A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 27 March, 1902, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lyman Kittredge, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from Mr. Francis Apthorp Foster accepting Resident Membership.
The President announced the death in London on the sixth instant of Benjamin Franklin Stevens, L.H.D., a Corresponding Member.
Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis gave a sketch of the careers of Mr. Stevens and of his brother, the late Henry Stevens, as booksellers, publishers, and antiquarians. Mr. Davis spoke of the many sumptuous volumes printed for them, and exhibited a copy of The New Laws of the Indies, privately printed in 1893, which contains an interesting dedication to the Hon. John Chandler Bancroft Davis, another Corresponding Member of the Society.
Mr. George Fox Tucker read a paper on Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and his landing at Cuttyhunk, where it is proposed to erect during the coming summer a shaft seventy-five feet high to commemorate the tercentenary of the event.
Mr. Henry H. Edes spoke as follows:
I wish to call the attention of the Society to, a misapprehension which has existed for at least sixty years, not only in this community, but among scholars and in the popular mind throughout the country. I refer to the honor attributed to Washington of being the first person upon whom Harvard College conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws. Until within two years I supposed that this claim — advanced by others, but never by Washington himself — was well founded, but while making, for another purpose, a critical examination of the Quinquennial Catalogue of the University issued in 1900 under the editorship of our associate Mr. Noyes, I discovered that the claim was without foundation. It was my intention to communicate this fact to the Society at its next meeting, but circumstances prevented me from so doing and the matter was, for the time, forgotten. Quite recently, it was forcibly recalled to my mind when, on glancing through a copy of the Harvard Graduates’ Magazine for June of last year, I found the misstatement repeated, — this time by one of the professors of history in Harvard University. It is, therefore, important that public attention should be called to the facts in the case.
In President Quincy’s History of Harvard University, written at the request of the Corporation and published in 1840, is the following passage:
After the evacuation of the town of Boston by the British troops, which took place on the 17th of March, 1776, congratulatory addresses from towns and legislatures were universally presented to General Washington, for the signal success which had attended his measures. The Corporation and Overseers, in accordance with the prevailing spirit and as an “expression of the gratitude of this College for his eminent services in the cause of his country and to this society,” conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, by the unanimous vote of both boards. General Washington was the first iudividual on whom this degree was conferred by Harvard College. The Diploma was signed by all the members of the Corporation except John Hancock, who was then in Philadelphia, and it was immediately published in the newspapers of the period, with an English translation (ii. 167).344
Turning to Samuel Atkins Eliot’s Sketch of the History of Harvard College and of its Present State, published in 1848, we find this statement:
Another event, of a more agreeable character, was the bestowing of all honorary degree on General Washington, after his brilliant success in driving the British forces from Boston. This was the first doctorate of laws ever conferred by Harvard College; and, though it may not seem a peculiarly appropriate reward for military achievements, yet it must be remembered that Washington was not merely a military man; that he had already given large evidence, in his native state, of that wisdom, moderation, ability, and constancy, which mark a man likely to prove equal to all occasions, and to influence all the circumstances by which he may be surrounded. It was to the civilian, and not to the successful military commander, that the degree was given; and if, at the moment, there were any deficiency of proof of his actual attainments to justify the compliment, it must have been revealed to the prophetic eye of the College government, that the time was not far distant when the degree would derive honor from having been conferred on him. Never, in the history of nations, has there been a more difficult and delicate task than fell to the lot of our fathers in devising and organizing a form of government; and never was there an occasion when a knowledge of every kind of law, “utriusque juris, tum naturæ et gentium, tum civilis,” was more imperatively demanded by the exigencies of the case, or more satisfactorily exhibited by the leading minds of the country. Among them Washington was conspicuous; and when it became his duty to support the Constitution adopted, and to execute the laws framed under it, no man could have shown a more enlightened and comprehensive acquaintance with his legal duties. It was the union of high intellectual and moral qualities, which produced the matchless character that can scarcely be too greatly admired and loved.
It was not inappropriate, then, for the College to testify its respect for such a man, in the only way in its power; by conferring a degree which, even at that time, was suited to the capacity he had shown, and which was destined to be rendered a greater honor to all others, from its having been received by Washington. Nor call this act be urged as a reason for doing the same to other holders of office, whether military or civil, unless, like him, they confer dignity on the place they fill, rather than derive from it their own title to respect (pp. 83, 84).
In 1776, General George Washington received the first LL.D. ever granted by Harvard University (ix. 516).
Here, indeed, is an array of authorities which has warranted the general reader, at least, in believing that Washington was fairly entitled to the honor claimed for him; but in point of fact, Washington is not entitled to the distinction of having been the first recipient of this degree from our oldest University. Three years before the Doctorate of Laws was conferred upon Washington, the following action was taken by the Corporation:
At a Meeting of the President and Fellows,
July 21sṭ 1773
being Commencement Day.
[Voted] That the degree of Doctor of Divinity be conferred on the Rev’d Mr. Samuel Mather of Boston.
That Professor Winthrop be desired to accept of the degree of Doctor of Laws.
That the President be desired to accept of the degree of Doctor of Divinity (College Book No. 7; p. 260).345
The Boston Gazette of Saturday, 26 July, 1773 (No. 995, p. 3/1), printed the following account of Commencement that year:
BOSTON, July 26.
WEDNESDAY being the Anniversary Commencement at HARVARD-COLLEGE, Cambridge, after the prefatory Prayer by the Rev’d President Locke, the Exercises of the Morning by the Candidates for the Bachellors Degree began with a salutatory Oration in Latin, then followed the syllogistic Disputes on various Subjects — to these succeeded a forensic Dispute on the Legality of enslaving the Africans — a Dialogue in Latin — a Dialogue in Arabic — An English Oration on the Progress and Advantages of the Arts and Sciences.
The Exercises in the Afternoon by the Candidates for the Masters Degree, began with a Dialogue on Music and Poetry, in English — the syllogistic Disputes in Latin followed — An Oration in the Indian Language was delivered by an Indian Missionary — An Oration in English on the Advantages of the Study of the Laws of England concluded their Performances: The several Degrees were conferred in the usual Manner on the following young Gentlemen, viz.
Bachellors of Arts.
Masters of Arts.
Rev’d Joseph Howe, graduated at Yale-College — Mr. Thomas Melville, graduated at New-Jersey College, were admitted ad eundem.
The Degree of Doctor in Divinity was conferred on the Rev’d Samuel Locke, President of Harvard-College, — and on the Rev’d Samuel Mather, of this town. Also
The Degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on the Honorable Professer Winthrop, pro meritis.
Born in Boston, 8 December, 1714,346 namesake and fourth in descent from the Founder of Boston, John Winthrop graduated from Harvard College in 1732, and, in 1738, was appointed Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, — a chair which he filled with distinction for more than forty years and until his death. His attainments in science brought him the friendship of Franklin347 and the recognition of learned bodies at home and abroad, the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Society of London electing him to fellowship.348 From 1765 till 1779, he was a Fellow of the Corporation of Harvard College and in that capacity he signed the diploma given to General Washington, 3 April, 1776,349 — “Johannes Winthrop, LL.D., Mat. et Phil. P. Hol.” He was twice elected to the Presidency of the College, — in 1769 and 1774, but declined the honor. He sat in the House, where he rendered conspicuous service on the popular side, and was elected to the Council, where he served in 1773, but the next year he was negatived by the Royal Governor. In 1774, he was chosen a delegate to the Provincial Congress; and in the following year he resumed his seat at the Council Board, and was appointed Judge of Probate for the County of Middlesex, an office which he held at the time of his death, which occurred at Cambridge, on the third of May, 1779, at the age of 64.350 Eleven years before that event, on the sixth of May, 1768, the Rev. Dr. Charles Chauncy wrote thus to Dr. Ezra Stiles:
Mr. Winthrop, Hollisian professor, I have been very free and intimate with. He is by far the greatest man at the college in Cambridge. Had he been of a pushing genius, and a disposition to make a figure in the world, he might have done it to his own honour, as well as the honour of the college. I suppose none will dispute his being the greatest mathematician and philosopher in this country; and, was the world acquainted with his other accomplishments, he would be ranked among the chief for his learning with reference to the other sciences. He is, in short, a very critical thinker and writer; knows a vast deal in every part of literature, and is as well able to manage his knowledge in a way of strong reasoning as any man I know.351
President Quincy’s appreciative notice of Professor Winthrop contains the following paragraph:
The attainments of Professor Winthrop were not limited to mathematical and philosophical pursuits. His active, vigorous, and comprehensive mind embraced within its sphere various and extensive knowledge; and he is, perhaps, better entitled to the character of a universal scholar than any individual of his time, in this country. He wrote in Latin with purity and elegance, studied the Scriptures critically in their original languages, was well versed in those of modern Europe, and, without dispute, was one of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers America had then produced.352
It is to this loyal son of Harvard, who for nearly half a century held an honorable place among scholars and men of science in both hemispheres, and whose services to the State during the Revolutionary period, in the forum and upon the bench, were of a high order, that belongs the distinction of being the first alumnus and the first individual to receive from Harvard College the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Mr. Albert Matthews remarked:
In glancing through the newspapers of that period, I have not infrequently noticed communications which were evidently written by Professor Winthrop. Some of these, if my recollection is good, were signed with his name, others with the initials J. W., while some were anonymous; but I do not think there need be any hesitation in attributing them to Professor Winthrop. They dealt with earthquakes, thunder-storms, electricity, cornets, meteors, and such natural phenomena.353
About a fortnight ago, while examining some Boston papers of 1776, I stumbled on the Washington diploma; and when Mr. Edes told me last week that he intended making some remarks about it to-day, I said that I would bring a copy. As Quincy states, the diploma was printed in the Boston papers both in Latin and in English. The Latin text was given by Quincy himself,354 and has been printed by Mr. Ford;355 but so far as I know the English text has never been reprinted.356 Eliot could scarcely have read the diploma with attention, for part of what he says is rather wide of the mark. The English text is as follows:
The CORPORATION of HARVARD COLLEGE in Cambridge, in New-England, to all the faithful in Christ, to whom these Presents shall come, GREETING.
WHEREAS Academical Degrees were originally instituted for this Purpose, That Men, eminent for Knowledge, Wisdom and Virtue, who have highly merited of the Republick of Letters and the Common Wealth, should be rewarded with the Honor of these Laurels; there is the greatest Propriety in conferring such Honor on that very illustrious Gentleman, GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq; the accomplished General of the confederated Colonies in America; whose Knowledge and patriotic Ardor are manifest to all: Who, for his distinguished Virtues, both Civil and Military, in the first Place being elected by the Suffrages of the Virginians, one of their Delegates, exerted himself with Fidelity and singular Wisdom in the celebrated Congress of America, for the Defence of Liberty, when in the utmost Danger of being for ever lost, and for the Salvation of his Country; and then, at the earnest Request of that Grand Council of Patriots, without Hesitation, left all the Pleasures of his delightful Seat in Virginia, and the Affairs of his own Estate, that through all the Fatigues and Dangers of a Camp, without accepting any Reward, he might deliver New-England from the unjust and cruel Arms of Britain, and defend the other Colonies; and Who, by the most signal Smiles of Divine Providence on his Military Operations, drove the Fleet and Troops of the Enemy with disgraceful Precipitation from the Town of Boston, which for eleven Months had been shut up, fortified, and defended by a Garrison of above seven Thousand Regulars; so that the Inhabitants, who suffered a great Variety of hardships and Cruelties while under the Power of their Oppressors, now rejoice in their Deliverance, the neighbouring Towns are freed from the Tumults of Arms, and our University has the agreeable Prospect of being restored to its antient Seat.
Know ye therefore, that We, the President and Fellows of Harvard-College in Cambridge, (with the Consent of the Honored and Reverend Overseers of our Academy) have constituted and created the aforesaid Gentleman, GEORGE WASHINGTON, who merits the highest Honor, Doctor of Laws, the Law of Nature and Nations, and the Civil Law; and have given and granted him at the same Time all Rights, Privileges, and Honors to the said Degree pertaining.
In Testimony whereof, We have affixed the Common Seal of our University to these Letters, and subscribed them with our Hand writing this Third Day of April in the Year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred Seventy-six.357
In the discussion which followed, remarks were made by the President and by Mr. Charles A. Snow.
Mr. Denison R. Slade read a paper on the portraits of Montcalm, which he illustrated by an oil portrait of the Marquis which he had bought at auction in Boston a few years ago. It is said to be the only oil portrait of Montcalm in America. Mr. Slade also exhibited a view of the Chateau de Candiac, where the Marquis was born, and several photographs and engravings of persons and places mentioned in the paper. Mr. Slade concluded by giving the following list of the portraits of Montcalm:358
- 1. Lithograph (1830?). An engraving after the same original is to be found in Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe.
- 2. Mezzotint. Colored. Sergent del. & sculp. 1790. Paris. Bust in oval. Armor. Front. There is a modern reprint of the colored mezzotint.
- 3. Etching by H. B. Hall, Morrisania, N. Y., 1868. (Private Plate.) Apparently after the picture in the possession of the Marquis of Montcalm, also reproduced in Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe.
- 4. Steel engraving. J. B. Massé pinx. A.P.D.R. J. Barbié sculpt. Dedie a Mr. son fils le Chevr. de Montcalm, Major du Regt. Rl Normandie. A Paris, chez Ysabey, Me d’Estampes. Seven lines engraved, telling of his victory at Ticonderoga over Loudon and Abercrombie in 1758, and of his death in 1759.
- 5. Montcalm’s Headquarters, Quebec. He died here 14 September, 1759. 12°. Etching on 4° paper.
- 6. Montcalm trying to stop the Massacre. Darley del. A. Bellott (?) sc. Oblong 8°. Tinted woodcut.
- 7. Montcalm, Mort de. Desfontaines del. Moret Sculp. 1789. Printed in colors, similar to Sergent.
- 8. Montcalm. Delalive delt. Landon dirext. Histoire de France. 12°.
- 9. Montcalm by Alix in colors.
- 10. Montcalm, L. J., Marquis de. Within oval, in uniform, head to right, view of burial underneath. 8°.
- 11. Montcalm and his Officers. By Watteau. Described by Pouchot, Memoir upon the late War in North America, i. 218, 219. Mr. Slade owns an engraving with the following inscription: “Vateau delineavit. Grave par G. Chevillet, Graveur de Sa M.I.: Mort Du Marquis De Montcalm. Dedie au Roi.”
- 12. Montcalm, Louis Joseph, Marquis de, Lieutenant General des Armees de France. “Non sibi, Sed Patriæ vixit.” Reproduced in the Narrative and Critical History of America from Charles de Bonnechose’s Montcalm et le Canada Français.359
- 13. There is a bust of Montcalm in the Historical Museum at Versailles.
Mr. William Coolidge Lane exhibited two miniatures — one of Henry Hamilton, Lieutenant-Governor of Detroit, the other of his wife, Elizabeth Lee — lately received by the Library of Harvard College from Mrs. C. L. Rice, a great-granddaughter of Governor Hamilton’s brother, of Grange Erin, County Cork, Ireland.
Mr. Lane also remarked upon two interesting manuscripts of Hamilton, received from the same source, one of which he had shown at the previous January meeting of the Society;360 and spoke as follows:
The first of these manuscripts is a Journal of the British expedition from Detroit which Hamilton conducted in 1778–79, and which effected the capture of Vincennes. The Journal extends from 6 August, 1778, two months before the starting of the expedition, and ends 16 June, 1779, on the arrival of the author as a captive in the hands of the Americans at Williamsburg, Virginia. The other manuscript is a volume of reminiscences, written in 1792 while the author was Governor of Bermuda, and begins with his early experiences as a private in the 15th Regiment. This regiment was stationed at several different posts in England from 1755 to 1758. In 1758 it was sent to Halifax, and was present at the siege of Louisburg, in that year. Lieutenant Hamilton was wounded in the hand during the siege, and in December was granted leave of absence from his post, and embarked for Boston, arriving safely after experiencing severe storms and suffering from lack of provisions on the way. He visited Newport and Philadelphia, and returned by sea to Halifax in May, 1759, just in time to join his regiment for the attack on Quebec. On the eighteenth of June, the regiment arrived off the Isle aux Coudres, where they found Sir Charles Hardy’s squadron at anchor. On the appearance of the fleet under Admiral Saunders, they proceeded up the river, and landed on the Isle of Orleans near the Church of St. Lawrence. Later, a detachment, including Lieutenant Hamilton, was set across to take the pass at Point Levi, and occupied the Parish Church there.
Some details are given of the skirmish above the Falls of Montmorency and of the general attack on Montmorency on the thirty-first of July. Next, the writer gives an account of the diversion made early in September at Deschambault when a sloop and a schooner further up the river were burned, and of the attempted landing at the Pointe aux Trembles. His account of the ascent of the steep bank to the Plains of Abraham, of the battle there, and of the capture of Quebec is graphic, but seems to contain no new facts. The 15th Regiment was stationed at Quebec during the winter, but Hamilton and a detachment were ordered, as a safeguard, to the Nunnery at the General Hospital, where he made friends with several of the French prisoners; and he expresses great admiration for the skill and generous service of the nuns. Early in the spring he returned to garrison duty at Quebec. He tells of the prisoner rescued from the ice in the river on the twenty-sixth of April, who gave the garrison the first notice of the approach of the French from Montreal.
On the twenty-eighth of April, in the course of the attack on Quebec, he was captured and taken to the same hospital where a few weeks before he had been stationed as a guard. The following is his account of his capture:
So, bereft of council when the French miscellany came down, my brave fellows being cool and collected gave a fire, but observing that their right had disappeared, thought it high time to join them. However, I declare they twice faced about and by word of command fired on the pursuers, who indeed were not formidable; for if we fled like quicksilver, they pursued with the composure and gravity of a cathedral. I, poor I, at length fagged, disheartened, unbreakfasted, booted, wet and dirty, concluded I should be arrested by a ball in my back, that there was nothing but vanity in resisting, and vexation of spirit in running away from Frenchmen, so I bravely stood my ground, for I was done up, and two soldiers of the Regiment de la Reine me couchèrent en joue. . . . I begged to be led to some officer. They took me to the adjutant of the Regiment de Berri. I ought to be ashamed that his name should have lost a place in my memory. “Sir,” said he, “your situation is very dangerous, the savages are at hand, exchange uniforms with me, I will furnish you an escort.” I was about excusing myself, because my uniform was of soldier’s cloath and my waistcoat striped flannel, but, as he said, ’twas not a time for ceremony. I accepted his coat, turned my waistcoat, mounted his white cockade, and then thankfully taking my leave of this generous officer, I turned to my escort, and with the authority of an officer wearing a French cockade, cried, Allons, mes enfans, marchez. They relished the gasconade, and faithfully escorted me to an officer of artillery, who directed them to proceed to the rear and deliver me to Monsieur de Boishebert, who commanded a party, I believe, composed of Indians and Canadians.
Later, Lieutenant Hamilton was conveyed to Montreal, and finally sent to New York to be exchanged. On the way a stop was made at Crown Point, where, Hamilton says, —
I met my valued friend, Richd Montgomery, afterwards the most capable officer in the service of the Rebel Americans.
After being exchanged, Hamilton returned to Canada in the fall and spent the winter at Quebec, but in June, 1761, went back to New York with his regiment, which was encamped on Staten Island. Being troubled with the ague, he was allowed to go into East Jersey, and there, on a tavern sign near the Passaic, he painted a view of the Falls of the Passaic.
On the eleventh of October the regiment sailed for Martinique, which they reached 2 January, 1762. Hamilton writes:
At the same time that we viewed with pleasure the bold scenery, we could not but think upon the uncommon strength of a country, which showed us deep ravines to pass and steep bills to climb. . . . On the day [of] our landing (7th Jany, ’62), a most magnificent and interesting scene presented. The numerous men of war and transports beating up to wind ward in Fort Royal [now Fort de France] Harbor, the view of the forts and batteries on shore firing upon our frigates which were cannonading them, the sight of Pigeon Island, Fort Royal, the heights of Tartenson, Garnier, the Capuchins, formed altogether a noble spectacle. We landed in the afternoon about 3 miles from Fort Royal (the coast batteries being all silenced) and lay upon our arms.
Here Governor Hamilton’s journal unfortunately breaks off, and the blotter which he was using is left in its place between the pages. Had he continued his reminiscences, he would have told us of the capture of Havana, where the regiment was stationed for eleven months, and of its return in 1763 to New York and by way of Albany and Lake Champlain to Canada. In the summer of 1768 the regiment was sent back to England, and remained at different posts in England, Scotland, and Ireland until early in 1776, when it was sent to Cape Fear, North Carolina, under the command of Cornwallis. Just when Hamilton was detached from the regiment, I do not know, but we find him in September, 1775, leaving Montreal to take charge of the British post at Detroit as Lieutenant-Governor.361
In October, 1778, Hamilton set out from Detroit with a small company, and at this point his contemporary journal takes up the story of his life again. He conducted his little company across the end of Lake Erie, up the Maumee and down the Wabash rivers. His account of the difficulty of the journey and of their dealings with the Indians is most interesting, and does not suggest any plausible ground for the name which was given him later by the Americans of “Hair-buying Hamilton,” and for the vindictive hatred that was shown to him on account of the popular belief in his offering rewards for scalps rather than for prisoners. After great difficulties and hardships the company reached Vincennes on the seventeenth of December, and finding it quite unprepared for an attack, easily took possession of it. Here they remained through the winter, improving the defences as well as they could and sending out scouting parties as far as Kaskaskia. So successful were they in preventing information of their movements being carried to the Americans, that it was some weeks before Colonel George Rogers Clark, stationed at Kaskaskia, beard that Vincennes had fallen. With equal perseverance and disregard for hardship, Clark immediately set forth (5 February) to recapture the post, and while Hamilton and his party supposed that access from the south was impossible on account of the water and the flooded condition of the country, Clark’s band pushed on through swollen rivers and water-covered plains, and on the twenty-fourth of February recaptured Vincennes and took Hamilton prisoner. In company with others he was taken by the Americans by water down the Wabash and up the Ohio to the Falls of the Ohio, whence they travelled by land to Williamsburg, Virginia. With the arrival at Williamsburg and the lodging of the prisoners in jail, the diary ends 17 June, 1779.
In October a parole was offered to Hamilton and his companions, but it was not of such a nature that they could accept it. The winter was passed at Williamsburg and was attended by great suffering, and it was not until the tenth of October, 1780, that a satisfactory parole was arranged, under which Hamilton was allowed to go to New York to negotiate for his exchange. An exchange was effected on the fourth of March, 1781, and in May he set sail for England, arriving in London on the twenty-first of June. Having shown to Lord George Germain the journal which he had kept, he was advised to write out an account of the expedition to be transmitted to General Haldimand. This he did under date of 6 July, 1781, and this account, founded on the Journal which has lately come into the possession of the Harvard Library, — abbreviated in all that relates to the experiences of the party on their way to Vincennes, and enriched with some details in regard to later occurrences, — has been printed.362
The English government soon proposed to send Hamilton back to Canada, and it was suggested by Haldimand that he should be made Lieutenant-Governor. In August, 1782, he was in Quebec, and on the fifteenth of November, 1784, when Governor Haldimand left Canada, Hamilton succeeded him as Deputy-Governor. On the thirteenth of August, 1785, however, he was recalled and on the second of November, 1785, left Quebec. He was soon after appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Bermuda, and was Governor of Bermuda from 1788 to 1794. In 1794 he was transferred to Dominica as Governor, and two years later (29 September, 1796), while still holding the office, he died at Antigua, where he had been for some months on account of his health.
Governor Hamilton married Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Lee, of Banbury, Oxfordshire, and left one child, Mary Anne Pierpoint, who died unmarried on the twelfth of December, 1871. His father was Henry Hamilton, M. P. for Donegal and Collector of the Port of Cork, born February, 1692, and died in 1743. His grandfather was Gustavus Hamilton, the first Viscount Boyne. An older brother of Governor Hamilton was Sackville Hamilton, a Privy Councillor and Chief Secretary for Ireland, whose wife was a daughter of Bishop Berkeley. It is their great-granddaughter, Mrs. Rice, who has had the kindness to send these interesting papers to America and present them to the Harvard Library.
On behalf of Dr. Ephraim Emerton, Mr. John Noble communicated a Memoir of the Reverend Charles Carroll Everett, which Dr. Emerton had been requested to prepare for publication in the Transactions.
REV. CHARLES CARROLL EVERETT, LL.D.
Charles Carroll Everett, Bussey Professor of Theology and Dean of the Faculty of Divinity in Harvard University, died at Cambridge on the sixteenth of October, 1900. Dr. Everett was born in Brunswick, Maine, on the nineteenth of June, 1829. He was a descendant, on both sides, from good New England stock. His father, Ebenezer Everett, was a son of the Reverend Moses Everett of Dorchester, Massachusetts, whose brother Oliver was the father of Alexander Hill Everett and Edward Everett. Charles Carroll Everett was seventh in descent from Richard Everett, the first American ancestor, who was one of the founders of Dedham, in 1636. His mother, Joanna Batchelder Prince of Beverly, Massachusetts, was one of the first founders of Sunday Schools in America, following, in 1810, the example set shortly before by Robert Raikes in England. Moses Everett was graduated from Harvard College in 1771, and his son Ebenezer in 1806. Fourteen other related Everetts appear on the Quinquennial Catalogue before the name of our late associate.
Dr. Everett was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850. He appears on the records of the Bowdoin Medical College in the years 1851, 1853, 1854, and 1855, and he was also entered, in the year 1853, as a pupil with a practising physician in the neighborhood. During parts of 1851 and 1852 he was in Europe, and on his return was appointed tutor in modern languages at Bowdoin in 1853 and 1854. From 1853 to 1857, he served as Librarian of the College. In 1855, he was unanimously elected by the Trustees College Professor for one year, and was confirmed by the Overseers. In 1856, the Trustees elected him full Professor, but the Overseers dissented, and, though he was allowed to continue teaching through that year, a renewed election by the Trustees failed again of confirmation. This difference of opinion between the governing boards had no reference to Dr. Everett’s character or capacity; it was occasioned solely by a difference of opinion as to the proper interpretation of a Declaration, made in the year 1841, that Bowdoin College was “of the Orthodox Congregational denomination.” On the strength of this Declaration, a considerable sum of money had been procured, and the Overseers took the ground that it should be strictly interpreted in the making of permanent appointments. Dr. Everett’s father was an avowed Unitarian, and his own views were growing more decided in that direction. The result of this controversy was that Everett entered the Harvard Divinity School and was graduated there in 1859. For ten years from this time he served as pastor of the Independent Congregational (Unitarian) Church at Bangor, Maine, and this was his only pastorate.
During these years his mind had been occupied with philosophical studies, toward which he had been attracted in Europe. The first fruit was his Science of Thought.363 In this volume he undertook to present, along quite fresh and original lines, the principles of human knowledge as they were being interpreted by the new school of German thinkers. His work won wide recognition, and was the means of attracting to him the attention of the Harvard Corporation, at that moment busied with the problem of placing theological education at Cambridge on a level with the instruction in all other branches of science. He was called to the Bussey Professorship of Theology in the Harvard Divinity School in 1869 and soon organized that remarkable series of lectures on Theology which continued, down to the time of his death, the chief attraction to students of the School.
Theology, as taught by most schools, was a tolerably dry presentation of a set of dogmas, confirmed and justified by reference to some specific external authority. As taught by Everett, it became a science logically developed from the inherent religions instinct of mankind. His lectures, taken together, constituted a religions philosophy, founded upon a universal human need, wrought out with a continual appeal to common sense and experience and illustrated with convincing sagacity, that carried the hearer steadily forward to clearer and larger insight. It was the dream of his later years to work these lectures over into a final presentation in book form; but increasing infirmity caused him to postpone this work until it was too late. The only record of this great activity is to be found in the note-books of his students, from which, it is still hoped, some adequate reproduction may be made.
In 1878, Dr. Everett was made Dean of the Divinity Faculty, and assumed the functions of administration with the same fidelity which he had brought to his study and his teaching. Under his direction the School was brought more completely into the general current of university life. Its instruction was opened to competent students of other departments; its own students were encouraged to widen their preparation by a larger choice among the courses offered by outside teachers, and its requirements as to scholarship were placed upon the strict graduate basis many years before a similar requirement could be ventured upon by the schools of Law and Medicine. In all these reforms Dr. Everett was a leader. It was his pride to say that the Divinity School was always in the van of university progress. His service as Preacher to the University from 1891 to 1893 was devoted and inspiring.
Dr. Everett’s productive activity outside the lecture-room was not great in the volume of its results. It found its scope chiefly in response to some immediate call, the appearance of a new book, the ripening of some current controversy, the appeal of some urgent editorial demand. Its most characteristic expression is found in the volumes of his Essays, — Poetry, Comedy, and Duty, in 1891, and Essays Theological and Literary, mostly reprints from The New World, published in 1901. Besides these, he printed: Fichte’s Science of Knowledge in 1884, Ethics for Young People in 1891, and The Gospel of Paul in 1893.
Dr. Everett was married, on the ninth of August, 1859, to Sarah Octavia Dwinel, of Topsham, Maine, who died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the sixteenth of February, 1895. They had one daughter, Mildred.
Dr. Everett was a member of the Bowdoin chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was for many years a member of the American Oriental Society and made valuable contributions to its Journal. Though not in the technical sense of the word an Oriental scholar, his insight into the Eastern philosophies and his power of interpreting them in terms of our own thought gave him a standing among the best American scholars in this branch of learning. He was elected into the Colonial Society of Massachusetts on the nineteenth of April, 1893, and from 1896 to 1899 was a member of the Council. His contributions to our Transactions were Memoirs of Governor William Eustis Russell, in December, 1897, and of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Henry Allen, in December, 1899. Dr. Everett received the degree of S. T. D. from Bowdoin College in 1870 and from Harvard in 1874, and the degree of LL.D. from Bowdoin in 1894.
Personally, Dr. Everett was a charming companion, a devoted friend, quick to respond to every worthy sentiment, keen but charitable in his judgments. His humor pervaded every utterance, no matter how serious. His point of view was always original and always suggestive, opening out before the hearer some solution to his problems unthought of before. It is safe to say that no person of the generation now passing has had greater influence upon the educated ministry of the Liberal Church.