A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 23 February, 1905, 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 letters had been received from the Rev. James Eells and Dr. James Read Chadwick, both of Boston, accepting Resident Membership, and from the Rev. Dr. John Carroll Perkins of Portland, Maine, accepting Corresponding Membership.
President Kittredge announced the death at New York on the fourteenth instant of the Hon. James Coolidge Carter, an Honorary Member.
In the absence of Mr. John Noble, on account of illness, Mr. Henry W. Cunningham read on his behalf the following tribute to Mr. Carter’s memory:
On Tuesday, the fourteenth of February, after a brief sickness, James Coolidge Carter, one of the few Honorary Members of this Society, died at his home in New York, in his seventy-eighth year.
For years he had been the acknowledged head of the New York Bar. When the last vacancy occurred in the office of Chief-Justice of the United States, in the Administration of President Cleveland, he was said to have been the first choice of the President for the position, — the unanimous and enthusiastic choice of the Bar of New York and the Bar of New England, and a favorite in the South and in many other sections. His fitness was everywhere recognized; but an appointment was impossible by reason of controlling geographical and political considerations. Known as a lawyer and as a man, throughout the length and breadth of the land, — with an international reputation likewise, won by legal successes and successes which savored of diplomacy as well as of law, —with a life, public and private, spotless, — and with a lifelong career, not so much blazoned in ephemeral columns as written in the history of the profession and of the country, — his name is one which we may be proud to reckon on our Roll.
He was a many-sided man, — a man of varied activities and of wide interests. He was, perhaps, best and most widely known as a great lawyer. Starting in New York soon after leaving Harvard, a young man unknown and with few friends, he had to go through the usual struggle for advancement; his rise was rapid and steady, till in the course of years he stood at the head of the profession.
To touch on all the noted cases in which he was engaged would be impossible,—to name a few will indicate the character and range of his work. Among the earlier cases, many of them with Charles O’Conor, were the series growing out of the Jumel Will; later the famous litigation for the City of New York over the frauds of the Tweed Ring, resulting in a final judgment of some six millions; numerous suits in Admiralty, among them those on the interpretation of the United States Navigation Laws; cases involving the regulation of great railroads, — the Nebraska Rate Case, the Missouri Transportation Case, the Joint Traffic Transportation Case; and numerous Constitutional Cases, among them the famous Income Tax Case, and many other notable suits involving constitutional questions; to say nothing of very many important cases where merely private interests were at stake.
He had all the qualities which go to make the great lawyer, — learning broad and profound, grip of fundamental principles, power of statement, keenness of perception, commanding presence and that indefinable something which carries conviction and insures success, courage, coolness, honor, independence, aggressiveness, unerring legal instinct worth all the rest, forceful eloquence, and moral as well as intellectual strength which dominated all.
The Court Room was not his only forum. Much of his most important work was done on public Commissions. He was upon that appointed by Governor Tilden to draft a constitutional provision for the Administration of Municipal governments in the State of New York, and wrote the Commission’s Report; he was on the Constitutional Commission named by Governor Hill for framing a judicial system for the State. For several years he was the most strenuous opponent before the Governor and Legislature of the proposed enactment of a Civil Code, drawn up and urged by David Dudley Field, who found him a worthy and successful foeman. This was a subject in which he was vitally interested, and in connection with which he wrote and published much; among these addresses and monographs were the Proposed Codification of our Common Law; the Provinces of the Written and Unwritten Law; the Ideal and the Actual in the Law.
With Edward J. Phelps and Frederic R. Coudert he was appointed by President Harrison as counsel for the United States before the Bering Sea Tribunal in Paris, which adjusted the disputed question between Great Britain and the United States. The importance of the question at issue, filled as it was with dangerous possibilities; the parties, — two great powers of the world; the distinction of the opposing counsel, — Sir Charles Russell, the Attorney-General of England, Sir Richard Webster, and Mr. Christopher Robinson; the eminence of the seven arbitrators who composed the august tribunal, — the Baron Alphonse de Courcel, Senator of France, its President, John M. Harlan, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John T. Morgan of the United States Senate, the Right Honorable Lord Hannen, Lord of Appeal, and Sir John Thompson, the Minister of Justice for the Dominion of Canada, and the two named by Great Britain, — the Marquis E. Visconti Venosta, Senator of Italy, and His Excellency Mr. Gregers Gram, for Sweden and Norway; the forum, a forum of Nations; each and all made the occasion momentous. It was in the course of this historic hearing that occurred the remarkable tribute paid by the President of that high Court to Carter as he ended his long and powerful argument:
Mr. Carter, at the conclusion of this long and weighty argument, without presuming to express any opinion in reference to the merits of your case, I cannot refrain from expressing my acknowledgment of the lofty views which you have taken of the general principles involved in your subject, and which you have developed before us. You have spoken in a language well worthy of this high Court of peace between Nations.
You have spoken for mankind.
As a citizen he was alive to every public question, — he held his opinions strong and clear, — and had the courage to express them.
Aside from his professional work, his never ceasing intellectual activity is indicated by many writings upon public, political, and literary questions, and many addresses delivered before associations and universities.
Though always interested and often active in politics, he never held political office; but in public, literary, and other organizations of various kinds, he filled in the course of his life numerous official positions, and in them all made himself a power. He was President of the Bar Association of New York, which he was largely instrumental in forming; of the American Bar Association; of the Harvard Law School Association, of which he was the first incumbent of the office; of the Alumni Association of Harvard; of the Phi Beta Kappa Society; of the New York Harvard Club; of the City Club, instituted for the reform of municipal administration in New York City; and of the National Municipal League, to name no more. He was likewise a member of the Union League Club; the University Club; the Century Club; the Down Town Club; the American Museum of Natural History; the National Academy of Design; and of the New England Society in New York. He was one of the Committee of Fifteen appointed by the Chamber of Commerce to investigate vice in the Metropolis, a body whose work is well known. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an Overseer of Harvard College, from which he received the degree of LL.D. in 1885; and Yale conferred upon him the same honor in 1901.
I will not attempt to follow at any length the wide range of his interests, or dwell upon the reputation and standing which his life had so well earned, deserved, and secured.
This mere mention carries a suggestion of the activity, the energy, and the capacity which marked him in every relation of life.
In speaking of Carter’s life, one cannot leave unmentioned that friendly rivalry, that warmest of friendships, that side-by-side career, which for half a century existed between two eminent men whose names are borne upon our Roll, to the honor alike of both. I can find no more forcible rating of the one than the generous estimate of the other,82 given a few years ago: “When Carter retires he will leave room for a thousand lawyers.”
A few days ago a Baltimore journal said:
In the death of James C. Carter, the bar of New York loses its most distinguished member, and the public life of the nation one of its finest, purest, and most high-minded representatives. Mr. Carter was a man of that highest type in which one is at a loss to say whether it was in professional eminence, in useful and disinterested citizenship, or in the possession of the finest attributes of the old fashioned gentleman, that he was most notable and most to be admired. The type is a rare one.
The New York Sun reported a sermon preached in a well known church of that City on The Government’s Obligation and the Right of the People. In the preacher’s protest against the commercial and material spirit of the times, is this reference to Carter:
There died in this City last week a gentleman of the old school. I cannot let this day pass without calling attention to the death of James C. Carter, a man whom I was honored in knowing. He was a man of noble thought, deep intellect, great character, the manners of a prince and the culture and refinement of a savant. In my youth Mr. Carter was pointed out to me and it was with a thrill of pride that I noted him as he walked up the Avenue, typifying to me in his every bearing the gentleman.
I must not, however, quote unduly from the newspaper references to his death, for the opinions are concurrent, the characteristics sharply set out and the final judgment alike in all, — the recognition of the intellectual power, the dominant personality, the lofty character, the moral force, that marked the man and gave him distinctive preëminence.
It is a somewhat striking circumstance that a man of such commanding ability, of such wide and impressive influence in so many and so diverse ways, of powers so often and so publicly manifested, went through life regardless and in fact independent of newspaper fame. Sure of himself, well poised and independent, too proud or too careless to seek notoriety or to court popularity, he brought into modern life a type of the old Roman spirit. He had his ideals; their fulfilment was all he sought;’ results were his only care and ambition. He was a man of the strongest likes and dislikes, and with him friendship or love ended only with life.
It is not his professional career, or his public life, that is uppermost to-day in the thoughts of those who had known and loved him for fifty years and more. No name brings back so vividly the early days of College life,—more than half a century ago, —so revives the old class spirit and feeling — a thing unknown and impossible under the college conditions of to-day, — so awakens memories of a long ago. We recall the old-fashioned recitations, when the elective system was but in its infancy, and when all had the same work and measured themselves one with another; the declamations and sporadic lectures, — the strain of the themes and forensics; the gathering of the whole class at prayers, — irksome it may have sometimes seemed, but yet enjoyed, and with a softened haze about it as looked back upon to-day.
College interests and politics are alive again, and he a central figure in them all. We are once more in the old clubs, — the Institute of 1770; the Hasty Pudding with its goodfellowship and jollity, its ambrosial nights and its songs of fifty years ago, Carter its President and Orator, and its mysterious officer of the Cabalistic Greek, and also the occupant of another office, potent but not enrolled; the Alpha Delta Phi few in number but strong in leadership and influence; the Boat Club where he pulled stroke in the old lap-streak, the Undine, of famous history, and we kept time to his oar. We are again in the thick of the multitudinous football on the Delta, and ready as of old to answer anywhere to the rallying cry of ‘50.
Class Day comes back—with Carter as the Orator,—the prized distinction then, and not, as now, a Marshalship,—the day of days of the College life with something in it which we lack in the barbaric splendor of the present. We look back with a lingering reverence to the old Faculty, now gone every one. All that made the Harvard of yore came up whenever in after years we heard his hearty greeting and caught the smile of lip and eye, and felt the hearty grip of his hand, — and all comes back again to-day, as we reckon his name among the dead. More than all comes up that friendship and affection, which has held unchanged and changeless through the passing and estranging years, — heartier and stronger even than ever, — and an abiding possession in the veterans of ’50. He was always an intense Harvard man; he showed that feeling consistent and steady through life, and his large bequest is but an instance and a consummation of the life-long devotion.
Few will forget the impressiveness of his words when he spoke for the Class at the Commencement Dinner in Memorial Hall in 1900. That powerful statement of the results of the past through Harvard men,—the tendencies of the present, and the prospects of the future, — gathering strength upon strength as it went on and holding the host of listeners till it seemed as if the traditions of eloquence lived again, his enunciation of the duties of the hour for Harvard men, uncompromising and fearless and of matchless force,—concluding with that appeal which thrilled the audience,— was a revelation of his own ideals and an unconscious embodiment of the man himself.
His own words are its fitting expression. After a reference to the manly and courageous character of the graduates of the Class of 1850, the influence of such leaders of thought in the theological world as Dr. Andrew Preston Peabody, Dr. James Walker, the Wares, and others in the Unitarian denomination, and of other Harvard men in other fields of action, and speaking of those sons of Harvard who on either side bared their breasts to the iron hail of the Civil War, he asked:
What has become of the spirit, the philosophy, the ideals, which held such firm control at the middle of the century? Discredited at least, if not dismissed, must be our confession. And what have we in their place? Can a calm and just answer to this question avoid the admission that our society, both in thought and action, is under the control of an enormous pressure of material interests which hold in disdain any appeals to universal principles of truth and right? And these results have been reached, or are defended, not by appeals to reason, to truth, to science, or to history, but by the assertion that there are irresistible tendencies to which we must not only yield but which we must support and urge forward because they are irresistible, and those who deny their rectitude and struggle against them are stigmatized as impracticable theorists, or traitors to the interests of humanity.
Against this abandonment of reason and morals, this substitution of brute force or blind fate in the place of truth and right, I utter an humble protest. I am no devotee of the past, or believer in the finality of any past solutions of human problems, either in morals or politics. It may well be that the changes in human affairs, and especially such portentous ones as are now challenging the attention of mankind, require a revision of old theories. Nations have their duties to perform as well as individuals, which must be performed at whatever sacrifice of inconsistent opinions. This great nation of ours undoubtedly has duties to the world as well as to itself, and these must be performed even if we have to cast away the glittering generalities of the Declaration or even republican government itself.
But before we discard the long accepted teachings of the past let us be sure that they have fulfilled their function and require revision. Let them stand until new ones, reached in a reverent effort to find out what is true and right, have been ascertained and established; and, meanwhile, let the pressure of material interests, the denunciations of politicians, and the clamors of yellow journalism be set at defiance.
I appeal to you, Mr. President Eliot, and trust that you, and your successors after you, will see to it that truth, truth in science, truth in morals, truth in politics, truth, when exiled from the marketplace, the legislative hall, the pulpit, or the rostrum, shall find a refuge and a sanctuary here; here, where of old an altar was consecrated to her service, where from of old she has had her arms and her chariot; here, where her name has for centuries stood emblazoned, where a priesthood of the great and the good have for generations delivered her oracles; here let truth, liberty, and justice be held in ever-increasing honor, and assert the everlasting supremacy of the moral over the material world.83
Mr. Henry H. Edes made the following communication:
In a note in the Annals of King’s Chapel (II. 348), the Rev. Henry W. Foote quotes obituary notices of the Rev. Dr. Henry Caner from the Boston Gazette of 11 February, 1793, and the Columbian Centinel of 13 February, 1793, which state that he died at Long Ashton in Somersetshire at the age of 93. No date is given, and the Boston papers cite a recently received English newspaper as their authority for the announcement. Mr. Foote’s note continues:
I am informed by Mr. Henry O’B. O’Donoghue, of Long Ashton, near Bristol, that “there is no tombstone in the Church-yard with Dr. Caner’s name, nor any trace to be found of such a person ever having lived in the Parish.”
Mr. Foote naturally supposed that the Boston newspapers had made a typographical error as to the place of Dr. Caner’s death, since it was inconceivable that his correspondent had failed to consult the Burial Register of the Parish, with which I understood Mr. Foote to say in conversation, Mr. O’Donoghue had some official connection. Last summer Mr. Albert Matthews obtained for me in England from the Vicar of Long Ashton a certificate of the burial of Dr. Caner, but was unable to find Dr. Caner’s will. Later, I gave Mr. J. Henry Lea a commission to search for this will, and have recently received from him a copy of it, which he found in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.84 Finally, I am indebted to the Lord Mayor of Bristol for sending me a copy of an extract from the Bristol Journal of 3 November, 1792, containing a notice of Dr. Caner’s death at Long Ashton on Tuesday, 30 October, 1792. These documents follow.
Same day [30 October, 1792] died at Long Ashton, aged 93, the Rev. Henry Coner, D.D. sometime since rector of King’s Chapel at Boston, in New England; whose placid and amiable disposition endeared him to all his acquaintance, & whose useful & relative virtues, together with his work and uniform deportment through life, both public and private, adorned his character and profession as a Christian and the Divine.85
CERTIFICATE OF BURIAL.
|BURIAL in the PARISH of Long-Ashton in the County of Somerset in the year 1792|
By whom the Ceremony was performed
Henry Caner D.D.
I, Lucius H. Deering, Vicar of Long-Ashton in the County of Somerset, do hereby certify that the above is a true copy of Entry No. . . . in the Burial Register of All Saints Church, Long Ashton.
Lucius H. Deering
Witness my hand this 10th day of September 1904.
WILL OF REV; HENRY CANER DOCTOR IN DIVINITY.
Dated February 2nd 1788.
I, Henry Caner, formerly of Boston in New England, one of the United States of North America but now of the parish of Long Ashton in Somerset near the city of Bristol, Doctor in Divinity, make my last will etc:
To Patience Murrey86 formerly of Boston, but now residing in said Bristol an annuity of Twelve Pounds for life.
To William Bacon of Thavies87 Holborn in London Esquire and Robert Hollowell88 of College Street in said Bristol Esquire, all my freehold at Boston89 aforesaid with yard, garden, orchard, &c. and all residue of goods and chattels, all sums payable to me by Act of Parliament, &c. in trust under such limitation as Sarah Gore90 now residing at Long Ashton aforesaid, widow of John Gore late of Boston aforesaid, merchant, whether as sole or covert, by her deed or will shall appoint, and during her life time said Trustees shall pay her all rents profits, &c. for [? from] said real and personal estate.
I make said Trustees joint executors in trust they to reimburse themselves for all costs and charges.
George Wookey of Long Ashton
Thos: Knight of same
and Arthr: Palmer Attorney at Law, Bristol.
Proved at London 11th January 1793 before Sir William Wynne, Knight, Dr. of Law and Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, by William Bacon Esq., the surviving Executor.91
Mr. Lindsay Swift asked for information in regard to the pronunciation of Dr. Caner’s name. Mr. Edes replied that it was pronounced as if spelled “Canner,” with the accent on the first syllable.
Mr. Denison R. Slade communicated a letter written by Horatio Gates 4 April, 1776, to Henry Bromfield of Boston; the draft of a letter written by Henry Bromfield to Washington in 1776; and a letter written to Henry Bromfield by Nathanael Greene 24 January, 1778. These follow.
Cambridge Thursday morning92
His Excellency General Washington will be in Boston a little after two O Clock, in his way to Providence; he will do himself the pleasure to Eat a Snack with you before he leaves the Town. Mrs. Washington, & the Ladies, are gone by the Way of Hartford; so there will [be] only Three or four Gentlemen with the General. My respectfull Compliments wait upon Mrs. Bromfield
I am Dear Sir
Your most Obedient
(Henry Bromfield Esqr;)
Henry Bromfield Esqr
I am hond wh your Excellencies Favor of 24th June which came to Hand at a time that I was absent abroad on a Journey in the Country, [which93] this wh a great Uncertainty whether to undertake the Task assign’d me therein has been the Reason, that I have not return’d an earlier Answer. At length, however, upon the Consideration of the Delay a Refusal must occasion, & that [others94] the Excuse I might alledge in my Favor might be pleaded by others who most probably must have been in the same Situation, viz. a [total Ignorance95] unacquaintedness wh ye Value of the various Articles to be appriz’d, has determin’d me to undertake the Trouble in con Junction with Mṛ Wm. Davis Mercht. of this Town on Behalf of Capt. Manly & his Crew. We have spared no Pains to ascertain the Value of ye difft. Articles; in Order to which we have applied to all the Traders & Mechanicks most conversant therein, & have from the Information recd from them & others, most capable of giving it, endeavor’d to make an Estimation as near to Truth as might be, which however it may deviate I am conscious on my own part cannot be attributed to Intention or Neglect. & I hope will be such as to meet wh ye Approbation of your Excellency & the Honle Congress [I am96] I have ye Honor to be wh greatest Esteem & Respect97
Camp near Valley-Forge
January 24th. 1778.
This will be handed you by Abraham Lott Esquire,98 a Gentleman of fortune and family belonging to the City of New-York. I beg leave to recommend him to your particular notice, and can assure you his acquaintance is well worthy your cultivation. He lives now in New-Jersey, his politeness and hospitality has endeared him to all the Officers of the Army.
I am Sir, your most
Obedt humble Servt.
Mr: Henry Bromfield
Mṛ Henery Bromfield
Letter Valle Forge
29 Jan 1778
Mr. Slade also read a paper on a portrait of Margaret (Fayerweather) Bromfield, which he believes to be an early example of Copley, and exhibited several photographs of other family portraits and miniatures by Copley, Smibert, Denton, Stuart, and S. F. B. Morse. Mr. Slade spoke as follows:
The picture before us — that of Mrs. Margaret (Fayerweather) Bromfield — is doubtless one of Copley’s early efforts. It came into the possession of the family of our late associate Dr. Daniel D. Slade from a distant relative, Mrs. Margaret Bromfield (Pearson) Blanchard of Harvard, Massachusetts, who died 29 November, 1876. Mrs. Blanchard always referred to the picture as the work of Copley, — this, too, at a time when there was no particular interest in the fact that Copley was the artist. Copley, born 3 July, 1737, was twelve years old when Margaret Fayerweather became the wife of Henry Bromfield 17 September, 1749. Mrs. Bromfield died 3 May, 1761. Copley’s step-father, Peter Pelham, died in 1751. Wdliam H. Whitmore says:
Pelham most probably taught his step-son, Copley, the rudiments of his art, whilst his example must have been of timely service in fostering such tastes as the child may have shown. The household of Peter Pelham was, perhaps, the only place in New England where painting and engraving were the predominant pursuits.99
That Pelham and John Smibert, the artist, were associated together, not only on terms of friendship but of business, is proved by the inscription on a large engraving entitled,—
A plan of the City and Fortress of Louisbourg
with a small plan of the Harbour
P. Pelham fecit 1746
Sold by J. Smibert, Queen st.
Boston, N. E.100
What was more natural in such a small place as Boston in those days than that Copley, the boy artist, should see and be influenced by the congenial work of the two friends, Pelham and Smibert?
There are certain characteristics in the picture before us that suggest Smibert, — the small head, the stiff, wooden appearance of the figure; but then again the stronger elements of a Copley crop out, — “the rose,” the fall of lace shading the roundness and curve of the arm, the pedestal or column, the landscape background, and what is most conclusive the manner in which the rich satin of the dress is painted. By comparing the work in this particular picture with that in known portraits by Smibert, it is easy to discern the superiority of Copley’s early treatment of his special favorite details — satin and silk.
In the house of Mrs. Blanchard at Harvard, Massachusetts, was discovered a large old-growth pine plank with the inscription in old time handwriting, “For Copley’s pictor.” Whether it has anything directly to do with the portrait before us is a matter of conjecture, but it shows us that there were relations of some sort with Copley as artist.
There are in my possession several letters in which there are references to a portrait by Copley, and excerpts from these follow.
HENRY BROMFIELD TO SARAH (BROMFIELD) PEARSON.
Cheltenham (England) Feb. 19th, 1827.
. . . I do not forget that you are my oldest Sister, & except myself the only remaining Child of our Dear Maternal Parent, which has ever been held in Remembrance & had its influence upon me — till lately I did not know what was become of her Picture, & was informed, I think by young Mr Rogers [the late Henry B. Rogers of Boston] that it is in his Mother’s House, which I am at a loss to account for, but suppose it was left in Boston to avoid the injury to which it would have been exposed by a Removal to Harvard — under the circumstances attending it, I cannot Suppose Sister Rogers will feel much objection to its Removal, and when informed of its being safe in the Mansion at Harvard, I will send you the Portrait of our Dear Father101 to accompany it — if I remember right the sizes of the two are about the Same — the latter I shall send in a tin case without a frame, to be put into one after its arrival, either corresponding with the other, or into one of more modern appearance, conforming the other to it, not ostentatious but of moderate appearance . . . the great Bible which you mention was my Uncle Edward Bromfield’s . . . I wish to have [it] placed at Harvard with the Pictures of my Father and Mother. . . .
Your affectionate Brother
Mrs Sarah Pearson
SARAH (BROMFIELD) PEARSON TO HENRY BROMFIELD
Boston, 29 April 1827
[at the house of Mrs D. D. Rogers Beacon hill]
My dear brother
I thank you very much for the promise of my father’s picture. Mr H. Rogers was under a great mistake respecting my Mother’s. It has been in my possession for many years, so that you may send my father’s as soon as you please — Our Mother’s never was framed. We shall attend to your directions when it arrives. If you recollect, grandfather Bromfield’s picture which was a full length portrait, & Uncle Edward’s taken with a microscope, have been in this house ever since Mrs. Pelham’s death [29 April, 1789]. My grandfather’s was sadly abused by one of the childrens driving a stick through it & made a large rent. Since I have been here, I sent them to be hung up in the old mansion.102 Mrs P. said it should be repaired. We will see about it soon, & deposit them at Harvard. . . .
From your affectionate
Sister S. Pearson
Henry Bromfield Esq
28 Great Winchester Street London Wall
Margaret Fayerweather was the daughter of John and Jerusha (Groce) Fayerweather,103 was born in Boston 19 March, 1732, baptized a week later at the church in Brattle Square, and married Henry Bromfield of Boston, 14 September, 1749. Five children were born to them, two of whom died young. Those who grew up were Henry Bromfield of Cheltenham, England; Abigail Bromfield, who became 15 October, 1781, Mrs. Daniel Denison Rogers, whose portrait by Copley is considered one of the best of his efforts; and Sarah Bromfield, who became the wife of the Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Pearson and the mother of Mrs. Margaret Bromfield Blanchard, from whom the portrait before us came to its present owner. Mrs. Margaret (Fayerweather) Bromfield died of smallpox while on a journey at Brookfield, Massachusetts, 3 May, 1761.104
Mr. Edes communicated the following letter written by Nathaniel I. Bowditch to his brother Dr. Henry I. Bow-ditch, then in Paris, relating to the death and funeral of Dr. Spurzheim.105
Boston Nov. 16 1832 Friday eves
Dr Spurzheim died on Saturday evening Nov 10 at 5 minutes past 11 o’clock at Mrs Lekain’s106 in Pearl St. deeply regretted by his numerous friends & acquaintances in this city — On Sunday forenoon several individuals who had attended his lectures & were desirous of testifying their respect for the deceased met at his lodgings — Among them were Hon Josiah Quincy President of Harv. College Drs Beck,107 Follen108 & Barbour,109 Professors, Thos W Ward Esq110 Treasurer, and Agent of the house of Baring Brothers & Co— John Pickering Esq. author of the Greek & English lexicon — a certain person111 who is President of the American Academy & Translator of the Mecanique Celeste of La Place &c. At this meeting it was determined that there should be a public funeral on Saturday Nov 17 (tomorrow) at the principal chh in the City (the Old South) that an eulogy should be pronounced by Dr Follen — that no societies or bodies of men should be invited to be present officially but that it should be a celebration of the citizens individually to which each citizen by becoming a party would express his own sense of the loss sustained by the Community.
Mess Ward Pickering & Bowditch were also appointed a committee to take all proper measures for securing the goods & effects of Dr. S — Accordingly his collection of casts masks skulls drawings &c. and all his other property were carefully collected & transported to an apartment in the Boston Athenaeum and an Inventory was made out by Dr Bass112 the librarian, Edward Wigglesworth Esq113 & by myself. All the private papers correspondence & journal of Dr S. were selected & arranged by me — They have been seen by no one except me & I have avoided any further examination of them than was necessary, as we considered them as a record of the private views opinions & feelings of the deceased which should be sacred in the eyes of a stranger —
On Monday next according to arrangements already made Mr Ward will take out administration114 on the estate for the purpose of collecting the debts & that he may be enabled by getting the legal control of the property to remit the same to Europe — The sureties on his administration bond are father & me — The Inventory will be returned to Court under oath on Monday & the estate will be fully settled as soon as possible and without any charge or expeuse — Every one among us feels a pride & pleasure in being able in any way to express his regard & esteem for the deceased & his regret for his sudden & melancholy death. But a few months since Dr S. came among us a stranger known only by reputation — Yet in this short interval he made himself more cordial friends than many could have done in an whole life — The course of lectures in Boston was attended by a more brilliant & select company than ever before listened here to any other lecturer upon any subject whatever— Without perhaps in any instance, inspiring a full belief in his favorite theory he was admitted to possess remarkable talents for lecturing. The acute & accurate observation of nature his philanthropy & his moral philosophy were admired by all — The success [which] attended his efforts induced him to continue them too long — an unwillingness to disappoint his audience led him to the lecture room when his frame had become enfeebled and the excitement of the moment was followed by greater debility & exhaustion — He had finished his 17th lecture & but one more remained and it was not decided where it should be delivered.115 With a view to settle this point, at the end of the lecture he said “My friends where shall we next meet?” Little did the speaker or his hearers anticipate that they were never to meet again — The lecture of his own death in the midst of life was a more impressive one than any he could himself have delivered.
His death was in many of its circumstances happy & fortunate— He received the devoted attentions of two young medical friends in his last illness (Drs Grigg116 & Lewis117) There were numberless acts of kindness shewn him by others — The Community at large felt a deep interest in the subject and the highest medical talent & the warmest zeal were exerted & manifested in his behalf — He has died in the fulness of his talents & reputation leaving behind him the sincere respect esteem & regrets of all our citizens. His body, if the assent of his friends is obtained, will rest in the new Cemetery of Mount Auburn in Cambridge — and a simple granite obelisk118 will point out the interesting spot, itself a slight monument erected by the citizens of Boston to the memory of the distinguished foreigner who died among us —
Yrs. truly N. I B.—
Dr Henry I Bowditch
(care of Messrs Hottinguer & Co)
President Kittredge related from memory an amusing story about Nathaniel Bowditch and John Gummere, President of Haverford College, and has secured from Professor Francis B. Gummere, the grandson of President Gummere, the following authentic version.
After John Gummere had published his Surveying and his Astronomy, he had much correspondence with Dr. Bowditch, who warmly urged the Quaker mathematician by no means to omit a personal visit, if chance should ever bring him to Boston. This opportunity offered in time; the visitor sent up his name — pronounced as in “Montgomery” — and was duly ushered into the presence. To his great surprise, instead of cordial welcome John Gummere found a somewhat stiff gentleman who remained standing, and asked politely but coldly what was wanted. Amazed, the visitor replied that he had been urged to come. Bowditch, remembering no such name, looked incredulous. At last Gummere referred to the correspondence. “What!” cried the Navigator, “Why didn’t you say you were John Gummere?”—making the name rhyme in fact as in sound with “dear,” and, if report be true, embracing and kissing his guest. But this I refuse to believe. It would too glaringly affirm France and deny Boston.
Mr. Thomas Minns gave an account of Pearl Street and its residents between 1800 and 1850.
Mr. Clarence Winthrop Bowen of New York was elected a Corresponding Member.