a series of Latin text-books that are widely used. He was for a number of years the editor of the Christian Examiner, and later of the Unitarian Review. He was fond of authorship, and began early to publish books. His first book — Ten Discourses on Orthodoxy — was published while he was still in Washington, in 1849. This was followed by Hebrew Men and Times, in 1861; Fragments of Christian History, in 1880; Our Liberal Movement in Theolooy, in 1882; a sequel to this, in 1887; Christian History in its Three Great Periods, in three volumes, in 1883; and Positive Religion, in 1891. In 1896, he revised the English translation of Renan’s Life of Jesus, and the next year translated his Antichrist. The revision he found more work than a translation would have been; but the labor was sometimes brightened by the ludicrous mistakes that he found, — as when le dernier soupir was translated, “the last supper” and la pécheresse, “the fisherwoman.” His minor writings are extremely numerous.
From the titles of his books, as given above, it will be seen that Dr. Allen’s interest was largely in the direction of History. He had little interest in Philosophy, and I doubt if he had much respect for it. He had, however, a profound spiritual insight that fitted him to be an interpreter of the great historical movements that were the objects of his study. So far as his books are concerned, I understand that his Christian History in its Three Great Periods especially had a wide circulation. Indeed, by its grouping of facts and by its clear and wise interpretation of the principles that manifested themselves in the movements which it described, this work was fitted to afford such help as could not easily be found elsewhere. His latest literary work was the translation of Renan’s Apostles. This was finished only a few days before he was seized by the brief illness that ended with his death. He died on the twentieth of March, 1898. A Memorial Meeting was held in Channing Hall, Boston, on Monday, the eleventh of April, at which the Rev. John W. Chadwick and the Rev. Edward H. Hall delivered addresses containing a highly appreciative estimate of Dr. Allen’s work and of his scholarly attainments.591
I wish that it were as easy to paint the character and personality of our departed associate as it is to describe the facts of his outer history. I am inclined to place sincerity among his most marked intellectual characteristics. More than most men, he seemed to face life just as it is, or just as he had reason to think that it is. So far as the higher themes of thought are concerned, this trait is well illustrated by certain chapters in his Positive Religion. It was seen also in relation to the facts of practical life. With this sincerity went, as its result, an unusual transparency of character and mood. He united, in a singular degree, modesty with a very clear recognition of his own worth. He made no demand upon the recognition of others, yet such recognition was obviously extremely grateful to him. He was, I think, singularly unselfish, so much so that, at times, he might seem almost impersonal. Yet, at any call for service, he showed boldness and an untiring energy. Something of this impersonality was seen in his relation to matters of thought. One could hardly be less of a partisan than he. In his conversation and more public speech it seemed sometimes as though it was less he that spoke than it was the thought that spoke through him. What he said seemed more like a monologue than a direct address. Naturally his speech sometimes lost effectiveness from this course, although no one could marshal thoughts and words to better effect than he, when he took the command of them. Thus he lived, — accepting no shams and offering no shams to the world; eager to do the work for which he felt himself most fitted, but if that which seemed the best did not offer, taking cheerfully the next best, and doing this in a way that made it to be the best.
Dr. Allen was happy in his friendships. To name only one or two of these, — his long and close intimacy with Dr. Hedge was one of the great satisfactions of his life. The friendship of Dr. James Martineau, though from the nature of the case less close, was also a delight.592 He was also fortunate in his family life. On the twenty-second of May, 1845, he married Anna Minot Weld, of Jamaica Plain. Three daughters and three sons were born to him, of whom all except one daughter, together with their mother, survive him.
In an admirable paper593 to which I have already been a debtor in this notice, Mr. Chadwick thus describes the personal appearance of Dr. Allen: —
“There was something beautiful in his personal appearance; his complexion so fresh and clear, telling a tale of perfect temperance; in his face a breezy look, the snowy hair blown back from the full brow —
“‘As if the man had fixed his face
In many a solitary place
Against the wind and sky.’”
Dr. Allen was an active Member of this Society almost from its beginning, having a place upon the Committee of Publication. A few months before his death, he proposed to resign from the Society for the reason that he could no longer perform his duties in it, and he did not wish to be, as he said, a “dummy member.” At the earnest request of the Council, he withdrew this resignation. In thanking him for this submission to its wishes, the Council added an expression of the profound satisfaction it felt —
“in being able to retain upon the Roll of the Society the name of an Associate who has already contributed much to its success, whose fellowship has been a source of pride, whose presence is a benediction, and whose services, to whatever extent and in whatever direction he may be able and willing to render them in the future, will be of inestimable value to the society.”
About the same time Dr. Allen resigned, for similar reasons, from the Examiner Club, of which he and Dr. Hedge were the founders. The Club made him an Honorary Member, — a title which was created for the occasion, — and expressed the wish that he would join in its gatherings as often as possible.
In 1879, he received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Harvard College, and in 1891, that of Doctor of Divinity.