LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
JOHN T. KIRKLAND
JOSEPH E. WORCESTER
THEODORE D. WELD
ROBERT RANTOUL, JR.
WILLIAM F. STEARNS
NATHANIEL P. WILLIS
THE most valuable asset of which any institution can justly boast is a rich heritage from the past. It is not uncommon to speak of the atmosphere of a school or college; and that indefinable thing we call "atmosphere" is not created by the material things that the eye can record, but is the result of those intangible influences that have worked quietly but steadily during the passing years and that have been contributed by men and women who have seen visions and have dreamed dreams and have testified to their faith in those visions and their hope in those dreams by the character of their lives and the serviceableness of their work. Buildings and grounds may and often do embody the spirit of these influences; but the influences none the less are intangible and find their source in the personalities of those who as builders, as teachers, as scholars, and as friends have added their mites and left their impress for the benefit of posterity.
Nowhere more than among the schools and universities of the Old World does one sense the presence of "atmosphere." Moss-covered walls reflect in their very tints an ancient past, while the worn stones of steps trodden by the passing generations of youth whisper of care-free undergraduate days and of achievement and renown in later years. The stalwart figures of the past, imposing masters, kindly teachers, and scholars destined to make their names known around the world seem almost to live again as one lets one's thoughts drift back through the centuries that have mellowed these ancient halls of learning.
America is, of course, still too young a country to have developed such an atmosphere about its institutions of learning as that which pervades the older schools and universities abroad. And yet among America's oldest institutions the halo of age is at least beginning to shed its mellowing light and the traditions of an illustrious past are exerting their subtle and inspiring influence. Especially is this true of our oldest colleges and universities.
School systems and school conditions in the United States have undergone constant and marked changes since the founding of the nation, and this has served to break traditions and mar the development in most of our American schools of that type of atmosphere to which reference has been made. The local academy has been largely swallowed up in the public high school or, in some cases, has become the foundation on which a modern university has been reared. Many, and chiefly those with definite sectarian limitations, have disappeared. Still others, seemingly successful at the start, found the competition with the newer and vigorous high schools too severe and were only saved from complete extinction by drastic reorganization which left them with little of their original character. In those early years when the fever of education among our fathers was at its height few schools were founded that could be said to have had a distinctly national character and aim. Of these Phillips Academy was one; and to this breadth of view on the part of its founders it owes its steady and uninterrupted growth and the accumulation of that tradition and prestige that only the passage of time can bring.
To an unusual degree the roots of Phillips Academy are intertwined with those of the nation itself. It was born with the new nation. The granting of its charter was the last act of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts prior to the establishment of the new State Government. Its founder was at this very time serving on the committee of the legislature intrusted with the task of framing a constitution for the newly established state. It was the first incorporated school of its kind in the land, and, unlike nearly all schools of those and much later times, Phillips Academy was from the start avowedly a distinctly national school drawing its earliest pupils from the Washingtons of far-away Virginia and other families, distinguished or more obscure, who saw in this newly founded school the opportunities they craved for their sons and to whom distance proved no insurmountable obstacle.
With such a background Phillips Academy may justly claim a rich heritage, while its later history, recording healthy and steady growth, gives it the further right to boast of accumulating traditions that slowly but surely create and sustain that which we call atmosphere, subtle and hard to define, but distinctive, real, and definitely inspiring.
The significance and value of this honorable past have been recognized by no one more clearly than by the present Board of Trustees. The true worth of this great asset they have realized and they are determined that its influence shall count with increasing strength in the life of the school of to-day and in the development of the school of to-morrow. Newly erected buildings will carry to posterity the names of great men who by their life and works brought new prestige and lasting fame to their school. Foundations for instructorships will give permanence to those who as leaders and teachers gave of their best to an institution which won their loyalty and stirred their faith. Historic objects, breathing of a great past and urging to a still greater future, will more and more greet the eyes and stir the hearts of visitors to the school on Andover Hill. The conservation in this way of an illustrious past must inevitably stir the imagination and strengthen the loyalty of teachers and pupils alike, while its gripping influence cannot fail to extend far beyond the borders of the school itself.
What could be more appropriate at this time and in pursuance of this high purpose than to put into permanent form through the medium of the printed page the record of the lives and achievements of some of those outstanding figures of the past to whom Phillips Academy owes so much? In the spring of 1928 the school will celebrate in a significant way the completion of one hundred and fifty years of continuous and outstanding service to education and the nation. As an incentive to increased pride in the past and new enthusiasm for the future this volume should offer a distinct contribution. The steady and marked expansion in grounds and buildings will be at once apparent to all. But the hidden potent influences that may be truly said to have furnished the driving force behind it all will be better understood by those who make the acquaintance of the great figures of the past. Not all, but many of these stalwart figures will be found in this commemorative volume. They live again and have their message for those who will listen and understand.
To the regular readers of the Phillips Bulletin most of the brief sketches in this book will prove familiar. Yet even they will welcome the opportunity to possess this permanent and comprehensive record of famous men with whom they have picked perhaps only a passing acquaintance, and they will be glad to meet for the first time others who have earned their right to places in Phillips Academy's Hall of Fame.
The school is fortunate in having on its own teaching force one so exceptionally qualified to do this important work. Since he joined the academy faculty in 1908, Doctor Fuess has caught the spirit of the school as few have done and by hard and enthusiastic study has derived a knowledge of its history and traditions and of the men who have labored in and for it that marks him as the ideal man to whom to intrust this task. His published volumes, An Old New England School and Phillips Academy in the Great War, reveal the extent of his study and the breadth of his knowledge, while his work as editor of the Phillips Bulletin, appreciated so deeply by all old Andover boys, has won commendation everywhere and has given that publication a distinct and significant place among the best of similar publications issued by the leading colleges and schools of the country. His wide knowledge of men and affairs associated with the school is everywhere in evidence in this book, and the portraits he has here painted of those so justly entitled to be honored with places among the Men of Andover carry their distinctive coloring and lines which blend in turn into a composite portrait about which there lingers something of that atmosphere which Phillips Academy rejoices to call its own.
THE school which somewhat audaciously opened on a Thursday morning in April, 1778, in the very midst of "war's alarms," was originally a small local institution, drawing its pupils from the immediate vicinity. Of the fifty-one boys enrolled during the first session of Master Eliphalet Pearson's administration in the renovated carpenter's shop on Andover Hill, eight were from southern New Hampshire, only a few miles away, and the others were all from Massachusetts. In 1782 arrived the first adventurous student from outside New England---John Callender, aged ten, from Fredericksburg, Virginia. What brought him such a long distance north for an education is not known; but it is interesting that he was followed, three years later, by another lad from Fredericksburg---Howell Lewis, almost an exact contemporary of young Callender. It may be surmised that the boys were at least acquaintances, for Fredericksburg was not a large city. The fact of significance here, however, is that Howell Lewis was a nephew of General George Washington, and the first of several members of the Washington family to attend Phillips Academy.
While Washington was in command of the colonial troops besieging Boston in 1775, he had been thrown into contact with Samuel Phillips, Jr., afterwards the projector of Phillips Academy, who, although only four years out of Harvard College, had been elected to the Provincial Congress and was then serving on a committee appointed to confer with the Commander in Chief on problems connected with the war. Washington was undoubtedly familiar with the experiments conducted by Phillips in an effort to supply ammunition to the continental forces and had encouraged him in the establishment of a powder-mill on the Shawsheen River.
The vicissitudes of war soon obliged Washington to leave New England, not to return for many years, but he must have been informed of what Phillips had done in education, and he probably followed with approval the progress of the Phillips School. His favorite sister, Elizabeth---known to him always as Betty---became in 1750 the second wife of Colonel Fielding Lewis, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a patriot who was a manufacturer of gunpowder in Revolutionary days. He built for her the stately mansion of Mill-Brook, afterwards called Kenmore, now preserved as a museum. Their sixth and youngest child, Howell Lewis, born on December 12, 1771, at Woodlawn, Culpepper County, Virginia, was only ten years old when his father died; and his uncle, General Washington, who had been named as his guardian, arranged to have him enter Phillips Academy, where he remained for two years, under the instruction first of Master Pearson and then of Master Ebenezer Pemberton. Howell Lewis did not go to college, but returned to Virginia, became private secretary for a time to his distinguished uncle, married the beautiful Ellen Hackley Pollard---by whom he had eleven children---and settled in Richmond. As one of the five surviving children of Betty Washington Lewis, he inherited in 1799 one of the twenty-three shares into which President Washington's residuary estate was divided; and in 1812, "with twelve male and six female slaves, and their children, under the care of Old Jack, a trusty leader among them," he moved to Mason County, Virginia, in what is now West Virginia, near the mouth of Big Buffalo Creek, where he built a plantation on the 1300 acres of what were known as the "Kanawha lands." There he died on December 26, 1822. Phillips Academy has recently been permitted to have a portrait of Howell Lewis copied by a wellknown artist from a miniature in the possession of one of his descendants, and this copy now hangs appropriately in the auditorium of George Washington Hall, on Andover Hill.
When President Washington, in the course of his northeastern tour during the autumn of 1789, rode through Andover, he already had some personal interest in the now flourishing school which his friend, Judge Phillips, had founded, and in which his nephew, Howell Lewis, had been a student. The details of that memorable visit have often been described, and it is not necessary to repeat them here. It should be kept in mind, however, that he must have inspected the Academy and have conversed with Master Pemberton, who doubtless explained the course of study which was there pursued. That he learned enough to have confidence in it may be surmised from the fact that, in 1795, two boys of the Washington name and lineage were included in the list of pupils.
A digression on some matters of genealogy may assist in clarifying a very complicated family relationship. The President's younger half-brother, Augustine Washington, had married Anne Aylett. Their son, Colonel William Augustine Washington (1757-1810), won distinction as a cavalry officer during the Revolution and married Jane, daughter of the President's own brother, John Augustine Washington, and Hannah Bushrod. Colonel William Augustine Washington, as the chart will show, was a cousin of his wife, Jane, she being an own niece and he a half-blood nephew of George Washington. They lived on an estate at Haywood, Westmoreland County, Virginia, and had four sons, of whom three attended Phillips Academy.
On April 2, 1795, President Washington equipped his nephew, Colonel Washington, with a letter to his old comrade in arms, General Benjamin Lincoln. This note of introduction, the original of which is owned by Phillips Academy, reads as follows:
This letter will be presented to you by Col. Wm. A. Washington, a nephew of mine, who I beg leave to introduce to your civilities.
His intention is to fix two of his sons at the Andover Academy; in the accomplishment of which, or any thing else he may stand in need, your aid would be very obliging to
Your obed't and affectionate Serv't
P.S. If my nephew should desire it, I pray you to introduce him to the Governor.
The two sons referred to in this letter were Augustine Washington and Bushrod Washington, who were duly enrolled at Andover in the summer of 1795. Their sojourn at Phillips Academy was not, however, altogether successful, as is quite evident from a letter from Judge Phillips to his son, John Phillips, on September 14, 1796, when the latter was about to undertake a journey to New York and Philadelphia:
If you are to be introduced to the President, you will predetermine what to say in answering any enquiries concerning the youth; & if he has a desire to know their character, it will be incumbent to give it fairly. You can say much of the disposition of Augustine & his application, his desire to do right & to gratify his friends. You will naturally mention the disadvantage he labored under before he came, the labor it is to him to learn, & the embarrassment he suffers from his extreme diffidence. If he is to live with a merchant, the sooner he is qualified for & placed with one the better. I hope you will find out acceptable words. Don't speak too fast.
It is apparent from the tone of Judge Phillips's instructions that he would have been glad to be relieved of his two charges; and a letter sent by him on July 20, 1797, to Colonel William Augustine Washington himself further explains the situation:
To Colonel Wm. Aug'n Washington.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 22d of May & the 22d of June---the former enclosing a bill for $300 was rec'd on the 3 and the last on the 8 of the present month. In your last you are pleased to communicate your determination of having your sons return'd to Virg'a. The circumstance which gives rise to this determination has occasioned me many anxious hours & recourse has been had to every expedient that could be thought of, to excite a greater alteration in yr. youngest son, but, it grieves me to say, the success has been much less than we hoped for. At the same time, Justice requires me to say that his temper is good, his disposition kind, generous, and manly, & that he has the good wishes of all about him.
Very soon after receiving notice of yr. determination I took measures to enquire for a vessel bound to Potomacke---but am checked in my enquiries by the state of yr. son Augustine's health. He has repeatedly said that his health has been generally much better here than when in Virg'a. Last winter he caught cold---had a complaint of the pulmonic kind---& spit blood a few times, but got quite over those complaints. In the last month some of his former complaints return; he has now a cough that is troublesome, & has a febrile habit. Indeed we are fearful that his complaints are hectical. The news of his Sister's illness & decease had a great effect on his mind, and since the tidings of her death he has been much impressed with the idea that he sh'd follow her by the same disorder. We endeavor to keep up his spirits---he rides frequently & thinks he receives benefit---the best advice of the faculty is taken. I should readily receive him into my family notwithstanding Mrs. Phillips's and my own want of health; but am confident he is in a situation more favorable to him, under his present circumstances, as Mr. French is a gentleman of considerable skill & much experience in complaints like your son's & he with Mrs. French has repeatedly assured me that nothing has been omitted or shall be omitted that can be useful to him. I shall spare no attentions that are in my power which an anxious parent can desire, and shall soon give you further information concerning him. Your request respecting a private instructor and clergyman of the Episcopalian denomination will be duly attended. You will permit me to sympathize with you very sincerely under your various & heavy trials, and will please to accept the fullest assurance of my best wishes for a happy issue to them all. I am, dear Sir, with much respect, esteem, & affection, your very obedient,
In his present situation, we judged it unsafe for him to venture at this season of extreme heat into a more southern climate, but hope at the close of summer, he may take the voyage with less danger. In the meantime, I shall spare no attentions.
The older one of the two lads, Augustine, was a sickly child and died of tuberculosis in 1798, at the age of eighteen, shortly after his return to Virginia. Bushrod, the younger, eventually entered Harvard College---but did not graduate---and married Henrietta Bryan Spotswood, his cousin, by whom he had eight children. In his later life, he inherited from his uncle, Judge Bushrod Washington, a portion of the Mount Vernon estate, which he named Mount Zephyr. He died at this homestead in November, 1830, at the age of forty-five. The youngest of his children, Mrs. Fanny Washington Finch, visited Andover in 1887, and was shown the old parsonage of the Reverend Jonathan French, where her father had roomed nearly a century before.
In 1795 also two other Virginia boys of aristocratic connections came to Phillips Academy. Richard Henry Lee, the patriot, had in his old age two sons by a second marriage---Cassius Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. After their father's death, they were under the guardianship of Charles Lee, who, on May 10, 1795, sent to Judge Phillips the following letter, hitherto unpublished:
Col. William Augustine Washington, who visits Massachusetts for the purpose of placing his two sons at an academy where they may be educated in a sufficient & virtuous manner, has been so obliging as to take under his direction Cassius Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, sons of Richard Henry Lee, who also are to be put at some seminary of learning in that state and if convenient at the same where his sons will be disposed. In the character of guardian to these two youths I have requested him to place them where the best opportunities shall be offered of educating them in the manner their father has desired.
Cassius, who is nearly sixteen years of age, is to be taught arithmetic, mathematicks, natural philosophy, geography, criticism, and ethics. His father's wish was that he might have a full knowledge of these, and might not be troubled with any foreign language, but be a thorough master of the American language in writing as well as speaking it. Perhaps it may be requisite to finish him by removing him to Harvard College, for which when he shall be fit I beg to be informed.
Francis Lightfoot Lee is to be taught his own language correctly, also Latin & Greek, writing, arithmetic, geometry, mathematicks, and the other branches of a complete education.
With respect to their supplies in ordinary transient matters, Col. Washington is desired to make arrangements, and his contracts respecting them shall be complied with. Whatever sums reasonably expended on account of their board, cloathing, and tuition or other accidental necessities shall be punctually paid or remitted and in the first instance something will be advanced, and I shall prefer paying in advance half yearly for those articles that can be ascertained.
My principal inducement in sending these lads so far from Virginia and their friends is that they may be brought up in the purest principles of religion, morality, & virtue, may early learn to take care of themselves and on themselves to depend for their well-being and happiness; and from the manners and habits of your state bring hither a portion of its industry, frugality, perseverance, and republican virtues. I trust too that in point of bodily health they will acquire a hardiness which the climate here will not bestow. Having been nurtured tenderly, too sudden a change would be detrimental in every respect to them, and I trust every proper caution will in the first instance be used & in case of sickness that every kind and tender regard will be extended to their feelings. The reasonable expenses proper for boys of their age are to be permitted and shall be paid.
Upon every occasion which to you shall seem proper, I shall be happy in receiving a letter & I am very respectfully your most obedient servant.
The Lee boys boarded with Judge and Madame Phillips at the Mansion House, where they were discreetly guarded. By an odd and tragic coincidence, Cassius, the elder, who, after leaving Phillips Academy, entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), died in 1798, in the same year as Augustine Washington, who had come with him to Andover. In some of the last lines he ever penned, Cassius wrote concerning his Andover benefactors---"My friendship for the Phillips family cannot be buried with me in the grave, but it will live with me in the immortal life. Perhaps some little article presented to each of them, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips and their son, as at my request, would please them." In answering a letter enclosing this last communication from Cassius, Judge Phillips said:
The observation expressed in your introductory letter, that one of your principal inducements in sending him and his brother so far from Virginia and their friends, was "that they might be brought up in the purest principles of religion, morality, and virtue," accorded so perfectly with my ideas of the essential part of education, that I took more pleasure in urging remarks tending to that object; the unremitted and serious attention with which these remarks were received by our departed friend, heightened the pleasure of the duty; the satisfaction you are pleased to express in the conduct of his education is highly grateful; and the cordial expressions of attachment to our family in his last letter to you, will be among the sources of our most pleasing reflections through the remainder of life.
Francis Lightfoot Lee, the younger of the two lads, graduated from Harvard in 1802, received his Master's degree in 1806, and died in 1850. So far as can be ascertained, he was a person of no especial distinction. It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that, of the thirty-seven new boys registered at Phillips Academy in 1795, the two Washingtons and the two Lees were the only ones not from Massachusetts or New Hampshire, and ten were from the town of Andover itself. The first step towards becoming a national school was taken when these youngsters from the Old Dominion were allowed to join the student body.
In 1803, after an interval of some years, four more Washingtons came to Phillips Academy to be under the instruction of Principal Mark Newman. One of these, George Corbin Washington---born at Harewood, Virginia, August 20, 1789---was a younger brother of Augustine and Bushrod, who had already attended the school. He later spent some months at Harvard College---the Washingtons seem to have had difficulty in graduating from any educational institution---married Eliza Ridgeley Beau, became a lawyer, was elected State Senator and Congressman from Maryland, and became Commissioner as to Indian Claims and President of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. He died in 1854, at Georgetown, D.C., leaving eight children. Through the courtesy of one of his descendants, Phillips Academy has had his portrait copied by George Bernhard Meyer. Another of his descendants, William Lanier Washington, is at present the hereditary representative of the Washington family in America.
The three other Washingtons to come to Andover in 1803 were the children of Corbin Washington, second son of the President's own brother, John Augustine Washington, whom George Washington described as "the intimate companion of my youth and the friend of my ripened years." Corbin Washington had married Hannah Lee, daughter of Richard Henry Lee, by whom he had three sons---Richard Henry Lee Washington (1787-1819), Bushrod Corbin Washington (1790-1851), and John Augustine Washington, II (1792-1832),---all born at Walnut Farm, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Corbin Washington, the father, died in 1800, leaving his boys under the guardianship of his brother, Judge Bushrod Washington. Judge Washington was then living at Mount Vernon, where his nephews were brought up until the time arrived for them to be sent away to school. Bushrod C. Washington, a descendant of the second brother, wrote in 1879, "I have no doubt the reason these brothers were sent to Andover was because of the respect Judge Washington had for Governor Phillips's memory, and the friendship that had existed between General Washington and Governor Phillips."
Richard Henry Lee Washington, the eldest, died in 1819, unmarried, at Prospect Hill, Jefferson County, Virginia, and was never a man of any consequence. Bushrod Corbin Washington settled in Jefferson County, Virginia, as a farmer, married Anne Maria Blackburn---by whom he had two children---was a member of the House of Delegates, and died, July 28, 185 1, in Claymont, now a village in West Virginia.
The youngest of the three, John Augustine Washington, II, who came to Phillips Academy at fourteen, made his home until 1829 at Blakely, Jefferson County, Virginia, not far from his two brothers, where he married Jane Blackburn, sister of his brother Bushrod's wife, who bore him live children. He inherited Mount Vernon from his uncle and was for three years its proprietor, until his death on June 16, 1832. The estate then passed into the hands of his widow, who, after being mistress of Mount Vernon for almost exactly a quarter of a century, deeded it to her son, John Augustine Washington, III, who, in turn, sold it in 1859 to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Many of his descendants are alive to-day.
The extraordinary ramifications of Washington family genealogy, together with the amazing confusion of names from one generation to another, have made it no easy task to identify and describe the various members of the clan mentioned in this article. The blunders made by writers in the past---not excluding the author of this article---on this subject have been numerous, and it is possible that other errors will be discovered in what has been said here, although every effort has been made to check up on even the least important statements. Even eminent authorities do not agree on dates and places, and there seems to be no way of reaching absolute truth.
What does stand out without fear of dispute, after all the facts have been uncovered, is the intimate relationship between the Washington family and Phillips Academy---a relationship begun because of the friendship between Judge Phillips and General Washington and maintained after their deaths because of the prestige which the school had acquired. In a period before railroads had shortened distances, it was decidedly unusual for boys of their tender ages to be sent far away from home for an education. To-day we display no astonishment when we learn that a boy from Arizona is sitting in chapel beside one from Portland, Oregon, but it was different a century and a quarter ago. It is fitting that George Washington Hall, with its fine Stuart portrait of the President hanging in the lobby, should commemorate a relationship of which, for various reasons, Phillips Academy is very proud.
AMONG the precious relics carefully preserved at Andover by the Trustees is the Seal of Phillips Academy, made and engraved by Paul Revere. It is a disk of silver, one inch and three-eighths in diameter and approximately one-eighth of an inch thick, soft-soldered to a copper plate of similar size. Having been continuously in use from 1782 until a few years ago, it is naturally somewhat worn, and impressions from it are not so sharply defined as they once were. A modern reproduction is employed for routine office work by the administrative staff.
The story of this ancient Seal carries us back to October 8, 1778---only a few months after the opening of "Phillips School"---when, by vote of the Trustees, the Honorable William Phillips, Oliver Wendell, John Lowell, and Samuel Phillips, Jr., were constituted a special committee from their number to apply to the Massachusetts Legislative Body for an Act of Incorporation. On April 20, 1779, this same committee, not having completed its business, was continued. Eventually these gentlemen, proceeding thoroughly if not expeditiously, were able to secure the passage of the desired measure on October 4, 1780, as the last act of the old Great and General Court, and it was duly signed by John Hancock, .the Presiding Officer, with that flourish of the pen familiar to every American schoolboy. The fourth section of this Act of Incorporation includes the following provision:
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that the said Trustees and their successors, shall have one common Seal, which they make use of in any cause or business, that relates to the said office of Trustees of the said Academy; and they shall have the power and authority to break, change, and renew the said Seal, from time to time, as they shall see fit.
It was evidently the necessity of complying with this portion of the Act of Incorporation which led Oliver Wendell and John Lowell, two of the Trustees residing in Boston, to have the existing Seal made and presented to the school. These donors, aside from the noteworthy fact that one became the grandfather of Oliver Wendell Holmes and the other the grandfather of James Russell Lowell, were men of importance in their own generation. Oliver Wendell (1733-1818), the older of the two, was the son of Colonel Jacob Wendell and a descendant of Governor Bradstreet. After graduating from Harvard College in 1753, he became a Selectman of Boston, Judge of the Suffolk County Probate Court, Member of the Governor's Council, and a State Senator, as well as a Fellow of Harvard. He was associated with the Phillips family through the marriage of his sister, Margaret, to William Phillips, Judge Phillips's first cousin, once removed.
John Lowell (1743-1802) was born in Newburyport, graduated at Harvard in 1760, and later moved to Boston, where he had a brilliant career as a jurist, first as Judge of the Court of Appeals and afterwards as Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the New England District-New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He represented Newburyport in the Provincial Assembly of 1776, and was a member of the Continental Congress in 1782-83. He had three wives, with three children by the first, two by the second, and four by the third. It is interesting to remember that Oliver Wendell, John Lowell, and Samuel Phillips, Jr., all original Trustees of Phillips Academy, were delegates to the Convention to frame the Constitution of Massachusetts held at Cambridge in 1779, and that Lowell carried through the adoption of a clause stating that "all men are born free and equal," thus abolishing slavery forever in the Commonwealth.
In selecting the right person to make a seal for the new school, it was inevitable that Lowell and Wendell should turn to Paul Revere, whose work in engraving dies for coins and medals was known to be the best in New England. As early as 1764, Revere had manufactured a medal for one Joseph Cordis, and he had gradually arrived at the point where he constructed patterns from his own designs. He was the engraver of the seal used by the Massachusetts Province from 1775 to 1780, and he cut the plates for the Colonial paper currency. One of his important commissions had been the engraving of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with its familiar motto, "Ense petit placidam sub Libertate quietem." For this service his bill was nine hundred pounds, but he was quite willing to accept later the sum of fifteen pounds, "New Emission," in settlement of his account in full.
Furthermore Lowell and Wendell were on intimate terms with Paul Revere, having been associated with him on many patriotic committees. Both Revere and Lowell were present at the North End Caucus, held at Mr. William Campbell's on March 23, 1772; indeed the two were appointed together on that occasion on a committee "to examine into the Minority of the town and report to this body." At the caucus called on October 23, 1773, Revere, Lowell, and Abdiel Ruddock were elected a committee "to correspond with any committee chosen in any part of the town," in connection with "the vending of tea, sent by the East India Company to any part of the Continent." At a Town Meeting, held on March 29, 1776, after the evacuation of Boston by the British, Oliver Wendell, Esq., and Major Paul Revere were chosen as "a Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety for the year ensuing."
It was, then, to Paul Revere, the best-known craftsman in metals in Boston and their own friend and neighbor, that Wendell and Lowell naturally entrusted the making of the official seal for Phillips Academy. Not long ago, through the courtesy of Revere's descendants, Mrs. Nathaniel Thayer, of Boston, and Mr. William B. Revere, of Canton, I was permitted to examine the Paul Revere "Day Books," which they have loaned to the Massachusetts Historical Society. The Librarian brought in these ledgers, preserved since the eighteenth century, with the entries set down in Revere's own hand---often in a hasty scrawl, as if he were eager to be done with bookkeeping and escape to some patriotic gathering. It was not difficult to discover the item for which I was searching, for under the date of April 5, 1782, at the foot of a long page, was plainly written the following entry:
JOHN LOWELL, ESQ.
To engrav'g Silv'r seal 36/ the
2 | 8
Two pounds and eight shillings for making and engraving a silver seal---not at all expensive as such things go! And a specialist in engraving, who examined the Seal, said, as he turned it lovingly over in his hands, "This is absolutely priceless!"
Only one other step now needs to be recorded. At the next meeting of the Board of Trustees, about six weeks later, the Seal thus made and paid for was formally presented, a fact perpetuated by an entry for May 22, 1782:
Voted, that the thanks of the Trustees be given to the Hon. Oliver Wendell and John Lowell, Esq. for the donation of a Seal for the Academy.
Something should be said here regarding the design on the Seal. Nothing so far has been discovered as to its originator, there being no reference to it in the existing Phillips papers or in contemporary documents. The central feature---a beehive, with an adjacent flowering plant (species unknown), and bees flitting between the two---is traditionally attributed to Judge Phillips, who deemed idleness to be the most insidious and demoralizing of the vices. It doubtless symbolizes a group of industrious scholars in his Academy engaged in emulating the example set for them in the hymn of Isaac Watts:
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
The unclouded sun above, with rays extending in every direction, may well represent the light of learning shining out from the newly established Phillips School. We are told by specialists in heraldry that these details show, in their form and arrangement, no acquaintance with that highly technical art; but the idea which they conveyed was expressed with perfect clearness---at least to the Trustees and friends of Phillips Academy.
The two mottoes on the Seal are not altogether original. Within the sun's refulgent orb are the words "Non Sibi," a free translation of which is "Not for Self." These Latin words have often appeared in recent years as part of some trite phrase, such as "Non Sibi, sed Omnibus" or "Non Sibi, sed Patriae." Professor Charles H. Forbes makes the plausible suggestion that it is a reminiscence of the famous line of Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 383---"Nec sibi, sed toti genitum se credere mundo" (and that he believed that he was born, not for self, but for the entire world). This passage referring to Cato and his principles was frequently quoted as "non sibi" when there was no reason for connecting it with a preceding clause. Whatever the source of the phrase, the altruistic motives of the Founders were well brought out in this simple language, which summarizes the theory on which Judge Phillips based his own life and to which he hoped and expected that his institution would adhere.
The phrase at the lower curve of the Seal---"Finis Origine Pendet," translated "The End Depends upon the Beginning"---has been traced by Arthur S. Pease, P.S., '98, now President of Amherst College, to the Roman astrological poet, Manilius, in whose lines it has unquestionably a fatalistic significance. On this subject President Pease has written convincingly in the Phillips Bulletin for January, 1924, page 15. As he points out, it is unlikely that Samuel Phillips, Jr., even though a Harvard graduate, had ever read this rather obscure Latin versifier. It is probable that Phillips, finding this apothegm in some collection of proverbs or sententious sayings, adopted it for his own motto, later transferring it to the school which he had established. In any event, he altered the idea from the original and employed the phrase to emphasize the importance of getting the right kind of a start in life. On the Seal it is a classical version of "As the Twig is Bent, so is the Tree Inclined."
It may not be amiss to add a word about Paul Revere, the maker of the Seal---the man who has been called "The Mercury of the Revolution." He was born, January 1, 1735, in Boston, the third of twelve children of Apollos Rivoire, who came to Massachusetts in 1723 from the Island of Guernsey, became a goldsmith, married Deborah Hichborn, and changed his name to Paul Revere because of certain difficulties involved in pronouncing the French form in the English tongue. The younger Paul followed his father's occupation, taking charge of the shop when the latter died in 1754, and became a skilful designer and craftsman in gold and silver---a New England Benvenuto Cellini. His silverware---almost invaluable to-day---is of excellent workmanship, based largely on English eighteenth-century designs, and, in the judgment of experts, compares not unfavorably with the products of the best British silversmiths of that period. It was a time when patterns were hammered and carved out laboriously by hand, and, in this slow fashion, Revere manufactured a great variety of plate---tankards, pitchers, teapots, tureens, snuffboxes, spoons, sugar baskets, and candlesticks. At the exhibition of American silverware displayed in 1906 at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, sixty pieces were shown. He did especially well in work involving crests, armorial designs, and cartouches enclosing initials; but all his silver is distinguished by grace of line and exquisite proportion.
With a versatility not uncommon among colonial craftsmen, Revere ventured into other fields besides silver. At one period he made artificial teeth; indeed the body of General Warren was recognized after Bunker Hill because of a tooth which Revere had set for him and could positively identify. He manufactured picture frames for the artist, John Singleton Copley. As an engraver, he was mainly self-taught, but he improved greatly with practice. He designed and made bookplates for many of the wealthier Boston families. Some picturesque caricatures of political events were engraved in his shop, the most famous being the rather crude copper plate representation of the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770.
During the second campaign against Crown Point in 1756, Revere had some military experience and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Artillery. In the strenuous days before the Revolution he was an active and uncompromising patriot, the friend of Hancock, Warren, Otis, and the two Adamses, and one of the "Sons of Liberty." In the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, he took a leading part. The tale of his dramatic ride to Lexington and Concord has, of course, been moulded by Longfellow into part of our American tradition, and it is doubtless for that exploit that he is chiefly remembered to-day. It is not so well known, perhaps, that he was the messenger usually employed on difficult and dangerous business by the Committee of Safety, and that he rode twice to New York and Philadelphia in 1774 to secure the cooperation of the other colonies.
In the early months of the war, Revere experimented with the making of gunpowder and took charge, in May, 1776, of the important powder-mill in Canton, Massachusetts. In April of the same year he was promoted to be a Major in the First Regiment of Militia, and in November he was transferred to the artillery regiment, as Lieutenant-Colonel. For the next few years he was on active duty, particularly at Castle William in Boston Harbor, where he had command of the garrison. Sent on the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition in 1779, he was, on his return, made the subject of a military inquiry. After repeatedly demanding an investigation, he was at last completely vindicated on February 19, 1782, just before he made the Seal of Phillips Academy.
While battles were being waged, Revere virtually abandoned his business, but, with the termination of hostilities, he took it up again with renewed vigor. In 1783, he opened a jewelry shop on Essex Street, in Boston. At the same time he was occupied with researches, as a consequence of which he was the first man on this side of the Atlantic to smelt copper ore. His factory, at first very small, was gradually enlarged until he was casting bells in his own foundry, rolling copper in his own mills, and even forging bronze cannon. He furnished six thousand square feet of metal for recoppering the State House dome, and he made the bolts, spikes, pumps, and other metal parts for the frigate Constitution---"Old Ironsides." Before the century ended, he was the proprietor of a flourishing enterprise, with every possible facility for handling metals.
In 1757, Revere married Sarah Orne, by whom he had eight children. After her death in 1773, he soon took another wife, Rachael Walker, who bore him eight more children. Only one child by his first wife and four by his second survived him.
To the very close of his long career Paul Revere was occupied with public affairs. He strongly advocated in 1788 the adoption of the new United States Constitution, and his influence was decisive in bringing about a favorable vote in Massachusetts. He was an active member of the Masonic Order, being Grand Master from 1794 to 1797, in this capacity laying the cornerstone of the State House in 1795. When he died, May 10, 1818, having outlived most of his contemporaries, he was laid to rest in the "Granary Burying Ground," on Tremont Street, where his body lies near those of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other Revolutionary patriots.
While Paul Revere did not achieve the political honors which rewarded such personages as John Hancock and John Adams, he was, nevertheless, one of the notable figures of his time. A big virile man, he had abundant energy which was joined with the ambition of the creative artist. His untiring enthusiasm led him to take up many projects, and he seldom failed to carry through creditably whatever he started to do. We have good reason to congratulate ourselves on the connection between Phillips Academy and Paul Revere.
|A wonder in these days, my friend,---
An artist I have known,
Who never slandered others' works,
Nor ever praised his own.
AT least two of the buildings now occupied by Phillips Academy, Andover, were designed by Charles Bulfinch, the earliest of our native New England professional architects. Although Bulfinch served no formal apprenticeship in drafting, he was endowed with the good taste, the technical skill, and the imagination which are requisite in any creative artist, and he had the intelligence to learn from the past. A year and a half spent in Europe---his only visit abroad during a long life---brought him in contact with the Renaissance architecture of France, Italy, and England, and he returned to his own country as a pioneer in that field, being long almost without a competitor. It was his destiny to represent in brick and stone the restrained and dignified ideals of his generation, and, as the architect of the Massachusetts State House and of the Capitol at Washington, he is identified with both Commonwealth and Nation in an enduring way. A memorial on Beacon Hill describes him as "A grave, modest, just, and cheerful man, of simple habits, clear intelligence, high principles, and gentle judgment." What finer epitaph could anyone desire?
Bulfinch's career, although not precisely melodramatic, was marked by strange vicissitudes. Accustomed during his youth to luxury, he was in his middle age constrained to spend a month, in jail for debt. A fastidious and idealistic artist, he was also for many years Chairman of the Board of Selectmen in the Town of Boston, and even served as Superintendent of Police on a salary of $600 a year. Drifting into architecture gradually as a relief from idleness, he later adopted it seriously as an occupation. Born in Boston and habituated to its atmosphere, he became for a considerable period a resident of Washington, the present charm of which he helped to create. Finally, genius though he was, he spent the last years of his life waiting for commissions which never seemed to come.
Bulfinch, as we have indicated, belonged by right to the inner circle of Boston society. His father, the well-known physician, Dr. Thomas Bulfinch, was long remembered for his magnetic personality and for the easy elegance in which he rode in a chariot from patient to patient. His mother was Susan Apthorp, one of the eighteen children of Charles Apthorp, "the richest man in Boston," and a woman who possessed intellectual powers of uncommon vigor. It was Mr. Apthorp who contributed most of the money for King's Chapel, and the Bulfinches also were intimately connected with that church---indeed Dr. Bulfinch was long its Senior Warden.
Charles Bulfinch was born, August 8, 1763, in the Bulfinch mansion on Bowdoin Square, a district not to-day accepted as aristocratic. He was one of eight children, five of whom grew to maturity. As a lad, he played in the very midst of pre-Revolutionary excitement. He must have heard his parents at the breakfasttable talking about the "massacre" of Brattle Street and the Tea Party and the blockade of the port; and he watched the progress of Bunker Hill battle from the roof of the family dwelling-house. These momentous events, however, did not limit or retard his education. After completing the course at Boston Latin School, he entered Harvard in 1778, graduating three years later as a member of a small war class of twenty-seven. Being then only eighteen, he was much too young to shoulder a gun and help defeat the British at Yorktown. He was poring over textbooks and attending lectures while others, more mature in age, were achieving our national independence.
Dr. Bulfinch, who was evidently perplexed regarding the future of his gifted son, placed him in the counting-room of Joseph Barrell, Esq.: but in those post-war days commerce was slack, and the young Harvard man spent his many leisure hours in sketching. And then, by a stroke of good fortune, an uncle died at just the right moment, leaving a small legacy of two hundred pounds, which Charles's parents determined to use in sending their son abroad. So to Europe he set out in June, 1785, and did not return until January, 1787, after having looked around, not without profit to himself. "I was delighted," he said, "in observing the numerous objects & beauties of nature & art that I met with on all sides, particularly the wonders of Architecture, & the kindred arts of painting and sculpture." There is a legend that the first glimpse of St. Peter's moved him to tears. Certainly he made careful studies of some of the acknowledged masterpieces of the Renaissance, thus acquiring a sound standard of judgment which was to be useful to him at a later period.
Bulfinch returned to Boston quite prepared to settle down among his friends. On November 20, 1788, he was married to his cousin, Hannah Apthorp, whom he had long known---a girl of cheerful and animated disposition, an orphan, with considerable property. They began housekeeping, after a trip to New York and Philadelphia to attend the inauguration of President Washington, in a home of their own on Marlborough Street, as the section of the present Washington Street between School and Summer streets was then called. It seemed as if the young couple, with an ample income, similar tastes, and pleasant surroundings, were certain of a happy future.
In an experimental way, Bulfinch was trying his hand at designing. He wrote, "On my return to Boston, I was warmly received by my friends, and passed a season of leisure, pursuing no business but giving gratuitous advice in architecture, and looking forward to an establishment in life." With commendable ambition, he drew, as early as 1787, a plan for a new Massachusetts State House, but it was not carried out for some years. The first drawing of his to be actually executed was apparently that of the Hollis Street Church, erected in 1788 and no longer standing. A year later he was responsible for the Beacon Hill Memorial Column, originally built of brick covered with stucco, but reproduced in stone in 1898, to the east of the State House. Bulfinch also planned churches in Taunton and Pittsfield, as well as the Connecticut State House, at Hartford, completed in 1796 and recently restored. This last structure, the first public edifice erected from his plans, shows admirable proportions and many attractive details, especially in some of the interior ornamentation.
In 1795, the Bulfinches must have seemed to any outsider prosperous and happy. Mrs. Bulfinch wrote on July 12, of that year: "Affluence and content are ours, virtue and innocence the aim of our lives . . . The world has nothing more to give, and we must own with humility these are above our deserts." Yet within a few short months their financial circumstances had completely changed, through no fault of their own. It seems that Bulfinch had enthusiastically taken up a project for constructing a series of connected dwellings on Franklin Place, arranged in a peculiar fashion like similar groups in London, with a crescent on one side of a park and a straight line front on the other. The curve on the south side may still be seen on Franklin Street, near Hawley Street, in Boston, although the original residences have long since been displaced by office buildings and the entrance is preserved only in the name of Arch Street. Doubtless Bulfinch's plan was somewhat visionary and not altogether practical; but he had his own funds to invest, and he succeeded in interesting others in the scheme. Unfortunately, just as the operations were at their height, the financial situation, following the war between England and France and the much criticized Jay Treaty of November, 1794, was in an unsettled state. Only half the shares could be disposed of, and Bulfinch, pressed mercilessly by his creditors, had to be adjudged a bankrupt. He described the consequences as follows:
My inexperience and that of my agents in conducting business of this nature, together with my earnest desire to discharge all demands as far as possible, led me to surrender all my property, even that obtained by marriage, which was intended to be secured to my wife and her heirs but from a defect in the form of settlement this property was included with the rest, and I found myself reduced to my personal exertions for my support.
The immediate outcome was that the Bulfinches had to give up their attractive home and their servants and go to live, first in a small house of their own, and then with the Storer family, Mrs. Storer being Bulfinch's sister. When the strain was at its severest, their two infant sons died, from "the fatal effects of inoculation," leaving them with only a little girl---Susan, their first-born. At twenty-five Mrs. Bulfinch could speak of herself as one "who has known the extremes of happiness and misfortune, and who wishes to preserve her mind in such a state that it may never be surpriz'd by either." Throughout the ordeal the couple displayed the noblest kind of fortitude, and Mrs. Bulfinch wrote in September, 1796, when it seemed as if everything were lost, "Let me rejoice that we have health, friends, and a good conscience."
Even in this period of almost complete ruin, life offered some compensations. In February, 1795, when Bulfinch's plan for the Massachusetts State House had been officially approved, he was appointed one of the three agents for its erection, at a salary of $1800. On Independence Day of that year, the cornerstone was laid by Governor Samuel Adams, assisted by Paul Revere; and in January, 1798, when the halls were ready for occupancy by the General Court, Bulfinch marched as a conspicuous figure in the colorful procession from the old State House to the new capitol on Beacon Hill. Since that date the building has been altered and enlarged, especially by the addition of the two brick wings and the unattractive annex at the rear; but the original front has been carefully preserved, and it is still one of the most impressive public buildings in this country, producing, as it does, the effect of dignity combined with grace and charm. It has been accurately said that Bulfinch made noble use of a noble site. A well-known British architect wrote of it, "Through it we can trace the artistic pedigree of Bulfinch to the great line of Gibbs, Wren, and Jones." It has been plausibly suggested by Mr. Charles A. Place, Bulfinch's most recent biographer, that the architect may have found a model in Somerset House, in London, the façade of which is strikingly similar to the State House. But Bulfinch was no mere imitator, and there is sufficient originality in his designing to entitle him to high praise. It is much to his credit, and decidedly fortunate for the city and the Commonwealth, that he instinctively turned to simple models. It is, everything considered, the best building Bulfinch ever constructed.
It was his connection with the State House which established Bulfinch's reputation as a professional architect and enabled him thus to earn a modest livelihood during the next few years---a period in which he designed some of the most beautiful buildings in New England. In 1803, he completed Holy Cross Church, the first Roman Catholic place of worship in Boston; and a year later he finished the New North Church, originally Protestant but now St. Stephen's Catholic Church and the only religious edifice planned by Bulfinch standing to-day in that city. In 1805, he carried out an enlargement of Faneuil Hall, preserving skilfully the original exterior style of that historic structure. University Hall (1813), at Harvard, of Chelmsford granite, is one of the best specimens of Bulfinch's art, although the design was somewhat modified in 1842. The Massachusetts General Hospital (1818) was virtually the last important building designed by Bulfinch for his native city---indeed he called it "my last act for Boston." It should be added that the Federal Street Church (1809), no longer standing, was his first and only attempt at ecclesiastical Gothic.
The wanderer about Boston with an interest in Bulfinch's domestic architecture will find much to attract his eye, particularly in the vicinity of Beacon Hill. Bulfinch himself did not record any of his houses, and it is, therefore, difficult to verify some of the traditions which ascribe particular pieces of work to him. It is certain, however, that, early in his career, he built houses for Joseph Barrell, his first employer, and for General Henry Knox. The Fay House, now the Administration Center of Radcliffe College, is unusually interesting because of its two bays and its oval rooms in the interior. The first Harrison Gray Otis House, at the corner of Cambridge and Lynde streets, has been carefully maintained in all its charm by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. The second Otis House (8 Mount Vernon Street) and the third Otis House (45 Beacon Street) are also excellent examples of Bulfinch's style. The building at 4 Park Street, formerly occupied by Houghton Mifflin Company, is the only one remaining of four connected residences unquestionably designed by Bulfinch in 1805. Other interesting specimens of his work may be found at 55, 57, and 87 Mount Vernon Street, and at 13, 15, and 17 Chestnut Street. Only a small number of these distinctive houses can be mentioned here. Many others have disappeared in the natural devastation of time.
During this fruitful period, when Bulfinch was doing so much for the architecture of Boston, he was also the city's faithful servant in another less romantic field. Elected to the Board of Selectmen in 1793 and 1794, he declined a reelection on the ground of "pressure of business." On March 11, 1799, however, he was again chosen, and acted subsequently as Chairman of the Board for nearly nineteen years, during an important era of development. Although the population at the end of the eighteenth century was more than 20,000, Boston was still under the town-meeting system of government. As Chairman of the Board, Bulfinch occupied a position equivalent to that of Mayor, and he managed affairs so efficiently that he is known even today as the "Great Selectman." The members of the Board received no remuneration, but shortly after Bulfinch's election as Chairman, they created the office of Superintendent of Police, with a salary of $600, and then proceeded to name Bulfinch as its incumbent. This stipend was increased in 1810 to $1000---not an extravagant sum considering that Bulfinch's professional counsel as an architect was being constantly required and that the population had meanwhile grown to be 34,000.
During Bulfinch's administration much of modern Boston had its origin. A large part of the unsightly and unsanitary Mill Pond was filled in, chiefly with earth removed from the peak of Beacon Hill, and the new level area thus formed was turned into thoroughfares. Charles Street was "laid out and filled over a marsh"; all traveled ways were provided with sidewalks; many streets were widened and protruding buildings were removed. The harassed Chairman had to attend to countless petty details, and the list of his achievements, as drawn up hurriedly in his old age, is astounding. His labors for the community were rudely interrupted in July, 1811, by his imprisonment in jail for a month because of failure to meet certain notes---the total aggregating $9000. Bulfinch seems always to have been a careless business man, and he involved himself in financial difficulties almost without being aware of his precarious condition. His incarceration was evidently not viewed as a disgrace, for he continued, after his release, to hold the office of Selectman until he moved to Washington. In 1815, by some accident, he and two others of the Board failed of reelection. Immediately every one of his colleagues on the Board resigned, with the result that, at a second election, Bulfinch was reinstated by a large majority. His associates, those who knew him and his work best, had complete confidence in him and his ability.
Meanwhile Bulfinch's family of a daughter and six sons were getting older, and he found their education very expensive. There were moments when he was embarrassed for lack of ready cash, and his much-enduring wife had to take boarders. He wrote: "Various disappointments in life have contracted our circle of acquaintance and made us very dependent on our family for enjoyments." A severe accident which he suffered from slipping down the icy steps of Faneuil Hall troubled him for some years and left him with a permanent limp. On the whole, however, he was happy in his situation, and his transfer to Washington interrupted what had been a quiet and busy life.
In January, 1817, on a tour for the investigation of hospitals in other cities, Bulfinch visited Washington, where he was taken to the ruins of the Capitol, which had been burned by the British invaders in 1814. In July, when President Monroe came to Boston, Bulfinch, as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, was for a week almost constantly in his company. Towards the close of the same year, Bulfinch received an intimation, through a gentleman in the confidence of the President, that the architect Latrobe was about to be displaced and that an application for his position would be approved. Bulfinch acted accordingly and was awarded the appointment by return mail, beginning December 11, 1817, his salary to be $2500 a year and the expense of moving to Washington. He promptly resigned as Selectman and was located on the Potomac early in January. There he was assigned an office in the Capitol itself, and took a house for his family on Capitol Hill, where he was to remain for the next twelve years.
The original architect of the Capitol had been an English jack-of-all-trades named William Thornton, "full of talent and eccentricity," who had won a prize of $500 offered to the winner of a competition for the best drawing. Although Thornton was merely a versatile amateur, his plans were accepted, and the cornerstone of the building was laid on September 18, 1793, by President Washington. In 1803, when Latrobe, a man of cleverness and good taste, took charge of the work, he made some alterations in the plans, but his progress was stopped by the conflagration of 1814. It was Bulfinch's task to complete the wings and to construct the central portion, using Latrobe's designs as a basis. Recognizing Latrobe's ability, he nevertheless wrote, after a study of the specifications, "There are certainly faults enough in Latrobe's designs to justify the opposition to him." Through Bulfinch's energy, the wings were ready by December, 1819, and three years later the exterior was almost completed. Bulfinch himself would have preferred a lower dome than the one which was eventually constructed, but he was overruled by a decision of the President's Cabinet and the Commissioner of Public Buildings. The distinction of constructing our National Capitol cannot truthfully be assigned to any one person. The structure is rather a composite, representing the ideas of several amateurs and experts. Bulfinch's contribution, however, has rightly been called "the nucleus and center of the whole," and the Western Portico, perhaps the most beautiful feature of the building, is entirely his.
After the main task was over, Bulfinch was employed for a time on landscape work around the Capitol. His position was abolished by Act of Congress on May 2, 1828, but he continued to serve in various unofficial capacities until June, 1830, when he returned with his family to Boston.
In discussing other matters, we have passed over Bulfinch's connections with Andover Hill. The Records of the Trustees tell us nothing regarding the architects of the older buildings now belonging to Phillips Academy. Foxcroft Hall, the earliest of the brick dormitories in the old Seminary Row, was erected by Madame Phoebe Foxcroft Phillips and her son, John Phillips, Esq., and tendered to the Trustees completed on September 27, 1809; and I can find no mention whatever of its architect. There is a tradition that it was modeled closely after one of the dormitories at Brown and that Colonel John Phillips visited Providence on a tour of inspection. It was common enough in those days for a contractor to prepare his own designs, but even the name of the builder has disappeared with the passage of time. The Newman House (1811), the Stuart House (1812), the Farrar House (1812), and the Pease House (1816) are all attractive residences, colonial in type and often showing much beauty of ornamentation, but there is nothing to link them with Bulfinch. There is the fact, also, that all of Bulfinch's known examples of domestic architecture are of brick, not of wood.
In 1817, the benevolent William Bartlet, having watched with interest the development of the Seminary, resolved to provide that institution with a suitable Chapel. It is uncertain just how he secured Bulfinch as the architect---possibly through the intervention of His Honor, William Phillips, Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts from 1812 to 1823, who had been a Trustee of Phillips Academy since 1791, and who was a friend of Bulfinch, as well as one of his political associates. Nothing can be discovered of the way in which the negotiations were begun; but the building is included in a list made out by Bulfinch himself, where it is designated as "Chapel and Library for Theological Institution." As completed in 1818 and transferred to the Trustees by the donor, it was made of brick, containing a chapel at one end and a library at the other, with recitation rooms above. The total cost was apparently $23,374.
It was this building which was known for more than ninety years as Bartlet Chapel and used by Andover Theological Seminary. In the '70's some ill-advised persons altered it by adding a preposterous clock tower, thus destroying the effect of the Bulfinch façade. In 1908, when the Seminary was moved to Cambridge, the building was purchased by Phillips Academy, rechristened Pearson Hall, to distinguish it from Bartlet Hall (then in use as a dormitory), and divided into recitation rooms. In 1924, it was shifted from its commanding location to a new site to the southeast; the inappropriate tower was taken down and the beautiful Bulfinch lines were restored just as far as that could possibly be done; and it stands to-day much as it was originally constructed, although the interior has been completely changed---not altogether for the better.
It has always been a tradition that Bulfinch also designed the third Academy Building, now in use as the Dining Hall, and the general similarity of this structure to Pearson Hall confirms this theory. The Trustees voted, on March 16, 1818, in consideration of the sum of $2000 contributed by Lieutenant-Governor Phillips, to proceed with the construction of a new Academy Building to replace the wooden schoolhouse which had been consumed by fire on the night of January 30. It was a moment when workmen and contractors were busy with Bartlet Chapel, and it was perfectly natural that the Trustees, especially since Lieutenant-Governor Phillips was active among them, should turn to Bulfinch-then located in Washington---and ask him to plan another brick building on the same general lines as Bartlet Chapel and facing the same direction. Additional evidence is supplied by the Academy Day Book, which has an entry on April 10, 1819: "Paid Charles Bulfinch for Hardware, $23-18. Paid Charles Bulfinch for Hinges, $1." It is inconceivable that money for these articles should have been paid to Bulfinch at this date if he had not been the Academy architect.
Work continued on the Brick Academy during the summer of 1818, Mr. Phillips having added in August a further $3000 to his original donation. The total cost, when it was completed in 1819, was $13,252.73. It is interesting to note that the dimensions of the ground plans of the two buildings are almost the same, Pearson Hall being 88 feet, 3 inches, by 40 feet, 2 inches, and the Dining Hall 80 feet by 40 feet. According to Mr. Charles A. Place, the Dining Hall has several typical Bulfinch features, notably the pediment on the slightly projecting middle elevation and the beautifully proportioned cupola. The interior, because of alterations for various purposes, shows now little trace of the original plan.
It may be added that these two halls were designed at the period when Bulfinch had reached the height of his achievement, having just completed the beautiful church at Lancaster, Massachusetts, which represents, in Mr. Place's opinion, "the highest development of this style of architecture in America."
We must now return to the architect himself, who, on his arrival in Boston after twelve years of absence, found no professional engagements awaiting him except the completion of the State House at Augusta, Maine. He settled down, therefore, to a life of enforced leisure. One winter he and his wife spent in Washington with their son, Greenleaf; and then the aging couple were invited by their nieces to make a home with them in the old house in Bowdoin Square, where Bulfinch had been born. Here, in this charming spot, they spent their last years. Mrs. Bulfinch died in 1841, and her husband passed away, April 15, 1844, in the very room which had seen his birth eighty-one years before. A poem, written by one of his sons, describes him as he was in his old age:
Now at eventide
Thou standest, thy children's reverence and pride,
Still gathering round, though tenderer ties be torn.
Calm be these evening hours, and blest the morn
Uniting those whom Death can nevermore divide.
Bulfinch's funeral, held in King's Chapel, was attended by a representative group of Boston's foremost citizens. He was later buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, the monument over his grave being the stone urn which had once been an important feature of the project at Franklin Place which had brought about his financial downfall. It was a pathetically ironical way of commemorating the great architect.
Bulfinch was a slender, upright figure, with a slight halt in his gait occasioned by his injured leg. His face was refined and sensitive, and he had about him a quiet, unassuming dignity. It has been said of him that "he was an aristocrat in a sense that is good even in a republic." Possessing remarkable patience and serenity of temper, he seldom yielded to irritation, and he was invariably modest in expressing his views. Even when confronted by irreparable disaster, he preserved his self-respect:
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing, yet had all.
There will always be futile speculation as to the sources from which our first native-born architect derived his inspiration. That he owned and studied the best existing volumes on the subject of architecture is unquestionable. Undoubtedly, too, he was in some degree affected by Sir Christopher Wren as well as by James Gibbs. But he was no slavish follower of others. With strong convictions of his own, he modified his designs to fit new situations, as every good artist should do. No man without freshness of spirit and decided originality could have done what he accomplished. He was free from any tendency towards excess or affectation, and he knew, as if by instinct, what would be appropriate. Certainly at Andover he adjusted his buildings perfectly to their environment, with the result that they still are a delight to the eye because of their simplicity, their propriety, their admirable proportions, and their distinctive charm.
|Here lies who hymned America; to sing or preach,
Dante's suggestive words our question's tribute teach,
Where was "a better smith of the maternal speech"?
THROUGH the generosity of one of Phillips Academy's loyal friends, the Trustees have recently acquired by purchase the chair in which the Reverend Samuel Francis Smith sat when he wrote the words of the famous hymn "America." There is no good citizen of Andover who does not take pride in pointing out to visitors the old square colonial house at 147 Main Street in which, in the year 1832, the lines of "My country, 'tis of thee" were first set down. It is, however, one of life's little ironies that, while the hymn is one which every schoolboy knows by heart, the author himself, "disguised under the universal name of Smith," is almost forgotten. In 1895, General Henry B. Carrington edited a volume of Dr. Smith's verses, called Poems of Home and Country, but it created no sensation in the literary world. A few hymns like "The morning light is breaking" and "Blest be the tie that binds" are frequently sung. But it is "America" alone which preserves this poet's memory from oblivion.
Samuel Francis Smith was born on October 21, 1808, in Boston, "under the sound of the Old North Church chimes." He later said, in a reminiscent mood:
A strong poetical bias took hold of me when I was a boy of eight years. An "Elegy on a Cat," then written, disappeared long since, as well as the cat.
He was sent to the Eliot School and the Boston Latin School, and from there to Harvard, where he was a member, with Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Freeman Clarke, and others, of the distinguished class of 1829. Coming to Andover in the autumn after his graduation, he spent three years at Andover Theological Seminary, taking his degree in divinity in 1832. One selection in his published works is called "Our years roll on," composed on New Year's Day, 1832, while he was a student in the Seminary. A few lines will show its quality:
Youths of few summers,---boys, still dolts at school,
Leaping the rigors of parental rule,
Deem all control a bore, and vote it harsh;
Ape foreign style, and sport the curled moustache;
Plunge with a zest, in nonsense and in sin,
Hair-oil without, and hair-brained skulls within:
The pomp external, affluently shed,
Proclaims they have within an empty head.
How eloquently weakness tells its tale!
Like ships that tower aloft, with wind in every sail.
Those were days when, in spite of the influence of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, the spirit of Alexander Pope dominated American poetry, and these lines, even to the final alexandrine, are typically eighteenth century.
We come now to the story of "America," the main details of which have been accurately given by the author himself. In the winter of 1832 he was living in the residence on Main Street now owned by Phillips Academy and occupied by Mrs. Arthur Allen, but formerly known for many years as the Blunt House. It was a cold and gloomy day in February,---the exact date unknown. Young Smith, then only twenty-four years old, was looking through some music books, brought from Germany by William C. Woodbridge and given by him to the composer, Lowell Mason, who in turn had placed them in Smith's hands, asking him to translate anything he cared for or to write original words to any of the music which he liked. The next step was described by Smith himself:
Falling in with the tune of one of them now called "America," and being pleased with its simple and easy movement, I glanced at the German words, and, seeing that they were patriotic, instantly felt the impulse to write a patriotic hymn of my own, to the same tune. Seizing a scrap of waste paper, I put upon it, within half an hour, the verses substantially as they stand to-day.
The chair now in the possession of Phillips Academy is, according to Dr. Smith's own evidence, the one in which he sat as he wrote off the words. The air is ordinarily attributed to Henry Carey, author of "Sally in Our Alley," who is said to have composed it in 1742, but it may go back to an earlier period. In 1815, it was the national anthem for England, Prussia, and Russia.
The Seminary Senior sent in a few weeks to Mr. Mason a few translations and original poems, with "America" thrown indifferently among them. Much to his amazement, he found later that Mason had incorporated it in a program for the Independence Day Celebration, July 4, 1832, at the Park Street Church, in Boston. It was here, so far as can be ascertained, sung for the first time. Something about it caught the attention of the public, and it spread rapidly throughout the country. In his autobiography, Dr. Smith said of it:
When it was composed, I was profoundly impressed with the necessary relation between love of God and love of country; and I rejoice if the expression of my own sentiments and convictions still finds an answering chord in the hearts of my countrymen.
Those who knew him well, however, realized that he considered "America" to be an "accidental hit," and that he was sometimes a little disturbed at its popularity as compared with several of his later hymns, which he thought to be much superior. From the strictly poetical point of view, this may be a fact; but "America" is so bound up now with our devotion to country that it must, to true patriots, seem above criticism.
For a year after leaving Andover, Smith did editorial work for religious papers in Boston; but on February 12, 1834, he was ordained as pastor of a Baptist Church in Waterville, Maine. Here he not only preached but also was elected Professor of Modern Languages at Colby College. On September 16, he married Mary White Smith, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, who had been a schoolmate of Whittier.
At Colby, Dr. Smith became a profound student of comparative philology, and it is said that he mastered perfectly fifteen languages. Besides teaching French and German, he also took charge of all the Greek instruction in the college, there being a vacancy in that department. He had time to read through every word of Marshman's Chinese Grammar---"a vast quarto, nearly as large as a family Bible." For the Encyclopaedia Americana he made translations from the German aggregating more than a thousand pages. In his own field he is said to have been the equal in scholarly attainment of any American of his generation.
In 1842, Dr. Smith, desirous of being nearer Boston and its libraries, moved to Newton, Massachusetts, as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Newton Center and editor of the Christian Review. Twelve years later, in 1854, he resigned his pastorate in order to become Editorial Secretary of the American Baptist Missionary Union, a position for which he was admirably equipped. During 1875 and 1880 he was abroad for considerable periods. His leisure hours were spent, not only in hymn writing, but also in the compilation of a ponderous History of Newton, covering nearly one thousand pages.
As he grew older, Dr. Smith became, like Holmes, a kind of established Boston institution. At the dinners of the class of 1829, these two men were prominent figures, and it was at one such anniversary that Holmes wrote of his classmate, in The Boys:
And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,---
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith,---
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,---
Just read on his medal,---"My Country," "of thee."
Dr. Smith himself had a vein of quiet humor which was shown on such occasions, and frequently displayed itself in reunion poems, only a little inferior to those of Holmes.
Dr. Holmes died in October, 1894, and Dr. Smith survived him only a few months, dying in 1895, at the age of eighty-seven. In his last years he still retained his physical vitality and intellectual vigor. Even his memory did not fail, and he kept the full possession of his faculties to the end. His home at Newton Center had become a place of literary pilgrimage, filled with relics of his travels. There he was accustomed to welcome his friends---a kindly old gentleman, with a homely countenance, fringed with whiskers like a Cape Cod fisherman---the embodiment of benignity and graciousness. Around him had grown up a family of six children---two girls and four boys---the youngest of whom, Edwin U. Smith, is the only one still living.
The chair, meanwhile, had traveled to Waterville, Maine, and from there back to Newton Center, where it had a conspicuous place in the Smith library. When the home was broken up at Dr. Smith's death, it was taken by one of the family to California. Now it has returned across the continent to find, we trust, a permanent resting place in the town where the famous hymn was written.
WHEN, in 1900, the preliminary ballot was taken for the national Hall of Fame, Samuel F. B. Morse was chosen as one of the thirty distinguished Americans to be there commemorated. Only one other Andover graduate---Oliver Wendell Holmes ---has been thus honored; and even Holmes had no such international reputation as was Morse's in his later years. William Cullen Bryant spoke nothing less than the truth when, in presenting a statue of Morse to New York City, he declared, "The great globe itself has become his monument."
Morse came from a fine Puritan and Calvinistic ancestry. His father, the Reverend Jedidiah Morse, graduated from Yale in the class of 1783, studied theology under Jonathan Edwards, and became "intensely orthodox." For more than thirty years he was pastor of the important First Church of Charlestown. In 1805 he established the Panoplist, a monthly theological magazine, and he was one of the little group who perfected the plans for Andover Seminary. His more enduring fame, however, came from his publication of the earliest American Geography and Gazetteer,---as a consequence of which he still survives in our history as the "Father of American Geography."
The Reverend Jedidiah Morse married Elizabeth Ann Breese, granddaughter of Samuel Finley, President of Princeton College, by whom he had eleven children, only three of whom survived infancy. Of these the eldest was Samuel. He and his two brothers attained the ages of 81, 77, and 73 respectively. Only the sturdiest could endure the privations of New England Puritanism, but those who did live had a vitality which it was not easy to destroy.
In 1795, Dr. Morse was made a Trustee of Phillips Academy, and it was natural that he should send his sons there as soon as they were equipped to enter. Samuel was driven to Andover at the age of eight and left in the care of Judge Phillips. His first letter, written August 2, 1799, reads as follows:
Dear Papa,---I hope you are well. I will thank you if you will Send me up Some quils Give my love to mama and Nancy and my little brothers pleas to kis them for me and send me up Some very good paper to write to you
I have as many blackberries as I want I go and pick them myself.
But it was hard for the sensitive child to adjust himself to Principal Newman's strict discipline, and at last he gathered courage to run away to his home in Charlestown. Even the stern father relented for a few months, but in 1802 he carried the boy back to Andover, this time accompanied by his younger brother, Sidney Edward. In estimating the characters of these two sons, Dr. Morse was accustomed to call Finley the "Hare" and Sidney the "Tortoise," but the prophecy of the old fable did not in their cases come true. In the following year a third son, Richard Cary, followed his brothers to Phillips Academy, and later they were graduated at Yale at successive Commencements. The strain upon the clergyman's purse while they were being educated was by no means inconsiderable.
Very little can be learned of Samuel's Andover life beyond the fact that he was once recorded as having made eight mistakes in spelling and having whispered eighteen times. His father's letters to him have the ethical strain so characteristic of the Massachusetts Calvinists. When the boy was not quite ten, Dr. Morse wrote him:
Your natural disposition, my dear son, renders it proper for me earnestly to recommend to you to attend to one thing at a time. It is impossible that you can do two things well at the same time, and I would, therefore, never have you attempt it. Never undertake to do what ought not to be done, and then, whatever you undertake, endeavor to do it in the best manner. .
I expect you will read this letter over several times that you may retain its contents in your memory, and give me your opinion on the advice I have given you. If you improve this well, I shall be encouraged to give you more as you may need it.
Pious admonition of this kind was part of the boy's daily mental and moral nourishment. Even at that early age he had absorbed much of the rigid Puritan doctrine---the doctrine of those serious, sincere, and austere men who founded Phillips Academy---and it remained the guiding principle of his career. It was not for nothing that his family motto was "Deo non armis fido."
Leaving philosophical and ethical theory to her husband, the mother was likely to offer advice of a practical nature. She warned her son to profit by the death of President Willard's boy, who had died of a fever brought on "by going into water when he was very hot in the middle of the day"; and, in the same letter, she dwelt on the unfortunate fate of a young lady only twenty years old in Boston, who "eat her dinner perfectly well and was dead in five minutes after."
You see, my dear boys, the great uncertainty of life, and, of course, the importance of being always prepared for death, even a sudden death, as we know not what an hour may bring forth.
From both his parents Samuel used to hear the maxim, "Better wear out than rust out," and he never forgot it.
In October, 1805, Samuel went by stagecoach to New Haven, where he matriculated at his father's college. Normally he would have graduated in 1809, but he seems to have dropped a year, finally taking his degree in 1810. His zealous parents were occasionally troubled about him, especially when he frankly showed a fondness for "gunning parties." His mother wrote him early in his Freshman year:
You mention in the letter you wrote first that, if you went into college, you and your chum would want brandy and wine and segars in your room. Pray is that the custom among the students? We think it a very improper one indeed, and hope the government of college will not permit it.
Those who like to look back to the "good old days" as to an "Age of Innocence" are recommended to study for a time conditions in our American colleges during the first-quarter of the nineteenth century. Morse, however, was no wastrel. His expenses, recorded in detail, for extras during one college term were fifteen dollars. Probably he had his adventures, for he wrote as a Sophomore:
I begin to know by experience that man is born to trouble, and that temptations to do evil are as countless as the stars, but I hope I shall be enabled to shun them.
It was in college that his interest in both painting and electricity first developed. He worked his way through Yale partly by painting, receiving five dollars for miniatures on ivory. "My price for profiles is one dollar," he wrote. Experiments conducted by Professor Benjamin Silliman and Professor Day in Chemistry and Galvanism gave him some insight into the wonders of electricity. On March 8, 1809, when he was eighteen years old, Morse wrote:
Mr. Day's lectures are very interesting. They are upon Electricity. He has given us some fine experiments. The whole class taking hold of hands formed the circuit of communication and we all received the shock apparently at the same moment. I never took an electric shock before. It felt as if some person had struck me a slight blow across the arms.
In a letter written in 1846, Morse traced back his researches "to their incipiency, in the lessons of my esteemed instructors in natural philosophy and in chemistry."
The full story of Morse's romantic career after graduating from Yale may be read in the excellent. two-volume biography by his son, Edward Lind Morse (1914). Broadly speaking, it divides itself logically into two distinct parts or halves: one, in which he was devoted to painting; another, in which his interest in scientific invention overcame his inclination towards art. In each of these two fields he was successful, but the importance of the telegraph has obscured his earlier achievement as one of the most original and enterprising of American artists.
When Samuel returned from Yale, his father, who had his own ambitions for his son, apprenticed him to a Boston book-seller, but the boy spent all his spare hours in drawing. Seeing that the youth was quite indifferent to trade, Dr. Morse finally relented and, at great pecuniary sacrifice, allowed him to sail for England with Washington Aliston. In London, Samuel was able to study under Benjamin West, the American artist who had risen to be President of the Royal Academy. Here he remained throughout the war with England, evidently undisturbed by the British. Indeed his statue of the "Dying Hercules" won him the gold medal of the Adelphi Society, and his colossal painting of the same subject aroused much attention at the Academy Exhibition in 1813. When, because his funds were exhausted, he was obliged to return to the United States in the autumn of 1815, he had acquired a considerable prestige in artistic circles.
Compelled to earn his living by the brush, he soon learned that no one in the United States wanted historical canvases; so he turned to portraiture. He tells us that at Concord, New Hampshire, in 1816, he painted five portraits in eight days, at fifteen dollars each. On the same trip he fell in love with Lucretia Pickering Walker, a girl of sixteen. After some months of successful portrait painting, in the course of which his price rose gradually from fifteen to sixty dollars, he was married, October 6, 1818, at Miss Walker's New Hampshire home.
The young Morses found pleasant surroundings for a time in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was hospitably received and completed more than sixty portraits, including one of President Monroe, ordered by the Common Council of the city. In 1823, looking for a wider field, he moved to New York, where he founded the National Academy of Design and was elected its first President. While he was working at a portrait of Lafayette for the city of New York in 1825, his wife died suddenly, leaving him with three motherless children. The blow was a terrible one, from which it took him long even partly to recover. Fourteen years after she had been buried in New Haven he wrote his brother Sidney:
My dear brother, may you never feel, as I have felt, the loss of a wife. That wound bleeds afresh daily, as if it were inflicted but yesterday.
The death of his father, in 1826, and of his mother two years later left him still more alone. Seeking relief from trouble, he persuaded relatives to take care of his children and sailed for Europe, where he spent three years traveling and studying art.
But the height of his career as an artist had been reached. Even before he departed for Europe his interest in electricity had been revived through some lectures on the subject by Professor James F. Dana, of Columbia College. His was naturally a prospective mind, accustomed to deal in futurities; and, while he was studying in the galleries of Paris and London, he was also speculating on the uses of electrical power.
His great discovery came as a sudden inspiration. In October, 1832, he sailed from Havre on board the packet-ship Sully. Another passenger was Dr. Charles T. Jackson, of Boston, who, at dinner one evening, pointed out the fact that electricity passed instantaneously through any length of wire and that it could be observed at any point by simply breaking the circuit. Morse replied, "If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be transmitted instantaneously by electricity." For hours afterward he paced the deck meditating on this thought. Before the boat docked in New York, he had devised the principle of "signs for letters" and had evolved the rough plan of the receiving magnet. From the moment he met his brothers, he could hardly speak on any other subject. Forty years later he spoke of the telegraph as "an invention which, cradled upon the ocean, had its birth in an American ship."
After this date, Morse's chief endeavor was to perfect the telegraph, but twelve lean years passed by before he could offer a convincing demonstration. His first model of a receiving instrument was completed by 1835; and an appointment in the same year as Professor of the Arts of Design in the University of the City of New York gave him a small salary which was decidedly welcome. He had hoped to be one of the four artists commissioned to execute the huge panels in the rotunda of the national capitol, but he inadvertently incurred the enmity of Congressman John Quincy Adams, and the opportunity was lost.
Morse's next few years were indeed critical ones, in which he struggled with an indomitable will against discouraging conditions. In 1837 he filed his application for a patent and took Alfred Vail as a partner in his enterprise. But he had almost no money. He wrote in 1842:
To avoid debt (which I will never incur) I have been compelled to make with my own hands a great part of my machinery, but at an expense of time of very serious consideration to me. I have executed in six months what a good machinist, if I had the means to employ him, would have performed in as many weeks, and performed much better.
He sometimes had no funds to spend for food, and he once told a friend who invited him to dinner---"This is my first meal for twenty-four hours." Finally, in 1843, a bill came before Congress appropriating the sum of $30,000 for building an experimental telegraph line. It was treated by many representatives with flippancy, an amendment being proposed giving half the money to work in mesmerism. The measure passed the House on February 23, but lingered in the Senate. Morse again wrote:
My means to defray my expenses, to meet which every cent I owned in the world was collected, are nearly all gone, and if, by any means, the bill should fail in the Senate, I shall return to New York with the fraction of a dollar in my pocket.
On the last evening of the session (March 3) he sat in the Senate chamber, but, seeing no hope for the bill, went to his room and retired to sleep. In the morning, however, he was greeted in the breakfast-room by Miss Annie Ellsworth, who came to congratulate him in the name of her father, the Commissioner of Patents. It seems that the measure had passed without a division and had been regularly signed by President Tyler. At last he could see blue sky ahead.
The story of the next fourteen months is familiar to every schoolboy. It was decided to construct the first line between Washington and Baltimore, a distance of forty-three miles. The sinking of the wires in trenches having proved unsatisfactory, Morse determined to raise them on poles. He wrote in January, 1844:
I am working to retrieve myself under every disadvantage and amidst accumulated and most diversified trials, but I have strength from the source of strength, and courage to go forward.
At last, on May 24, the labor was completed, and the friends of the inventor gathered in the Supreme Court chamber to watch the final demonstration. Miss Ellsworth, invited to indite the first public message, chose the words, "What hath God wrought!" from Numbers xxiii. 23. Morse himself, seated at the instrument, sent this sentence to Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, who at once flashed it back without an error. Two days later the news of the nomination of James Knox Polk as Democratic candidate for the Presidency was received in Washington by telegraph hours before the arrival of the regular mail. The utility of the invention could not have been more effectively demonstrated.
Thus, at the age of fifty-three, Morse saw his dream come true. But he had no false pride. He wrote to his brother Sidney:
I do indeed feel gratified, and it is right I should rejoice, but I rejoice with fear, and I desire that a sense of dependence upon and increased obligation to the Giver of every good and perfect gift may keep me humble and circumspect.
The remainder of his long life is, in spite of some irritating incidents, a story of national and international honors, financial prosperity, and "port after stormy seas." His offer of his invention to the government for $100,000 was rejected, but private companies were soon constructing lines all over the East. By 1862, there were at least 150,000 miles of telegraph in operation. Enemies tried to deprive him of his rights in the invention, but Morse fought them valiantly through the lower courts; and in 1854 the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous verdict in his favor. Ultimately he received large royalties for the telegraph, and he died a rich man.
Yale University, in 1848, made him a Doctor of Laws. Foreign nations hastened to honor his achievement, one of the first being Turkey, which sent him the "Nichan Iftikar" or "Order of Glory." He was awarded decorations of a similar character by virtually every European potentate. In 1858, Napoleon III called a convention of states to decide on some form of testimonial, as a consequence of which he was voted the sum of four hundred thousand francs---one-third of which, however, went to Morse's agent, M. van den Brock, as his commission. No American has ever been the recipient of a larger number of honors from foreign governments.
In 1848, Morse married for the second time, his bride being Sarah Elizabeth Griswold, who was the first cousin of his son's wife. He settled in Poughkeepsie, on an estate called Locust Grove, near the Hudson River. Here another family grew up around him, and he enjoyed an Indian summer of domestic peace and happiness. During the winter he usually moved to New York, where he was much in society, especially among scientists and artists.
Morse was fortunate in living to see a dramatic recognition of his achievement. Very few men have had statues erected to them while they were still alive; yet this was Morse's destiny. On June 10, 1871, when the great inventor had passed his eightieth birthday, a bronze statue, paid for largely by contributions from telegraphers all over the country, was erected in Central Park. The man who, thirty years before, had been in dire poverty and despairing that his invention could ever be put into operation, was now the idol of his compatriots.
The venerable scientist's modesty would not allow him to be present at the unveiling; but on that same evening at the Academy of Music, telegraph lines all over the world were cleared so that his personal message could be sent out to thousands of waiting operators,---"Greeting and thanks to the telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will to men." Then he himself, stepping to the instrument table, spelled out the letters of his own name. The demonstration which followed was so remarkable that Morse was overcome by his emotions and sat with his head buried in his hands, unable to face the scene. Before the evening was over, answers had been relayed back from the far corners of the earth.
This remarkable tribute came in season, for Morse's days were almost over. The celebration left him tired, "in a good-for-nothing condition." He made his last public appearance on January 17, 1872, in order to join with Horace Greeley in unveiling the statue of Franklin in Printing House Square. A short period of depression ensued, culminating in pneumonia; and he died quite peacefully, April 2, 1872. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, beside his two brothers who had been so dear to him.
Morse was a man of large stature and powerful physique. He had regular features, which made him stand out in a crowd. In his latter days he wore a flowing beard and long hair which aroused attention wherever he went. He had always a dignified bearing, and he did not stoop even when he had passed his eightieth birthday. The portrait given to Phillips Academy at the first dinner of the Boston Alumni in 1886 shows him with all his decorations, and he looks like some Viking hero.
The Puritan strain in Morse, inherited from his ancestors, and fostered by parental care, never weakened, and he maintained an almost childlike faith in divine power. His correspondence is full of passages indicating that he never ceased to believe himself to be, whether as a painter or an inventor, merely the instrument of God's will on earth. This confidence undoubtedly helped him to bear trouble patiently. At a moment when he was being assailed by enemies, he wrote:
I look not for freedom from trials; they must needs be; but the number, the kind, the form, the degree of them, I can safely leave to Him who has ordered and will still order all things well.
Less than a year before his death, he wrote his daughter:
When I review my past life and see the way in which I have been led, I am so convinced of the faithfulness of God in answer to the prayers of faith, which I have been enabled in times of trial to offer to him, that I find the temper of my mind is to constant praise.
Perhaps Morse's noblest characteristic was his persistence in defying opposition. While he was fighting to get a public test for his invention, his associates often lost, hope; but he never did. He rarely complained or protested, but simply kept on his way, sure that things would come right in "God's good time." He had many enemies, who tried to deprive him of the credit which was morally and legally his, but he bore them no malice. He seems always to have kept his self-control, even when he could not have been blamed for an outbreak. His progress was accomplished, not by noisy aggressiveness, but by quiet, steady plodding. With such a will and disposition, he must have succeeded in any enterprise; and to these qualities he joined a high degree of intelligence and tact.
In politics, Morse was a consistent Democrat, and ran for Congress on that ticket unsuccessfully in 1851.
He believed that slavery was a social condition, not a sin per se, and he repeatedly denounced what he called the "twin heresies"---abolitionism and secession. On this subject he wrote:
I believe that you and I would be considered in New England as real heretics, for, I confess, the more I study the subject, the more I feel compelled to declare myself on the Southern side of the question.
He earned some opprobrium among his friends by denouncing Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and voting for McClellan in 1864.
In his private life Morse was above reproach. Wherever he had his home, he gathered around him devoted companions, and his children found in him an affectionate father. The evidence of his Poughkeepsie pastor represents accurately the opinion of those who knew him:
In his family he was light, life, and love; with those in his employ he was ever considerate and kind, never exacting and harsh, but honorable and just, seeking the good of every dependent; in the community he was a pillar of strength and beauty, commanding the homage of universal respect; in the church he walked with God and men.
Morse was a man of many talents. His inventive mind moved in other channels besides the telegraph. He was associated with John W. Draper in taking the first daguerreotypes in the United States. He patented a marble-cutting machine. A walk across the bridge from Charlestown to Boston tempted him to study the mystery of the sea-gulls' flight. Always he was planning for new developments in scientific discovery.
Above all, however, it is the telegraph which perpetuates his name. We admire his faith, his energy, his intense intellectual activity, his skill as a painter, his tolerant and kindly spirit---but it is his invention of the telegraph which places him beside Newton, Darwin, and Franklin, among the exalted geniuses of the world.
NOT every New England boy who attended Phillips Academy during its formative period, or even later, reacted favorably to its Spartan methods of developing character. Sensitive souls sometimes remembered and resented its rigorous discipline, and consequently did not always speak of it with affection. Oliver Wendell Holmes, of the class of 1825, was of this type. Even to the end of his long life, he had disconcerting memories of his school days on Andover Hill. Furthermore his religious evolution caused him, as he advanced in age, to dislike more and more the Calvinistic theology which, in his childhood, had dominated Phillips Academy as well as Andover Theological Seminary. As a result, Holmes was always of two minds about Andover: his personal experience there had not been altogether pleasurable, but he remained fond of its traditions and grew increasingly proud of the prestige which it gained in the late nineteenth century.
There were circumstances which made it inevitable that Holmes should be sent to Andover. His mother's father, Oliver Wendell (1733-1818), a member of the Governor's Council, was not only one of the original members of the Phillips Board of Trustees but also Treasurer of the Academy for eight years, from 1795 to 1803. Oliver's father, Abiel Holmes, a Yale man and pastor of the First Church in Cambridge for forty years, was elected a Trustee of Phillips Academy in 1809 (the year in which Oliver was born) and served in that capacity until his death in 1827. The family's Andover connections were, therefore, intimate. Oliver had driven there with his father to the annual Exhibitions; he had seen Dr. Pearson and Principal Adams and many of the Phillips family; and he had accepted uncomplainingly the decision that he was some day to be enrolled in Phillips Academy as a student.
The Reverend Abiel Holmes was unmistakably a Calvinist of unblemished orthodoxy and established convictions; but his wife, Sarah Wendell, had a more liberal theology, which was evidently not without its influence on Oliver. Later Holmes wrote:
We learned nominally that we were a set of little fallen wretches, exposed to the wrath of God by the fact of that existence which we could not help . . . I was given to questionings, and my mind early revolted from the teachings of the Catechism and the books which followed out its dogmas.
Mrs. Holmes, whose associations had always been with Unitarian Cambridge, took good care, without absolutely disobeying her husband, to make sure that the harsh doctrines of his inflexible creed were modified for her children. The Reverend Abiel Holmes would doubtless have been pleased if his son could have become a clergyman; and the boy himself later admitted that he might have entered the ministry if a certain preacher "had not looked and talked so like an undertaker."
Born in Cambridge, in the midst of a collegiate atmosphere, Holmes was early sent to a Dame's School and then to a teacher in Cambridgeport. He was fifteen when, in the autumn of 1824, he was driven to Andover for a final year of preparation before entering Harvard. Holmes's description of his arrival at the Academy is both amusing and pathetic:
It was a shallow, two-story white house before which we stopped, just at the entrance of the central village, the residence of a very worthy professor in the theological seminary---learned, amiable, exemplary, but thought by certain experts to be a little questionable in the matter of homoosianism, or some such doctrine. There was a great rock that showed its round back in the narrow front yard. It looked cold and hard; but it hinted firmness and indifference to the sentiments fast struggling to get uppermost in my youthful bosom;, for I was not too old for homesickness,---who is? The carriage and my fond companions had to leave me at last. I saw it go down the declivity that sloped southward, then climb the next ascent, then sink gradually until the window in the back of it disappeared like an eye that shuts, and leaves the world dark to some widowed heart.
This house, the boy's home while he was in Andover, was then the residence of the stately Professor James Murdock, professor of sacred rhetoric in Andover Theological Seminary. It still stands on Andover Hill where it is occupied to-day by Mr. James C. Sawyer.
Holmes's account of his experiences in Andover, printed in a charming essay called "Cinders from the Ashes," gives a faithful picture of the school under Principal John Adams---whom, by the way, Holmes detested and therefore ignored. Not everything on the "sacred hill" impressed him favorably. The new Bulfinch Academy Building---still in use to-day as the Dining Hall---to him had a "dreary look" and seemed "bare and uninteresting." His companions must, however, have offered some diversion. His roommate, a "sober-faced boy of minute dimensions," once administered to him a dose of "Indian pills," which nearly knocked him out of time into eternity and inspired his landlady to say that he would never look any whiter even when he was laid out as a corpse. Next to him on the school-room bench was a ferocious youngster "with a fuliginous complexion, a dilating and whitened nostril, and a singularly malignant scowl," who found a stimulating occupation in kicking Oliver's shins with all his might under the desk and who later quite logically ended his days in a madhouse. Holmes used to watch expectantly one of his instructors, who had been warned in a dream that he would drop dead while praying, to see when this fate would descend upon him---half hopeful that the grim catastrophe might occur while he was there to see.
Corporal punishment was not uncommon in Phillips Academy in those days, and Master Adams was no gentle disciplinarian. Nor did his assistant, Jonathan Clement, believe in "sparing the rod." It was at Clement's hands that Holmes, for some trivial offense, received a whipping which caused some pain but made also a deep impression on his susceptible mind. He said of this tragic experience:
I was subjected to the severest castigation known, I believe, in the annals of punishment in that institution, such as made a sensation among all the delicate females of the vicinity, and caused young men to utter violent threats, and was, in fact, almost the occasion of a riot. It was an unfortunate display of temper on the part of one of the instructors.
Long, long afterward, when both were old men, Clement called on Holmes and apologized for the chastisement which he had inflicted.
But there were some forms of harmless recreation, even on "Brimstone Hill." It is true that one excellent lady had the habit of asking students to her house on Saturday afternoons for a session of prayer; but Holmes evidently employed his weekly holiday in more mundane pursuits. The little Shawsheen, as he said, was his swimming-school, and he took pleasant walks along the wooded slope of Indian Ridge. With his companions he played a kind of embryonic and unorganized baseball and football. He joined the Social Fraternity, the dread secrets of which he was "under a lifelong obligation never to reveal." He took part in public speaking and debating; he delivered at the Exhibition of 1825 a treatise on "Fancy," which was apparently well received. He actually wrote some verses, including a translation from the Aeneid, two of the lines of which he liked to quote as an early example of "cockney rhyme:"
Thus by the power of Jove's imperial arm
The boiling ocean trembled into calm.
His one year at Phillips Academy over, Holmes slipped easily into Harvard, where he became a member of the "famous class of 1829," several of whom, like himself, were later to become famous---Benjamin R. Curtis, afterwards Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, James Freeman Clarke, Samuel F. Smith (author of "America"), Samuel May, the "gentle abolitionist," and others. Holmes's college career was evidently more gay than studious. He himself wrote:
Wine was very freely drunk in those days, without fear and without reproach from the pulpit or the platform. I remember on the occasion of my having an "Exhibition" that, with the consent of my parents, I laid in a considerable stock, and that my room was for several days the seat of continuous revelry; but we must remember what an immense change opinion has undergone since my time in regard to the use of alcoholic stimulants.
At any rate his only distinctions at Harvard were of a literary kind, such as poems written for college publications or read at the Commencement exercises. He wrote his friend Phineas Barnes:
I am not dissipated and I am not sedate, and when I last ascertained my college rank I stood in the humble situation of seventeenth scholar.
Occasionally he returned to Andover, usually at the time of the annual Exhibitions, and his impressions were not always favorable. On October 23, 1828, he wrote Barnes:
I have been to the delectable town of Andover and witnessed their last Exhibition, and I will tell you what I saw. Imprimis, I saw children in petticoats running to and from Phillips Academy . . . Next I saw old John Adams in his blue surtout, and Clement in his old cloak, like "a shirt on a handspike" . . . As for hearing, I heard the Academy bell, and I went to the Exhibition and heard the boys speak, and then I heard some most execrable singing and fiddling, and then a long prosing address from Dr. Dana.
In December, 1828, he again wrote Barnes:
I have heard nothing of the Social Fraternity, but I should imagine that it could not be well supported by a parcel of overgrown lubberly rustics and a flock of unweaned bantlings, who now constitute the greatest part of Phillips Acad. In my own opinion Adams is one of the most bigoted, narrow-minded, uncivilized old brutes that ever had the honor of licking into shape the minds of two such promising youths as P. B. and O. W. H.
They are going to have a High School for girls at Andover. What a pity it was not instituted when we were there; there are very pretty walks and very shady groves in the place.
Probably these criticisms should not be taken too seriously, but accepted as symptomatic of a sophomoric habit of mind which Holmes was later in due season to outgrow.
Hesitating in his choice of a profession, Holmes spent an unprofitable year in Harvard Law School, during which his only distinction came from the publication of his impassioned poem "Old Ironsides," which was reprinted all over the country and actually saved the frigate Constitution from being broken up. Then he turned to medicine, studying under Dr. James Jackson; and in 1833, his devoted parents, by dint of great economy, managed to gather funds sufficient to send him to Europe, where he did some intensive research work under eminent Paris surgeons. On his return in December, 1835, he hung out his sign as a practising physician, with the motto "the smallest fevers thankfully received." In the same year he published his first volume of poetry, a little collection which included, among others, the immortal "Last Leaf."
Holmes was never a prominent physician, nor did he care much about bedside practice. Preferring, as he did, the academic side of medicine, he was elated at his appointment in 1847 as Parkman Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Harvard. There he remained for thirty-five years, earning a reputation for accuracy, patience, and thoroughness as well as originality and humor. He was an early microscopist, and brought a lens back with him from Europe. At least one essay of his-- -that "On the Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever"---was an original and significant contribution to medical science.
Holmes's success in his chosen profession, however, was to be completely over-shadowed by his work in literature. In a sense he was always writing verses; indeed his very facility and fluency may have kept him from reaching the very highest position. But he did win a place as perhaps our finest writer of familiar verse, or vers de société. In such masterpieces as "Dorothy Q.," "Bill and Joe," and "To an Insect," he is fully the equal of Praed, Locker-Lampson, and Austin Dobson. It was, in fact, Locker-Lampson himself who, in 1867, declared that Holmes was the best living writer of society verse---a very flattering compliment for the American. Holmes's talent was not allowed to lie idle. He was constantly being called upon for what were then termed "effusions"; he sent for many years a poem to be read at the reunion of his college class; and no important gathering in Boston or vicinity was considered successful without some lines from Holmes's untiring pen.
It was not, however, until he was nearly fifty that he took an assured position as a literary personage. When Lowell, in 1857, started The Atlantic Monthly, it was with the express stipulation that Holmes should become a contributor. The immediate result was the publication in that periodical of The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, of all American books perhaps the most truly representative of New England tastes and traditions. The gentleness, the urbanity, the tolerance, and the wit of these essays aroused attention at once. They were the mature expression of a rich and friendly personality, who was interested in everything in the world, including horse racing, meerschaum pipes, old trees, and ancient legends. Other volumes followed, of a similar discursive, chatty kind---The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860), The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1872), and Over the Teacups (1890)---each one filled with contagious humor and sanguine philosophy. He even tried his hand at the novel and published three stories---Elsie Venner (1861), The Guardian Angel (1867), and A Mortal Antipathy (1885)---but these are little more than discursive essays, held together by the slenderest of plots.
Holmes wrote much as he talked, and he was regarded as one of the great talkers of his generation. At the famous Saturday Club, the members of which dined at Parker's Hotel on the last Saturday of each month, Holmes was usually the most brilliant guest, even in the company of such men as Lowell, Emerson, Agassiz, and Longfellow. "Talking," he said, "is one of the fine arts---the noblest, the most important, and the most difficult." Like Dr. Johnson, he loved nothing better than to stretch his legs and have his chat out; but, unlike the Great Lexicographer, he never injured anyone's feelings or tried to dominate the assembly. And he was the least formal, the least affected, the most spontaneous of men.
So far as his religious opinions were concerned, Holmes grew broader and more tolerant as he entered the shadow of old age. He loved to discuss theological questions, but he hated the cruel creed which he had been taught in his impressionable years. A belief which sent to eternal damnation all those who had been born before Jesus came into the world seemed to him preposterous, and he did not hesitate to say so. Dr. Holmes was sometimes criticized by narrow-minded bigots as an infidel, when he was in reality the kindliest and most humane of people. If he called theology diabology, it was because he was profoundly disgusted by the doctrines of New England Calvinism. Actually he was reverent and sincerely devout, although not always in a rigidly orthodox way.
So his life went on, placid and undisturbed, happy as few lives can be. He was married in 1840 to Amelia Lee Jackson, daughter of Judge Jackson of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Devoted to her husband and rejoicing in his achievements, she has gained the praise of his biographers for being an "ideal wife." Certainly she made Holmes very much contented. He was never in the main path of public controversies, not even the struggle over slavery; he was not of a temperament to be swept by stormy passions or racked by intense sorrow; he had few anxieties, financial or professional, to trouble his mind; and he was too sensible to let himself over-work. Recognition and affection came to him almost without an effort, and in his old age he became a venerable figure of whom Boston and New England were very proud. One by one his friends and associates passed from the scene, until he was almost alone among his generation, but he still remained cheerful. It was not in his nature to mourn over-much about the past or trouble greatly about the future. In 1886, when he was seventy-seven years old, he made a voyage to England, where he was everywhere lionized and was awarded degrees by Oxford, Edinburgh, and Cambridge.
Death came slowly, but probably gratefully. Body and mind gradually lost their accustomed vigor, and at last he died painlessly, while sitting at his window, at the ripe age of eighty-five. Everywhere he was mourned, not merely because of his literary importance but because of his personality. It was recognized that a kindly, sympathetic, noble soul had left this earth.
When Phillips Academy was planning for its centenary celebration in 1878, Dr. Bancroft's thoughts turned naturally to the school's most distinguished living graduate, Oliver Wendell Holmes, to whom he wrote inviting him to be present as a guest and read a poem. The Autocrat's interest in Andover had been revived by a journey which he had taken there in 1867 and which he had described delightfully in a reminiscent essay. Once again, then, he took a pilgrimage over the route on which he had driven more than half a century before; and there, in the great pavilion which had been spread on the Training Field, he recited his poem "The School Boy" in which he rambled discursively about his early days on the Hill.
How all comes back! The upward-slanting floor,
The masters' thrones that flank the central door,
The long outstretching alleys that divide
The rows of desks that stand on either side.
The staring boys, a face to every desk,
Bright, dull, pale, blooming, common, picturesque.
Grave is the Master's look, his forehead wears
Thick rows of wrinkles, prints of worrying cares.
Uneasy lie the heads of all that rule,
He most of all whose kingdom is a school.
There are two hymns by Oliver Wendell Holmes which are for most alumni inseparably connected with the school. One is the noble poem which, throughout the period of the World War, seemed best to typify the Andover tradition as exemplified in her sons.
Wake in our breasts the living fires,
The holy faith that warmed our sires;
Thy hand hath made our nation free;
To die for her is serving thee.
The other, no less inspiring, is now regularly sung as part of the Exhibition program in Commencement Week:
Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near.
Hearing these stirring words, one can well imagine that the author's spirit hovers about the Hill where he used to walk, and one can understand what Holmes meant when he wrote in 1867:
I believe the boy-shadow still lingers around the well-remembered scenes I traversed on that day, and that, whenever I revisit them, I shall find him again as my companion.