A Stated Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Dr. Edward Caldwell Moore, at No. 21 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, on Monday, April 26, 1926, at eight o’clock in the evening, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, Ph.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the death, on the sixteenth of April, of Appleton Prentiss Clark Griffin, a Corresponding Member.
Mr. Allen French of Concord, and Mr. Albert Bushnell Hart of Cambridge, were elected Resident Members; and Mr. Alfred Lawrence Aiken of New York, and Mr. Marcus Wilson Jernegan Of Chicago, were elected Corresponding Members.
The President appointed the following Committees in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:
To nominate candidates for the several offices, — Messrs. Percival Merritt, Stephen Willard Phillips, and Fred Norris Robinson.
To examine the Treasurer’s accounts, — Messrs. George Pomeroy Anderson and Nathaniel Thayer Kidder.
Mr. Albert Matthews read a paper on
Not long ago my eye caught the following passage in an English publication:
Centenaries. – Someone somewhere recently made the remark that in 1875 the celebration of centenaries had not yet been thought of. Is this the case? What was the first centenary to be kept and by whom suggested?866
The remark about 1875 is, it need scarcely be pointed out, a mistake. An elaborate celebration of the Shakespeare tercentenary was held at Stratford in 1864 from April 23rd to May 4th, inclusive.867 The London Times of January 26, 1859, stated that “The Burns centenary was celebrated last night.”868 In 1839 was published in New York Thomas Jackson’s “Wesleyan Methodism a Revival of Apostolical Christianity. A Sermon preached by appointment before the Wesleyan Conference, August 5, 1839. On occasion of the celebration of the Centenary of Wesleyan Methodism.” The sermon was preached at Liverpool, and in the same year a volume by Mr. Jackson entitled The Centenary of Wesleyan Methodism was published in New York. On December 7, 1788, and in August, 1789, was held the centenary respectively of the “Shutting of the Gates” and of the “Opening of the Gates” of Londonderry, Ireland.869 In 1788 were published in London the following sermon and address:
A Sermon preached at the Old Jewry, On the Fourth of November, 1788, before the Society for Commemorating the Glorious Revolution; Being the Completion of an Hundred Years since that great Event. By Andrew Kippis, D.D. F.R.S. and S.A.870
An Oration delivered at the London Tavern, on the Fourth of November, 1788, on occasion of the Commemoration of the Revolution, And the Completion of a Century from that great Event. By Joseph Towers, LL.D. Published at the Request of the Stewards, and Committee, appointed for conducting the Commemoration of the Revolution.871
The famous Shakespeare Jubilee, as it took place in 1769, was five years too late to be regarded as a centenary. Possibly some of the events that occurred in the years 1641–1660, more particularly the execution of Charles I and the restoration of Charles II,872 were celebrated in the eighteenth century. In 1705 Sir William Dawes, later Archbishop of York, published at Cambridge —
The continued Plots and Attempts of the Romanists, against the Establish’d Church and Government of England, ever since the Reformation. A Sermon Preach’d at St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, On the Fifth of November 1705.873
Neither in the title nor in the text is it hinted that the occasion was the hundredth anniversary of the detection of the Gunpowder Plot. There is no evidence that centenaries were celebrated in England before 1788.
But it is in this country, no doubt, that centennial celebrations have been prosecuted with the greatest enthusiasm; indeed, the United States may be regarded as their peculiar home.874 Nor is this strange. The origins of towns, institutions, and families are lost in the mists of time in England; here they are known with certainty, or approximate certainty. Hence, once started, the habit of celebrating a centenary became fixed, and in time developed into almost a mania. As apparently no attempt has hitherto been made to ascertain exactly when our centennial habit started,875 a few notes on early centennials, together with a glance at some later instances, may prove of interest.
The settlement at Jamestown in 1607 was not celebrated in 1707 in Virginia, where no notice of the event was taken until 1807. Nor, apparently, did any one in Massachusetts comment in 1720 on the landing of the Pilgrims, or in 1728 on the arrival of Endecott.876 a Curiously enough the Englishman’s question, “What was the first centenary to be kept and by whom suggested?” though of course incapable of an answer as regards England, can be given a definite reply as regards this country. Our first centenary was held August 6, 1729, and was due to the zeal, enthusiasm, and long-continued efforts of the Rev. Samuel Fisk, pastor of the First Church, Salem. On November 27, 1628, he wrote in his church records:
After the public worship was ended, the Pastor stayed the brethren of the Church, and propounded to them, that they would meet publicly in this house on the 6th of August next, to give thanks to God for his great goodness in bringing our fathers hither and planting them as a Church, and continuing it till this time; on which sixth of August next one hundred years will be accomplished, and the second commence. The Church were desired to speak their mind for or against it as they inclined; but one spake who was for it, the rest were silent, whom therefore I told, I should, because it was our custom, take as consenting. I suppose they were all for it, by what I had heard, for I had propounded this matter (not only to the neighboring pastors, who much approved it, which I told this Church, but) to the people in private conversation; so that they had sure expectation of this public proposal.
And on August 3, 1729, Mr. Fisk “propounded publicly to the congregation, what the Church had agreed as above, and prayed their presence and assistance on the said day.” Finally, on August 6th he wrote:
This Church’s first century877 Jubilee.
In pursuance of the above vote of the Church, the Church and parish in considerable number (with all the neighboring pastors of this association, and some number of the neighboring congregations) met at the First Church in this Town, at eleven o’clock, A.M.878
Then follows an account of the exercises, here given from another and fuller source:
Salem, August 12.
On Wednesday the 6th of this Instant, was celebrated here, the 1st Century Lecture in the Meeting House of the 1st Church here, in Commemoration of the Good Hand of GOD in founding that Church on August 6. 1629, just 100 Years since, enlarging and making Her the Mother of several others and Preserving and Blessing Her to this Day. She was the 1st Congregational Church that was compleatly form’d and Organiz’d in the whole American Continent; which was on the Day abovemention’d; when the Rev. Mr Higginson was Ordained their Teacher and the Rev. Mr. Skelton their Pastor &c: Governour Bradforn and others, deputed from the Church of Plimouthu at their Invitation, coming into the Assembly in the Time of the Solemnity, (having been hindred by contrary Winds) gave them the Right Hand of Fellowship, wishing all Prosperity and a Blessed Success to such Good Beginnings. The Centry Lecture Began with Singing Psal. CXXII. The Rev. Mr Barnard879 of Marblehead then Prayed. We then Sang Psal. CVII. 1–8.880 The Rev. Mr. Fisk then Preach’d a very agreable Sermon, from Psal. LXXVIII. 1–7. which is earnestly desir’d and hop’d to be Printed.881 We then Sang Psal. XLIV. 1, 2, 6, 7. The Rev. Mr. Prescot882 then Prayed. We then Sang Psal. C. 1st Meter, and the Rev. Mr. Fisk Pronounc’d the Blessing. There were Thirteen Ministers present, and a considerable confluence of People both from this place and the Towns about.
N. B. Mr. Morton seems to speak of 30 Persons in the 1st Foundation: But Capt. Johnson says there were but 7.883
And how extreamly proper it is, upon the Close of the First Century of our Settlement in this chief Part of the Land, which will now within a few Weeks expire, To look back to the Beginning of this remarkable Transaction; and first Commemorate the Righteous and Signal Works of G O D towards us, both in our own Days and in the Days of our Fathers; and then consider the great & special Obligations they have laid upon us, with the Nature of our Carriage towards Him for the time past, and our Interest and Wisdom for the future.884
On August 23, 1730, the Rev. Thomas Foxcroft of Boston preached a sermon entitled —
Observations Historical and Practical on the Rise and Primitive State of New-England. With a special Reference to The Old or first gather’d Church in Boston. A Sermon preach’d to the said Congregation Aug. 23. 1730. Being the last Sabbath of the first Century since its Settlement.… Boston, N.E.… M DCC XXX.
In his election sermon on May 26, 1731, the Rev. Samuel Fisk of Salem remarked:
If I do not mistake, we are now, in the Affairs of this Day, entring on the second Century of choosing our Magistrates, within this Territory of the ancient Massachusetts. And therefore, on this Occasion, to call to mind our Fathers publick Spirit, and the good Success of it, is a proper Reverence for their Persons, Principles and Proceedings: and the just Improvement we make of it, is our strict Imitation of them.… We [the Lord’s Ministers] pray God … That this may be the happy beginning of a second Century of Elections, and that the best of Blessings may now, and ever, descend, and rest on the British Empire, and on the KING.885
In 1739 the Rev. John Callender published at Boston a pamphlet, the preface to which is dated Newport, Rhode Island, October 27, 1738, with the following title:
An Historical Discourse on the Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations in New-England in America. From the first Settlement 1638, to the End of the first Century.886
On November 23, 1738, the Rev. Samuel Dexter of Dedham preached a discourse entitled —
Our Fathers God, the Hope of Posterity. Some serious Thoughts on the Foundation, Rise and Growth Of the Settlements in New England; With a View to the Edification of the Present, and the Instruction, and Admonition of Future Generations. A Discourse Delivered at Dedham, on the Day of Publick Thanksgiving, Nov. 23. 1738. Upon the Conclusion of the first Century, since a Church of Christ was Gathered in that Place.… Boston: … 1738.887
On September 16, 1739, the Rev. John Hancock of Braintree preached two sermons entitled —
A Memorial of God’s Goodness. Being the Substance of Two Sermons, Preach’d in the first Church of Christ in Braintree, Sept. 16th. 1739. On compleating the first Century since the Gathering of it.… Boston:… 1739.
On December 25, 1791, the Rev. Jonathan Homer of Newton preached a sermon entitled —
The Succession of Generations among Mankind, Illustrated and Improved in a Sermon, Preached at Newton, on Lord’s day, Dec. 25, 1791; Being the Commencement of a new Century, from the Incorporation of said Town.… Printed at the Apollo Press, in Boston, … MDCCXCII.888
The tercentenary of the discovery of America by Columbus was celebrated in New York, Boston, and elsewhere.889 Writing to Jeremy Belknap on April 6, 1791, John Pintard, secretary of the Tammany Society, said:
Our Society proposes celebrating the completion of the third century of the discovery of America, on the 12th of October, 1792, with some peculiar mark of respect to the memory of Columbus, who is also our patron. We think besides a procession & an oration, — for we have annual orations, — of erecting a column to his memory.890
This programme was carried out, as appears from a contemporary account:
Oct. 17. Friday last, the 12th inst. being the commencement of the 4th Columbian Century, was observed as a Centuary891 Festival by the Tammany Society, and celebrated in that stile of sentiment which distinguishes this social and patriotic institution. — In the evening a monument was erected to the memory of Columbus, ornamented by transparency, with a variety of suitable devices. This beautiful exhibition was exposed for the gratification of public curiosity, some time previous to the meeting of the society. — An elegant oration was delivered by Mr. John B. Johnston,892 in which several of the principal events in the life of this remarkable man were pathetically described; and the interesting consequences to which his great atchievements had already, and must still conduct the affairs of mankind, were pointed out in a manner extremely satisfactory.893
On December 23, 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society voted “That the consideration of Mr. Belknap’s proposal for the celebration of the Centenary Anniversary of the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, on the 12th of October, 1492, be postponed to the next meeting;” and on March 30, 1792, voted “to celebrate the Centenary by a Public Discourse, and that Mr. Belknap be desired to prepare for that occasion.”894 Accordingly on October 23rd, which was wrongly supposed to be the proper date, New Style,895 the society met at the house of the Rev. Dr. Peter Thacher, transacted some business, and “then proceeded to the Meeting-house in Brattle Street, where a discourse was delivered by Rev. Dr. Jeremy Belknap upon the subject of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and service was performed, agreeably to the votes of the Society.”896 Belknap’s discourse was entitled —
A Discourse, intended to commemorate the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus; delivered at the request of the Historical Society in Massachusetts, on the 23d day of October, 1792, being the completion of the Third Century since that memorable event. To which are added, Four Dissertations, … By Jeremy Belknap, D.D.… Boston, … mdccxcii.897
In 1794 the Rev. Chandler Robbins of Plymouth published at Boston “A Century Sermon, Preached at Kingston, In the County of Plymouth, April 2d, 1794; at the special desire of Mr. Ebenezer Cobb, who, on that day, arrived to the age of One Hundred Years.”898
On December 25, 1698, there was formed at Dorchester a “Society of Young Men mutually joining together in the Service of God.” The society apparently had no distinctive name, and, though it seems to have existed for a century and a half, there appear to be no allusions to it in the histories of Dorchester.899 In 1799 the Rev. Thaddeus Mason Harris of Charlestown published there “A Discourse, Addressed to the Religious Society of Young Men in Dorchester, on the Termination of One Hundred Years from the Time of its Establishment.”
In 1800 the Rev. Dr. Peter Thacher published at Boston “A Sermon preached to the Church and Society in Brattle-Street, Boston, Dec. 29, 1799, and occasioned by the Completion of a Century from its first establishment.”
The reader has doubtless noted that thus far no celebration in Virginia has been recorded. This is because apparently none was held there until 1807, when the following pamphlet was published:
Report of the Proceedings of the late Jubilee at James-Town, in commemoration of the 13th May, the Second Centesimal Anniversary of the Settlement of Virginia; containing the order of procession, the Prayer of Bishop Madison, the Orations, the Odes and Toasts; together with the proceedings at Williamsburg on the 15th, the day when the Convention of Virginia assembled in the Old Capitol, declared her Independent and recommended a similar procedure to Congress and to the other States. Reported by the Select Committee. Petersburg: … 1807.
From this pamphlet are extracted some passages:
SEVERAL causes having lately attracted the public attention to the peninsula of James Town as containing the cradle of our nation, and as being the depositary of the bones and ashes of our venerable ancestors: The following publication appeared in the Virginia Apollo, with the view of directing the public sentiment to a regular celebration of events, equally interesting to the literary antiquities, the liberty, and character of Virginia.
“Having lately perused Burk’s History of Virginia, I discovered that on the approaching thirteenth of May, two centuries will have elapsed since the forefathers of Virginia and it may be said the founders of North America landed on the peninsula of James Town. It is impossible to contemplate this event without feelings of reverence and sublimity. Nothing in ancient story furnishes any parallel at once to the humility and the grandeur of this incident: … but who shall be able to follow the course of these striking events: yielding at length to labor, to industry, to intelligence, to patriotism, the wilderness begins to blossom as the rose: the haunts of wild beasts become the habitations of men, and instead of their howlings mingled with the yells of savages, are now heard the expositions of law, the discussion of science, and the eloquence of senates: cities rise as it were by magic; the arts and sciences encouraged by an unrestrained inquiry, extend widely their empire, whilst liberty the first and greatest of human blessings, like the key stone to an arch, gives security and permanency to those great and manifold blessings. What a scene is here for gratitude, for gratulation, and triumph; compared with an occasion like this, how sink the anniversaries of Europe. The childish and wicked incidents that gave birth to their jubilees, and their festivals, for which to deums and hosannas are sung, by a wicked mockery and prostitution of religion; … what are they when put in competition with this sublime incident, which is feebly illustrated by the ark of Noah and the bark of Deucalion; what are they to the moral formation of a world, the growth of nations, and their confederations under the auspices of liberty and philosophy: yet this day so auspicious and eventful, this day when the roads of Virginia should be trodden by the feet of pilgrims, to visit the tombs of their fathers, to celebrate the era of their national existence, when imagination ascending to the cradle, marking the first faint struggles of colonial infancy, would at every step discover new occasion for gratitude to that great being who had destined them to occupy so distinguished a station amongst the nations of the earth; this day is forgotten amidst the paltry cares and inquietudes of the world. It is not so in New England: the sagacity of that intelligent people would not permit them to omit an occasion calculated to produce such effects upon the minds and principles of their descendants: they knew that it would afford fresh oil to the lamp of their patriotism, and accordingly the era of their debarkation at Plymouth, is celebrated by annual festivals; but in the ancient dominion of Virginia, which may be called the principal fountain of American population, not the slightest notice is taken of an event in which the whole world is interested. It is time at length to put an end to this shameful apathy; the revolution of a second century since the event, affords an opportunity sufficiently splendid, and it is to be hoped, that it will be eagerly embraced by every friend to the antiquities, the literature, the independence at least of Virginia.”
A FARMER of the ancient dominion.900
The report went on to say that “the state of the public mind … was favorable to the appearance and objects of this publication, … an holy enthusiasm began to dilate and kindle amongst the people, and before intimation had been received of any concerted plan of operations, parties were forming for the purpose of celebrating the 13th of May, with the homage of unbought gratitude, the throb of heart feeling sensibility and veneration.”901 Indeed, the festivities were extended over three days. On the 13th orations were delivered by two young men, both students at William and Mary College, and two poems were read, after which “the company sat down to dinner, the Ladies in the several apartments of [a] spacious house, the Gentlemen under an immense arbour prepared for the occasion,” when fifteen toasts were drunk, and the evening ended with dancing.902 On the 14th, at a meeting of the citizens at Jamestown, the following resolutions were adopted:
- 1. Resolved, That there be a quinquennial Festival kept at James Town, at which the people of Virginia shall be invited to attend; the primary object of which Festival shall be to commemorate the event of the first settlement of this country, to invigorate Republican sentiment, and to offer up to the divine benefactor of man, that tribute of praise and thanksgiving which rational piety inforces.
- 2. Resolved, That each portion of five years be called a Virginiad.
- 3. Resolved, That the citizens of Virginia be invited to appoint Committees in the principal Towns and places, one year before the return of the next Festival at James Town, for the purpose of making the arrangements requisite at the Festival, and for attaining the objects contemplated by those patriotic meetings.
- 4. Resolved, That it be recommended to the people of this State to assemble annually on the 13th of May, in places most convenient to themselves, to celebrate the landing of their forefathers in Virginia.903
On the 15th “the pilgrims” assembled at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, “in the very room where the Declaration of Independence had been digested and drafted, by the Committee of the Convention,” and eighteen toasts were drunk.904
In 1813 the Rev. Samuel Kendall published at Cambridge “A Sermon, delivered at Weston, January 12, 1813, on the Termination of a Century since the Incorporation of the Town.” In 1814 the Rev. Luther Wright published at Dedham “A Sermon, delivered at Medway, November 4, 1813, on the Close of a Century since the Incorporation of the Town;” and the Rev. Francis Parkman published at Boston “A Survey of God’s Providence in the Establishment of the Churches of New-England. A Sermon delivered in Boston, November 27, 1814, on the completion of a Century since the Establishment of the New-North Church.” In 1815 the Rev. Manasseh Cutler published at Salem “A Century Discourse, delivered in Hamilton, on Thursday, October 27, 1814;” and the Rev. Edmund Foster published at Concord “The Works of God declared by one Generation to another. A Sermon, preached at Littleton, Dec. 4, 1815. On the completion of a Century from the Incorporation of that Town.” In 1817 an interesting tercentenary was held in New York, where the Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in that city, published –
“The Blessed Reformation.” A Sermon preached in St. Paul’s Church, in the City of New-York, On the 31st of October, 1817, on occasion of the Solemnization of the Third Centurial Jubilee in commemoration of the Reformation commenced by Dr. Martin Luther, On the 31st of October, 1517. Accompanied with an account of the solemnities and the order of divine service.
In 1818 the Rev. John Pierce published at Boston “A Discourse delivered 9 November, 1817. The Lord’s Day after the Completion of a Century from the Gathering of the Church in Brookline.” The great New England bicentennial in 1820 was extensively commemorated:
A Discourse, delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820. In Commemoration of the first Settlement of New-England. By Daniel Webster. Boston: … 1821.
The Fathers of New England. A Sermon, delivered in the Church in Essex-Street, Boston, December 22, 1820. Being the Second Centennial Celebration of the Landing of the Fathers at Plymouth. By James Sabine.… Boston: … 1821.
The Jubilee of New England. A Sermon, preached in Hadley, December 22, 1820, … being Two Centuries from that Event. By John Woodbridge, … Northampton.… 1821.
The character and sufferings of the Pilgrims. A Sermon, delivered at Pittsfield, (Mass.) December 22, 1820; being just Two Centuries from the Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. … By Heman Humphrey, … Pittsfield: … 1821.
Two Discourses, on the completion of the Second Century from the Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England at Plymouth, 22 Dec. 1620, delivered at Cambridge 24 Dec. 1820. By Abiel Holmes, … Cambridge: … 1821.
A Sermon, delivered Dec. 31, 1820. The last Lord’s Day in the Second Century since our Forefathers first settled in Plymouth. By Nathanael Emmons, D.D. Pastor of the Church in Franklin. Dedham: … 1821.
In 1821 the Rev. Henry Ware published at Boston “Two Discourses containing the History of the Old North and New Brick Churches, united as the Second Church in Boston, delivered May 20, 1821, at the completion of a Century from the dedication of the present Meeting-House in Middle Street.” In 1822 the Rev. Jacob Flint published at Boston “Two Discourses, containing the History of the Church and Society in Cohasset, delivered December 16, 1821; being the first Lord’s Day after the completion of a Century from the gathering of the Church in that place, and the ordination of the first Pastor.” In 1824 the Rev. Asa Eaton published at Boston his “Historical Account of Christ Church, Boston. A Discourse, delivered in said Church, on Sunday, December 28, 1823. By the Rector.”905 In 1825 Charles S. Daveis published at Portland, Maine, “An Address delivered on the Commemoration at Fryeburg, May 19, 1825.” This, commemorating “the First Centennial Celebration of ‘Lovel’s Fight’” (which occurred May 8, 1725), was the first centennial celebration of a battle that I have noted. In 1828 the Rev. Benjamin C. Cutler published at Cambridge “A Sermon preached in Christ Church, Quincy, on completing a Century since its Formation, on Christmas Day, 1827;” and Joseph Story published at Boston “A Discourse pronounced at the request of the Essex Historical Society, on the 18th of September, 1828, in commemoration of the first Settlement of Salem, in the State of Massachusetts.”906 In 1829 the Rev. Charles W. Upham published at Salem “Principles of Congregationalism. The Second Century Lecture of the First Church.”907
The History of the Old South Church in Boston, in Four Sermons, delivered May 9, & 16, 1830, being the First and Second Sabbaths after the Completion of a Century from the first occupancy of the present Meeting House. By Benjamin B. Wisner, … Boston: … 1830.
A Discourse delivered at Dorchester, on 17 June, 1830, To commemorate the completion of the Second Century from its Settlement by our Pilgrim Fathers. By John Pierce, D.D. Congregational Minister of Brookline. Boston: … 1830.
An Address delivered on the 28th of June, 1830, the anniversary of the Arrival of Governor Winthrop at Charlestown.908 Delivered and Published at the Request of the Charlestown Lyceum. By Edward Everett. Charlestown: … 1830.
Memorials of the First Church in Dorchester, from its Settlement in New England, to the end of the Second Century. In two Discourses, delivered July 4, 1830. By the Pastor, Thaddeus Mason Harris. Boston: … 1830.
Two Hundred Years Ago. A Sermon preached to the First Church, on the close of their second Century, 29 August, 1830. By N. L. Frothingham. Boston: … 1830.909
An Address to the Citizens of Boston, on the XVIIth of September, M DCCC XXX, the close of the Second Century from the First Settlement of the City. By Josiah Quincy, … Boston: … 1830.910
An Ode: pronounced before the Inhabitants of Boston, September the Seventeenth, 1830, at the Centennial Celebration of the Settlement of the City. By Charles Sprague. Boston: … mdcccxxx.
An Address delivered the VIII of October, MDCCCXXX, the Second Centennial Anniversary, of the Settlement of Roxbury. By H. A. S. Dearborn.… Roxbury: … MDCCCXXX.
Change, a Poem pronounced at Roxbury, … By Thomas Gray, Jr. M.D. Roxbury: … MDCCCXXX.
It has already been shown that a “century sermon” was preached April 2, 1794, “at the special desire of Mr. Ebenezer Cobb,” — not because he was a distinguished person, but merely because on that day he became a centenarian. In January, 1803, 1804, and 1805, the birthday of Benjamin Franklin was celebrated in Boston by the Boston Franklin Association,911 and so it is likely that the centennial of his birth in 1806 was also celebrated in Boston or elsewhere, but if so the fact has escaped my notice. If it was not, then doubtless as Washington was the first distinguished American to have his birthday regularly celebrated during his lifetime,912 so too was he the first to have the centennial of his birthday celebrated. No doubt this was done extensively throughout the country, but only one instance need be specified. Dr. Charles Caldwell published at Lexington, Kentucky, “A Discourse on the First Centennial Celebration of the Birth-day of Washington, delivered by request, to the Citizens of Lexington, On the 22nd of February, 1832.” In 1833 the Rev. Isaac Braman published at Haverhill “A Centennial Discourse, delivered at the Re-opening of the Congregational Meeting-House in New-Rowley, December 6, 1832.” In 1835 the Rev. Samuel M. Worcester published at Salem “A Discourse, delivered on the First Centennial Anniversary of the Tabernacle Church, Salem, Mass. April 26, 1835;” William Brigham published at Boston “An Address delivered before the Inhabitants of Grafton, on the First Centennial Anniversary of that Town, April 29, 1835;” and Ralph Waldo Emerson published at Concord “A Historical Discourse delivered before the Citizens of Concord, 12th September, 1835. On the Second Centennial Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town.” In 1836 appeared the following:
A Centennial Discourse, delivered before the Congregational Society in the Third Parish of Dedham, January 17th, 1836. By John White, … Dedham: … 1836.
Discourses comprising a History of the First Congregational Church in Providence. Delivered June 19, 1836. After the close of a Century from the Formation of the Church. By Edward B. Hall, … Providence: … 1836.
Address delivered on the Centennial Anniversary of St. John’s Lodge, No. I. At Portsmouth, N.H. June 24, 1836. By Charles W. Moore, … Boston: … 1836.913
A Centennial Discourse: delivered before the South Congregational Church and Society, in Dedham, Mass. June 26, 1836. By Calvin Durfee, … Boston: … 1836.
A Discourse delivered at Providence, August 5, 1836, in commemoration of the First Settlement of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations. Being the Second Centennial Anniversary of the Settlement of Providence. By John Pitman, … Providence: … MDCCCXXXVI.
An Historical Address, delivered before the Citizens of the Town of Dedham, on the Twenty-first of September, 1836, being the Second Centennial Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town. By Samuel F. Haven. Dedham: … 1837.
The most elaborate celebration that had thus far occurred in this country was that commemorating the bicentennial of the founding of Harvard College on September 8, 1836.914 In 1840, among others, two interesting celebrations occurred. One was at Hartford, Connecticut, on April 21:
Connecticut Historical festival. The celebration of the second centennial anniversary of the adoption of a constitution by the colony of Connecticut took place at Hartford, on the 21st instant. The oration was delivered, according to appointment, by Noah Webster, LL.D. now in the eighty-third year of his age.… The banquet which followed was partaken of by many distinguished personages.… Toasts, speeches, songs, &c. in good style, were mingled with the feast. In concluding an account of the ceremonies of the occasion, the N. Y. Commercial Advertiser says:
“But though less intellectual, perhaps, there was a brilliant affair connected with the festival, on the preceding evening, which was not less interesting, while it was appropriate and beautiful in its conception, and exceedingly picturesque in its effect. It was a fete given by the hon. Thomas Day, president of the society, and his lady, to the members of the society, the guests from abroad, and the ladies of Hartford, which was in part a masquerade — the first, doubtless, ever seen in ‘the land of steady habits.’ The masquers consisted of several gentlemen, dressed in the ancient costumes of the puritans, and twelve or fourteen young ladies, habited in the rich brocades of their grandmothers and great grandmothers, in generations that are passed. Nor were these habits fancy dresses, made up for the occasion, but real bona fide dresses of the olden time, which have been wisely and with holy reverence preserved. The thought of bringing them forth from the old oaken drawers was bright and sudden, and the part assumed were enacted to the life.”915
The other was thus described:
ANNIVERSARY OF PRINTING
By general concurrence, and without any specific authority for the selection, the 24th of June seems to have been assigned for celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the art of printing. At Leipsic, the great book mart of Europe, the day was to be ushered in with ringing of bells, … The ceremonies and festivities were to occupy three days. Similar exercises were to take place at Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, Mayence, Cologne, Weimar and other cities.
The 400th anniversary of the invention of printing was celebrated in this city, on Wednesday, by the printers, and the professors of the kindred arts and trades — the booksellers, bookbinders, type-founders, paper-makers, &c. Most of the offices, stores, warehouses and shops, devoted to these trades, were closed, and the ordinary avocations were suspended. Many of those employed in these several occupations united in a public celebration and dinner at Faneuil Hall — still more celebrated the day with their families, in other holiday amusements.916
A bibliography of American anniversary celebrations917 would doubtless fill volumes, and, if compiled, the result would hardly be worth the labor involved. Nevertheless, they are not without interest, and these rambling notes may well close with some titles selected for the light they throw on the great variety and sometimes unexpected nature of the events commemorated.
Address at a meeting of the Descendants of Richard Haven, of Lynn, at Framingham, Mass., August 29, 1844. Being the Second Centennial Anniversary of his landing in New England. By John C. Park, of Boston.… Boston: … 1844.918
A Sermon for the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the standing of the First Church in Newbury, on its present site. October 20, 1846. By Rev. Leonard Withington, … Newburyport: … 1846.
A Discourse in commemoration of the Forty-Sixth Anniversary of the Mite Society; and the Two Hundred and Fifteenth Anniversary of the First Baptist Church in America. By Henry Jackson, Pastor of Central Baptist Church, Newport, R.I. Providence: … 1854.919
Centenary of the New Jerusalem. Twelve Addresses in commemoration of the Last Judgment in the Spiritual World, 1757, delivered before the General Convention of the New Church, at the Annual Session in Cincinnati, 1857; with a sketch of the life and writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. New York: … 1859.
Memorial Volume of the Popham Celebration, August 29, 1862: commemorative of the Planting of the Popham Colony on the Peninsula of Sabino, August 19, O.S., 1607, establishing the Title of England to the Continent. Published under the direction of the Rev. Edward Ballard, … Portland: … 1863.920
The First Century of Dummer Academy. A Historical Discourse, delivered at Newbury, Byfield Parish, August, 12, 1863.… By Nehemiah Cleaveland. Boston: … 1865.
The Tercentenary Book. Commemorative of the Life and Work of John Knox, of the Huguenot Martyrs of France, and the Establishment of Presbytery in England. Containing an account of the “Tercentenary Celebration” as observed by the Presbyterians of Philadelphia, Nov. 20, 1872; … Philadelphia: … [Copyrighted 1873]
Proceedings on the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the permanent Settlement of Weymouth, with an Historical Address by Charles Francis Adams, Jr. July 4th, 1874. Boston: … 1874.921
Address delivered before the Essex Institute, October 5, 1874, at the Centennial Anniversary of the meeting of the Provincial Assembly in Salem, October 5; 1774. By Abner C. Goodell, Jr. Salem. Published for the Essex Institute. 1874.922
Memorial Services at the Centennial Anniversary of Leslie’s Expedition to Salem, Sunday, February 26, 1775, on Friday, February 26, 1875, by the City Authorities of Salem. … Salem, Mass., 1875.
Exercices at the Bi-Centennial Commemoration of the Burning of Medfield by Indians in King Philip’s War, February 21, 1876. Medfied: … 1876.
Centennial Celebration of the First Mass in Connecticut, (June, 1781.) Sunday, June 26, 1881, in St. Peter’s Church, Hartford. Hartford: … 1881.
Address at the Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of The Building of the Old Meeting-House at Hingham. On the Eight of August, 1881. By Charles Eliot Norton. Cambridge: … 1882.923
Denison Memorial: Ipswich, Mass., September 20, 1882. Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Death of Major-General Daniel Denison.… Printed by the Request of The Denison Memorial Committee.
The Oldest School in America. An Oration By Phillips Brooks, D.D. and a Poem By Robert Grant At the Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Foundation of the Boston Public Latin School, April 23, 1885 … Boston and New York … 1885
The “Chapel of Ease” and Church of Statesmen. Commemorative Services at the completion of Two Hundred and Fifty Years since the gathering of the First Church of Christ in Quincy.… 1890
Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Introduction of Printing into New York by William Bradford. Commemoration by the New York Historical Society on April 8; the Grolier Club on April 11, and a Banquet by the Printing and Allied Trades on April 12, 1893.924
Proceedings at the Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Free School at Dedham, Massachusetts, January 11, 1895. [Cut] Dedham: … 1895.
[John] Milton Tercentenary. [Massachusetts Historical Society, December 9, 1908.]925
The Centenary of the Monroe Doctrine [November 30 and December 1, 1923]926
In the early summer of 1682, John Nelson, a Boston merchant, made a voyage to Quebec. Since direct intercourse between Boston and Canada was at that time quite unusual, this fact of itself is enough to excite curiosity. Who then was John Nelson, and why did he undertake such a trip? The brief “Observations on my voyage to Canada,”927 which he jotted down some time after his return, are silent as to his purpose. They merely describe the government and economic life of Canada, giving special attention to the fur trade and its management. Other documents of the period, however, show that Nelson was on a public mission connected with the respective rights of the French and English to the Acadian fisheries, and thereby is revealed a hitherto unknown chapter in that perennial controversy.
The crux of the controversy was stated more than two centuries ago by a French governor of Acadia. “It grieves me to the heart,” he wrote, “to see Messieurs les Bastonnais enrich themselves in our domains; for the base of their commerce is the fish which they catch off our coasts, and send to all parts of the world.”928 In brief, those who chiefly profited from the fisheries were not those who exercised political control over the adjacent coasts.
John Nelson is not entirely unknown to students of New England history. He was the nephew and heir of Sir Thomas Temple, proprietor and governor of Acadia from 1656 to 1670. The nephew seems to have come to Boston shortly after his uncle’s death in 1674, perhaps to settle the estate. If he sought assets, he can have found little but a certain amount of good will, for Temple’s colonial venture had, from a financial standpoint, been a failure. He had, however, made some friends in Boston and had formed valuable commercial connections with the French of Acadia. Utilizing these advantages, such as they were, Nelson began to trade with the French inhabitants of the east country, and in a short time had amassed a considerable fortune.929 He was not prominent in public affairs; in fact he was not even a freeman. In a Puritan commonwealth he remained, according to Hutchinson,930 an Episcopalian and was of a “gay, free temper,” either one of which facts would probably have sufficed to debar him from public office. In short, he was one of a numerous class of men, prominent in the commercial life of the colony, who were excluded from public preferment by the religious temper of the ruling minority.
From these facts, and from the contents of the “Observations,” one would infer that Nelson’s voyage was made in the furtherance of his private interests. Proof that he also transacted public business is contained in a letter of Frontenac to the government of Massachusetts, written in August, 1682, not long after Nelson’s visit. In this letter Frontenac expresses regret that, having been at Montreal, he did not see Nelson, and the hope that he was sufficiently well received to come again. He adds: “the recommendations which you made to me were too considerable for to faile, and to neglect the oportunity which you offered.”931
To understand the situation in 1682, and why the government of Massachusetts was making propositions at that time to the Governor of New France, one must consider the general course of Anglo-French relations in that quarter of the world during the dozen years which had elapsed since the French regained control of Acadia.
When Temple surrendered possession to the French in 1670, Acadia contained a total population of about four hundred souls, scattered over the country from the Penobscot to Port Royal.932 During the preceding period of English rule the inhabitants had become economically dependent upon Boston. The fur trade was their chief occupation, and the proceeds of the trade they sold to Boston traders for food, clothing, hardware, and goods to sell to the Indians.933 As late as 1686 a French official described them as so infatuated with the fur trade that they raised little or no grain and did not even plant gardens.934 The fisheries were left to the exploitation of the New England fishermen upon whom Temple had levied a small license fee of so much per vessel for the privilege.935
When Acadia was restored, the French government was confronted with a system of economic relations which violated every principle of the old colonial system. In this case, however, the government allowed expediency and not principle to govern its action. The Acadians must continue, for the time being, to draw the necessities of life from Boston, and however much the French would have liked to monopolize the fisheries, it was not possible immediately to establish a flourishing fishing industry in Acadia. For the moment, therefore, it was decided to continue Temple’s system of license fees.936
Another factor in the situation was the relations of the home governments. From 1670 to 1674 England was the ally of France against the Dutch, and especially after the outbreak of war in 1672 English naval assistance was of great importance. Even when England deserted France, in 1674, the latter dared not take offence, for the French were no longer able to control the sea and feared an attack upon Canada.937 Once and again, therefore, orders were sent to the French officials in America to live at peace with the English.938
With their hands tied in this fashion, the French officials in America developed an increasing sense of irritation at the conduct of their New England neighbors. What annoyed them was the fact that despite the pursuance of a policy which they had every reason to regard as liberal, the English continued to exploit Acadia as if it still belonged to the King of England. A certain number of fishermen may have paid the license fee, but for the most part the New Englanders fished along the coast, traded with the French and Indians, and took coal from the mines of Cape Breton in entire disregard of French rules and regulations.939 When Frontenac in 1673 protested at their conduct, the government of Massachusetts replied indifferently that the laws of the place where the offence was committed should be sufficient security, thus plainly intimating that the French might enforce their regulations if they could.940
Moreover, in 1674, a certain Boston sea captain joined with a Dutch privateer in a raid upon Acadia, which resulted in the capture of all the French forts from the Penobscot to St. Johns. The French governor of Acadia was carried a prisoner to Boston, and the plunder of the French forts was sold there. Frontenac believed that the New Englanders had instigated the attack to weaken the French and sent a sharp letter of protest to the Massachusetts government.941
This interloping trade, as he called it, between Boston and Acadia was known to Edward Randolph, who reported it to the Lords of Trade in 1676 as one more instance of the lawless habits of the traders of Massachusetts.942 He also reported that the government of Massachusetts felt a perfect hatred toward the French, believing that they had had a hand in the Indian war. Perhaps Randolph exaggerated. At any rate, four years later Governor Bradstreet reported that the French of Nova Scotia were “but few and weake; wee keepe freindship with them and those at Canada.” He added, however, that the French troubled the fishermen by requiring the payment of a license fee.943
Substantially, then, the situation in 1682, when Nelson made his voyage to Quebec, was unaltered. Acadia, as described by the Governor and Intendant of New France in letters written the preceding autumn, was still sparsely populated, poverty-stricken, torn by feuds, and economically dependent upon the English, who were coming and going to trade and fish as they pleased.944 At the same time that he was describing the situation to the king, Frontenac wrote another letter of protest to the government of Massachusetts, which was to be backed up by a personal visit to Boston by La Vallière, the Governor of Acadia.945 It is quite possible that to this letter, and to the visit of La Vallière, if it occurred, may be ascribed the origin of Nelson’s voyage to Canada.
It is now possible to consider the question as to the nature of the propositions which Nelson bore to Frontenac, and to raise the further question why the government of Massachusetts should at this time have adopted such a conciliatory attitude. The direct evidence bearing upon these questions is very scanty.
In June, 1682, just about the time Nelson was starting for Quebec, Randolph wrote to the Commissioners of Customs that the Governor desired to know whether ships from Nova Scotia, manned by Frenchmen, could trade at Boston.946 This may, or may not, have some bearing upon Nelson’s mission.
In October, 1682, the Massachusetts General Court so far took cognizance of the complaints of Frontenac about irregularities in trading, fishing, and getting coal within the territories of the French king as to declare its disapproval of such practices and to warn persons so offending that they would be liable to the penalties provided for by the laws of the places where such offences were committed.947
More illuminating still is a third bit of evidence. It consists of an order by La Vallière, the Governor of Acadia, dated October 22, 1682, and issued pursuant to an order of Frontenac, that the English might fish on the Acadian coast on payment of a tax, and that they might secure licenses from Mr. Nelson of Boston.948 It may be added that Frontenac’s successor, La Barre, sanctioned the continuance of this arrangement.949
One hesitates to draw definite conclusions from such scanty evidence, but it is clear that Massachusetts was seeking a friendly understanding with the French. In the language of diplomacy there was to be a détente. Massachusetts would at least submit to the system of licensing for the privilege of fishing on the Acadian coast and would frown officially upon the wanton disregard by her inhabitants of French rights. Whether some sort of commercial reciprocity was proposed, one may only conjecture.
Such a manifest change of attitude on the part of Massachusetts demands explanation, and the answer is probably to be found in circumstances which had no immediate connection with the relations of that colony to the French. It was at this time that the controversy with the English government was reaching an acute stage. In October, 1681, the colony had received a stiff letter from the King threatening the issue of a quo warranto against the charter if the colony did not comply with his demands. The game of evasion and delay was evidently about played out. The General Court at a special session held in February, 1682, had made large concessions, and in response to repeated demands by the king had chosen agents to go to England to answer the royal charges.950
In view of this situation it was the part of wisdom for the Massachusetts government to conciliate the French. Statesmanship required that there be but one enemy at a time. The possibility that too great pressure might drive the colony into the arms of the French had evidently occurred to Randolph, for he took pains in April, 1681, to assure the English government that there was no danger. “They have soe great a peique against them,” he wrote, “that they want onely an opportunity to dispossesse them in Nova Scotia Canada & Newfound Land.”951 Randolph was doubtless right in feeling that union against England was unthinkable, but a temporary understanding was another matter. That the rulers of Massachusetts saw the desirability of such an understanding and took steps to bring it about is but one more proof of the ability with which the affairs of the colony were conducted at this time. Their choice of Nelson for so delicate a mission is further proof that to get the best man they were willing to overlook his attitude toward religion. Nelson might be an Episcopalian, but no other man in the colony enjoyed such friendly relations with the French.
As for the French, the most probable explanation of the unusual friendliness with which they received these advances is that they too were involved in a conflict which made it advisable for them to rid themselves of one potential enemy. In their case the conflict was with the Iroquois Confederation, which in 1681 had begun a series of raids on the western allies of the French. Behind the Iroquois, instigating their attacks, the French thought they saw the fur traders of Albany and the government of New York. A struggle for the control of the western fur trade, on which depended the very existence of New France, seemed to be at hand. What was more natural than to arrange a modus vivendi with New England, which would at least maintain the status quo in Acadia, while New France gave its whole strength to the all-important conflict in the West?
This is perhaps all that Frontenac intended. His weaker successor, La Barre, in 1684, on the eve of his expedition against the Iroquois, actually invited the Boston government to give him their assistance.952 One recalls the attempt of the French in 1651 to barter commercial privileges for an alliance against these same Iroquois.953 In this case, however, the privileges had been granted, and La Barre had nothing to bargain with.
Unfortunately this Anglo-French entente in America was of short duration. Its rupture was due to the action of the French government. The situation which obtained during the controversies of the late nineteenth century was thus reversed. At that time the principal obstacle to a peaceful settlement lay in the inflamed state of feeling of the fishing interests of New England and Canada. The governments at Washington and London were disposed to be conciliatory. In the seventeenth century the local authorities in America had actually reached an agreement, which was upset by the action of the French government.
The real beginning of the fisheries controversy dates not from the beginnings of the industry, as is sometimes supposed, but from the seizure, in 1684, by a certain Berger, who was acting Governor of Acadia, and who held a concession from the French government for the establishment of a fishing industry in Acadia, of eight New England fishing vessels.954 This was but part of that aggressive policy, adopted by the French court in the eighties of the seventeenth century, of monopolizing all the resources of the vast areas claimed by the French crown in America, and of excluding the English from all intercourse with the French colonies and the Indian tribes who were claimed as subjects or allies. It was this challenge to the fishing and trading interests of New England, and to the fur trade interests of New York, which accounts for the hostility of the northern colonies towards the French. It was not because England and France were at war that they fought the French, it was to protect their own interests. Whether or not the colonial wars were inevitable is a question not to be answered here, but had there been adopted the policy which Nelson represented, and which in 1682 gained at least a momentary triumph, their outbreak might have been long delayed.
Observations on my Voyage to Canada made in July 1682
Wee sailed from Boston in June and in the middle of the same month arrived at the Gulfe of Canceau, where meeting ffrench Ships by their advice wee went through and so saved about 70 or 80 Leagues Passage about Cape Britton ffrom this Gulf wee by our Chart sailed for Cape Gaspa about 80 or 90 Leagues distant from Canceau and in three days made Isle Peirce Bonaventure and the Cape lying in about 50 degr Northern Lat, from wch being the enterance of the generall fflood of St. Lawrence, wee sailed N. N. West till wee were to the Northwards of 52: where wee mett a ffrench ship whose Company wee designed to keep up the River to Quebec, but by ffoggs, ill weather and better sailing wee soon lost her and forced to seek out our own way, wee mett contrary winds, were about 14 dayes before wee made Land on both Sides, wch was very mountanous and att great distance ouer course being S. W. and the wind reigning that way, wee were forced to turn itt up and burrowing in a ffogg very near the North West side wee spyed a house, from whence came off in an Indian Birch Canou 2 ffrench men, 2 Indians & a ffather Jesuit, by whom wee were informed that the House was no continuall habitation but a Trading Place att appointed Seasons with the Natives, and that wee were 30 Leagues from the Great River of Sagane and warned us of the danger of shoales and Tides wch from that place they are very violent. From this wee were 14 dayes in generall vigilance and carefullness both by use of Lead and good looking out before wee came to Quebec, where when arrived, wee were entertained with all imaginable Civility both by the Major of the Place who officiated in place of the Earl of Frontenac he being absent at a Town called Monreall about 60 Leagues higher, as also by the Intendant and Bishops, Superiour of the Jesuits, Recolles &c. who assisted me in all our Curiosities, either of their particular houses or the place in wch thô the Town be small about 400 houses whose buildings most part stone and indifferent regular, the Magnificence of their Churches, Bishops Pallace and religious houses (of wch there are five) I most admired being both by Structure and design equall to most in Europe, and whose Revenues are not inconsiderable arising both from the place and from ffrance The Place is ruled by a govr and Intendant from the King and Councill; upon the place of wch the Bishop is alwayes one. The People have accomodated themselves to the hardships of the place, thô vastly cold, wild and desert; and are become as expert in hunting as the Natiues, whereby great numbers get their Livelyhoods; others apply themselves to Husbandry with reasonable good Success, the Ground being sufficiently fertile. The most and greatest profitts of the Place arises from the Trade with the Natives wch is so considerable as to be computed at about 200000ł per ann; which Trade thô free for every Inhabitant yet at last falls into the hands of a Company wch farms itt of the King, and payes the govr’s Pencon of about 35000 Livres ꝑ ann, and the Intendants Pention 12000ł the Councill have each 300łi ꝑ ann there is also 2 other subordinate govermts the one is Monreall and the other the 3 Rivers, both which have Pencõns. The Company draws ¼ pt of all beaver and 3ł i upon a ħħ Brandy 40 sħ ħds wine, 6d ꝑ ł tobacco all other things free. ffrom the ffrench hunters, of wch there are alwayes good numbers, arises a double benefit both of profitt and security, thereby being capable of encountring ye Natives in their own Stratagems and hardships, both wch they are often forced to use in their own defence, notwithstanding the endeavors that the Jesuits dayly make to reduce them to their faith by sending out supplying and continuing Missionaries in severall posts wch hitherto hath taken no great effect. Thes[e] Countries are prodigiously full of Lakes, Rivers &c: and tho[se] of vast Magnitudes; some Lakes being reported to be 3 & 400 Leagues about, all ffresh water; the main River is peopled from ye Isle of Orleance upwards 150 Leagues; and from ye mouth of the River called Cape Caspe Ships may sail abt 200 Leagues. Quebec is seated advantagiously and pleasantly and is 120 Leagues in ye River. The most pt of ye town burnt while I was there, wch will not soon be repaired; the number of ye Inhabitants [by] Computation in ye whole R is about 8 or 10000 families but greatly scattered. This being the sundry Collections of my memory I hope you will perdon ye rudeness of their Composure, wch if any wayes usefull to you, will sufficiently answer ye designes of Sr
Your humble servt
Montreall the 2d August: 1682955
If mr De Lauallier had rendred to you the letters that I had the honor to write to you, & to the gentlemen of the soueraigne Councill of Boston the Last Autumne, you would haue knowne that I haue allwaies made it my care to make the french of ye costes of Lacadie, obserue the treaty of Bredah, which ought to be the rule of commerce of those of yr Gouerment, with them; to the intent of Entertaining by good union the corespondence that the Kings ower Masters desier should be between them. You would haue allsoe seen the Complaintes that I made to You, upon the Contrauentions, which hath proceeded from your Side and which I can not cleare with mr Nelson as you had impowered him, because of my absence from Quebeck, when he ariued, & that he can not resolue to find me in a canou att Monreall, not withstanding it would not haue requiered above 10 or 12 dayes for to make the voiadge if he take not this resolution, to which I would not Constrain him. I shall tell you sr for answer to yr Letter of the 8 of June, which I recd the first of August; That the English did neuer come as you Instance to fish or to take coales upon ower costes in the time of mrs D’aulney and Latoure & Grand fountaine with out theire permision and agreament with them for what Each Vesell ought to [blurred] Licence & in which I haue more subject to Complaine since they not onely [illegible] vesells from Boston to the fishing and Coales which are found in the mines Belonging to perticular persons with out any agreament of acknowledgment for to haue the Licence Butt more from this that under pretext of this fishing they make theire trade of peltry with the indians which was neuer permitted & is contrarie to ye treaty of Bredah, & more against the right of nations the rules of the Sea & what is practised between Princes allied & united as are the Kings ower Masters, they haue come to Cape Briton & taken Goods of the ship Joseph belonging to the farmers of his Most Christian Majesty, & which hath bin car[ried to?] Boston. As I hope that you will giue orders to [illegible] make upon it Such reparations as I [illegible] & Comity demands.
Monsieur de Laualliere hath allsoe charge to agrea with those of yr Gouerment which would come on fishing and Coales, the Condition upon which shall be accorded to them the sd permissions They will haue Nothing more to doe but to adress themselves to him being sure that they will find him soe reasonable, that for A smale thing from theire side, the comerce will be hence forward Very peasable & without any Complaint on the one part or the other. I wish that mr Nelson may haue found incouragement Enough from this place of Quebec for to Obleidge him to returne, If I had bin present I should haue found more place to haue favored him the recomendations which you made to me were too Considerable for to faile, & for to neglect the oportunity which you offered, to giue you to know the Esteeme that I haue for you and the Sincerity with which I am
translated out of ffrench
Sir Your Most humble and Most Obeidiant Serviture
Mr. Alfred Johnson then read several letters written by Lord Bryce to him, in regard to the hundredth anniversary of the separation of Maine from Massachusetts and the three hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims.
Mr. William C. Lane exhibited a copy of John Baret’s “Alvearie or Quadruple Dictionarie … English, Latine, Greeke, and French,” published in 1580. The book has special interest since it contains in several places the autograph of Matthew Day, probably the Matthew Day who was the first printer in Cambridge. Mr. Lane said that there was every reason to suppose that the book belonged to Day, and was in common use in one of the earliest and most important of American printing offices.
Mr. Samuel E. Morison read
These amusing notes on the manners and customs of our capital in 1819, were compiled by Charles Bagot, British minister at Washington, in answer to a many-headed inquiry from his successor, Stratford Canning, the nature of which may easily be inferred from the answers. Canning, at the end of his stay (1825), added brief comments signed with his initials, and passed the document on to his successor, Charles Richard Vaughan. A contemporary copy is now among the Vaughan Manuscripts at All Souls’ College, Oxford, the governing body of which has kindly accorded us permission to print.
Charles Bagot belonged to the intimate circle of George Canning, who warned him upon his appointment to the Washington legation in 1816, “The hardest lesson a British minister has to learn in America is not what to do, but what to bear.”956 Bagot nevertheless persisted in liking the Americans, and making them like him, to such good purpose that he became the most popular of the diplomatic corps. His policy reflected that of England’s great foreign minister, Lord Castlereagh, who instructed him “to smooth all asperities between the two nations, and to unite them in sentiments of good will as well as of substantial interest, with each other.”957
On Bagot’s taking leave in 1819, John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary:
Mr. Bagot is a younger brother of Lord Bagot, a Peer of Great Britain; and his wife, a very discreet, amiable, and lovely woman, is daughter of Mr. William Wellesley Pole, Master of the Mint, and brother to the Duke of Wellington. Bagot is about thirty-five, tall, well proportioned, and with a remarkably handsome face; perfectly well-bred, and of dignified and gentlemanly deportment. The principal feature of his character is discretion, one of the most indispensable qualities of a good negotiator; but neither his intellectual powers nor his acquisitions are in any degree striking. His temper is serious, but cheerful. He has no depth of dissimulation, though enough to suppress his feelings when it is for his interest to conceal them. He has resided here three years, and, though coming immediately after a war in which the national feelings here were highly exasperated against his country, has made himself universally acceptable. No English Minister has ever been so popular; and the mediocrity of his talents has been one of the principal causes of his success. This is so obvious that it has staggered my belief in the universality of the maxim that men of the greatest talents ought to be sought out for diplomatic missions. Bagot has been a better Minister than a much abler man would have been: better for the interest of England — better for the tranquillity of this country — better for the harmony between the two nations, for his own quiet, and for the comfort of those with whom he has had official intercourse here. For a negotiation that would require great energy of mind, activity of research, or fertility of expedients, such a man would not be competent; but to go through the ordinary routine of business and the common intercourse of society, to neutralize fretful passions and soothe prejudices a man of good breeding, inoffensive manners, and courteous deportment is nearer to the true diplomatic standard than one with the genius of Shakspeare, the learning of Bentley, the philosophical penetration of Berkeley, or the wit of Swift.958
Point is given to these remarks by the brief American career of Stratford Canning — a much more talented and distinguished diplomatist than the easy-going Bagot, but too imperious for the somewhat touchy Americans of that period, and too quick on the trigger to get along with the sharp-tempered Adams. According to Canning, Bagot’s only shortcoming was his failure to travel — possibly he was unable to get beyond the hospitable halls of the Carrolls of Carrollton, with whom he was connected by marriage. Stratford Canning accordingly went on a tour through the Eastern part of the United States; an example which was followed by his successor, Charles Vaughan.959
Sir C. Bagot’s Memorandum for Outfit to America with Sir S. Canning’s Notes
Wood is the fuel generally used in Washington, and you can buy in every town handsome brass chenets, but you will prefer burning coal in some of your rooms, and therefore I should say in answer to your Quere No. 2:
Have your grates from England but I should recommend you not to take them out with you, as the winter will be over when you arrive at Washington, and you can then see your fireplaces, decide upon the rooms in which you would like to have coal grates, send the exact measure of your fireplaces to England, & have grates sent out, & put up long before you can want them next year. You will be glad to have a stove in the centre of your house, but I doubt whether you could get an English, Russian or Swedish stove, well put up by any person in America and, as much depends upon that, you had I think better trust to such stoves as you will find in the country.
Remember to give the V. Consul at Alexandria, or Norfolk, directions to buy for you during the Summer a stock of Kennel (I do not know how to spell it) coal. It is occasionally brought from Liverpool as ballast, is sold as cheap as Virginian coal, and is of the greatest comfort & cheerfulness. The Virginian coal is good enough for ordinary purposes. — (I burned wood throughout. S. C.)
3. I did not take out a kitchen range, but your cook will be pleased that you should & I think that I would recommend you to do so. Large coppers and ovens you can have put up sufficiently well by Washington artists, but you should take a moderate batterie de cuisine, which is always worth its weight; and which you can get tinned as often as may be required by a rascally old German in Washington who will cheat you horribly toties quoties. Fail not to take a smoke Jack. I could not get one in all North America. I passed my whole time without one to my daily sorrow.
4. You need not take out a laundry maid, they wash by machines in America which wear out your linen very soon, but it looks very well. You will probably do as we did viz. contract with some woman to wash all the linen at so much per month. I used to regret on account of the appearance of my table linen that I had no mangle — they know of no such instrument & it might be worth your while to take out one of those small portable mangles which are sold in a shop in Oxford St., I think near the top of Bond Street. (Very useful. S. C.)
6. The dining room at Onis’s house (and I think that that is the house which you will have) (This was the house I had. S. C.) is (I also think) about 40 feet long and of a handsome width with a fire place at each end but it is miserably low.960
7. If you have Onis’s house you might dine between 30 & 40 people, but dinners of that size are inconvenient and I doubt whether they would be popular. In making preparations of all sorts for your table I would contemplate 24 persons as the outside. (This I did and found it answer. S. C.)
8. This is a large question. Suppers you will never give excepting on occasion of a great ball (not a little dance, for that is always a sideboard affair) (I advise no suppers whatever. S. C.) but I should recommend you to be prepared in this manner (as I was) viz: Take out a double service of Staffordshire ware, with its dishes, tureens, etc. etc. with a neat border or ornament to it. This will serve for the use of your household, and will look uniform and well. (All this I did and used them once. S. C.) When you give a ball I would recommend you, upon the same principle, to take out a number of well made white handled knives and three pronged steel forks with your crest upon them. You will find them come into play just as the Straffordshire ware does.961
When you order your stock of glass for your table (which you must do) order also a certain number (by the bye upon all questions of quantities you would do well to apply to my steward Calder who was with me in America and who is always to be found at 10 Wimpole Street) order I say, a certain number of ice, negus & lemonade glasses. These with tea cups, coffee cups and wine glasses (for they hand Madeira round at all parties) furnish all the materiel for your conversaziones.
9. The Americans are great whist players & will much thank you if at your parties you give them a separate quiet room in which they can play deep. Take out counters if you please, but no cards, use theirs & thus avoid bad jokes about the crown on the Ace of Spades, etc, etc.
10. You had better take out some lamps, especially some of these sort of shaped ones which you can move about and place on furniture but you; can get both oil and wax candles, tolerably good at Philadelphia.
11. The Americans drink scarcely any other wine than Madeira and they give you in their own houses much better than you can hope to give them. They all import their own wine & keep it with great care consequently it is hardly ever to be bought. If you can persuade your Captain to touch at Madeira962 (which would break your voyage & show you the most curious island on the globe) you can take in your wine from thence and I should recommend you to take in at least two pipes of Medeira and two quarter casks of Malmsey Do. If the Captains stowage, & the bankers book, admit of your taking in more, do so by all means; and desire the Merchant to send you two pipes every year. You may thus be in possession when you leave the Country of two or more such pipes of Madeira as you can never expect to have upon any other terms. Malmsey Madeira is the finest of all desert wines and keeps for ever but take out some pint bottles to bottle it in. It is a singular thing that there is no such thing as a pint bottle in the U. States, at least none are to be bought there. You will be much judged of by your Champagne & the Americans prefer the sweet & sparkling. I think a dinner or supper is prized and talked of exactly in proportion to the quantity of Champagne given and the noise it makes in uncorking! You will want other French wines such as Sauterne, Grave, etc. etc. but they drink but little of them. I would give a commission in Paris for all these and have them shipped at Havre to the care of any of our Consuls at any of the Ports north of Norfolk but never have anything sent to Charleston or the Southern Ports. You can buy Claret cheap in America, but it is not good. I had my claret from England being satisfied that the English Merchants have the monopoly of all the best, but if you do not subscribe to this doctrine, have it sent from Bourdeaux in cases. You should start with a stock about equivalent to two hogsheads. Take English Porter & English or Scotch Ale. (Mine always turned sour. S. C.) They like it beyond everything; Have it made on purpose for you, & for exportation. Liqueurs are not much drunk. Those of the W. Indies you can get there, but you may take a little bounce for your own comfort.
12. I had at first great difficulty about drink for my English servants — but it ended in my having a strong half ale half porter stuff brewed at Washington (I did the same. S. C.) which they drank like dragons & was an article of heavy expense, but (as you will find at every turn) they must be kept comfortable and in good humour upon almost any terms. (Quite true, S. C.) You had better have a word with Calder upon this subject.
13. I intended to have taken out a confiturier, but I was afterwards very glad that I did not. My cook who is still at Washington did everything in that department which was wanted for the dinner table, as, no doubt your cook will be able to do, and there is nothing else required beyond what your housekeeper (for housekeeper you must have) can do. (I had none, but missed her. S. C.) If she can make ices (My cook did this, S. C.) it will be a convenience to you but if she cannot, there are plenty of people in Washington who can.
14. I had no ornamental furniture and the French Minister swaggered over me in that respect, but it is not necessary and the utmost that I would do, would be to send a couple of French clocks and perhaps a couple of sets of chimney piece ornaments. If upon seeing your house you find a place which cries out for a large looking glass you may always have one sent from France, but I certainly would not send out anything of the kind in the first instance.
15. To the best of my recollection the American mantlepieces are invariably very shallow and will not admit of large lights. — The ceilings of the two great rooms in Onis’s house are so low that I do not think that they would admit of lustres from the ceilings (Yes they do, S. C.) & it will be a very difficult job to light them well. I believe your best mode of lighting it would be by patent lamps put upon tripods or things of this shape and it would perhaps answer to you to have a dozen such things made in England gilt and smart and with patent lamps to place upon them. They would always come into play in different parts of the house.
16. It is nearly impossible to answer this question. — Unless you have exact measurements of particular rooms it is not practicable to furnish all or any of them from hence. (The measurements of the house I occupied are marked on the plan. S. C.) There are in Onis’s house on the ground floor, a smallish room to the street, in which he dined small companies, a billiard room (take out a billiard table) (I did not, S. C.) and the large dining room. Up stairs there are three corresponding rooms, in the two smaller of which he usually received, & only opened the large drawing room which is over the dining room on great occasions. You can find place and use for plenty of easy chairs both leather and covered with linens, for couches, card tables, work tables, tea tables, fire screens, &c. They will be of use in whatever house you may get as (which answers your question 17) A Washington house is pretty much in its plan like a London House excepting that the offices are never under the house.
18. I should recommend you to have your best furniture, your tables for instance, of mahogany, and of rose or other woods, but the lighter chairs & lighter furniture may be stained black (not painted) & made smart with brass. They will last your time and be always disposable provided they are a little fantastic in their shape & you swear that they are de la dernière mode.
19. Yes everything of that kind is as we have it in England. You will see occasionally French silks used in American houses for the furniture, and I believe that it may be imported from France nearly as cheap as our fine printed furniture cottons, and it is so much handsomer that it may be worth while to send from France silk enough to make curtains for eight windows. I do not think it would be necessary to have chair and couch covers to match, as our printed cottons suit with anything; nor can you have them safely sent out readymade, but if they are made in the present manner viz: without any drapery but to run with large brass rings upon a large brass rod, you will find plenty of people at Washington who under your directions could cut them out & put them up, but you should have the rods, rings, & gimp fringe sent out with them.
20. You will do well to have whatever you can, made up in England, but unless you have the measures of your windows & your floors you cannot venture to have your curtains or carpets made. You will however recollect that in Summer you can dispense both with curtains and carpets, that you will not have occasion nor be expected to open your house next summer & that you will have full time to send to Europe for these things made to measure & order.
21. O Yes, an American carpenter can make you a sufficiently good set of book shelves either in mahogany or painted deal. The only danger is that they will use green wood unless you take great care. A propos. You will find it very convenient to take out half a dozen or perhaps more, Brahma locks to put to furniture in your own rooms.
22. I would recommend you to take out blankets, coverlids, & sheeting for all your beds, because you can get them better here and cheaper & you will perhaps be more comfortable if you take out the bedding (mattresses, feather bed & pillows) of your own bed, but you can get bedding for the other beds which will do very well, and they are very bulky things to take from hence. You may also like to send out your own bedstead (and indeed you had perhaps better do so) but you need not do more. I took out a great quantity of mosquito netting, but I never had occasion to use mosquito curtains. You may as well take out a piece or two, to make blinds with, which you may put against the windows when they are open in Summer evenings and you have a light in the room. They serve to keep out the myriads of bats, beetles, and devils, which then assail you.
23. Do not be persuaded to paper any of your bedrooms. It is quite necessary for health, cleanliness, and coolness that they should be plain white washed walls. Your other rooms will be papered and you will produce a great effect by taking out some pretty, and new English papers. You can get French papers in America but there is no variety in them & they are very dear.
I think you will find comfort in a gig, and let it be such a one as will carry your servant and your clothes for a night or two. You should take a coachman, and all saddlery, harness, and whatever belongs to a stable except the mere mops, buckets, and lanterns, and horse medicines which you can get (tho’ not good) in America. Give your cook a hint to take out a stock of mustards, pickles, fish sauces Macaroni vermicelli & generally whatever else of that kind he would require from the oilman. I think you should also take a small stock of good common medicines such as calomel, James’s powder, &c, &c, &c, and above all things take out some Huxham’s tincture of bark as well as gross bark. If you can get a clean, ugly and monarchical housemaid, and also a kitchen maid, you will find them of infinite value to you. Your great difficulty will be to keep your servants, but you must have some English ones such for example as the coachman, groom, under butler, and one footman and they had better be all English if you think you can preserve them. I took out a Maitre d’hotel, a French cook, and an under do. a Valet, three footmen, coachman, groom, two housemaids (the ugliest I could find) and at Washington I hired two or three black servants to assist. I allowed them additional wages during the time they were abroad and found that by making some sacrifices of expense for their comfort they were induced to behave well. The chapter of servants is a very important one in America.
Stratford Canning took two secretaries, eleven servants, including a French cook, and seventy tons measurement of baggage, including a cabriolet, to America. It took four days to load his baggage on the vessel. In 1821 he writes his sister, “My servants have behaved uniformly well, and the accomplishment of chewing tobacco has not yet been fatal to my carpets.”963