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ENOCH CURTIN. 1794-1842.
Mr. Curtin was born at Lynn on the 25th of July, 1794, and was a son of John Curtin. His education was not beyond that afforded by the common schools of his time. And he contentedly pursued the humble occupation of a shoemaker. But he was a man of far more than ordinary ability. Mr. Lewis, who knew him well, says, "He was a man of estimable qualities, and possessed great poetical talent. He had a very happy faculty for the production of odes and songs adapted to particular occasions. His mind was intellectual, refined, and noble, and he was widely esteemed and beloved." In 1816, he married Sally Ireson, by whom he had seven children; and he died on the 28th of May, 1842, at the age of forty-seven.
Mr. Curtin furnishes a striking example of unasserted talents. There is little doubt that nature bestowed on him powers, which, had they been fully developed and cultivated, would have made him eminent as a poet. He appears to have felt assured of this, but had not sufficient ambition to overcome a natural repugnance to that earnest and persistent intellectual labor by which alone one can become eminent as a writer. And in his grave, perhaps rests another "mute, inglorious Milton." In his sequestered walk as a humble mechanic, however, with his contemplative rather than laboring mind, he may have enjoyed more than he could have enjoyed through the ringing plaudits of a hollow hearted world. But can any one fulfill his duty to his fellow men while allowing talents which might benefit them to remain unimproved? And is it not selfishness to prefer a pleasurable ease to a putting forth of those exertions which would enhance the enjoyment of others?
As Mr. Lewis remarks, Mr. Curtin possessed a very happy faculty for composing odes and occasional pieces. His style was stirring and eloquent - just what is required in such compositions. His pen was in requisition for a contribution for almost every sort of celebration and dedication; and the newsboy confidently expected a glowing address for his patrons at new year's time. If he could have disciplined himself so as to bestow a little more labor on what might be called the finish of his pieces, eliminating redundances, easing off occasional rough turns, rectifying an imperfect image here and there, he would, on a final perusal, have been better satisfied with his productions, and they would have gone forth with a stronger recommendation to the discriminating reader. In consequence of this want of care and exactness in expressing himself, his full meaning does not always at once appear; and hence to the inattentive reader much may be lost. There is a wide difference between him and Miss Fuller, in these respects, as the reader will at once perceive. Their general styles, too, are marked by all the differences that characterize the opposite sexes; hers is feminine and smoothly flowing, his masculine and often abrupt. But I hardly know who would place one below the other as a favorite of the Muses.
As a writer to be read in times not his own, Mr. Curtin labored under a disadvantage. His pieces were commonly written with reference to particular occasions or localities and were apt to contain expressions which could not be fully understood, under other circumstances. He wrote rapidly, generally on the spur of the occasion, and in accordance with some special solicitation which his generosity would not suffer him to decline; he wrote, too, without expectation of pecuniary reward; and his uniform success establishes the fact of an active and trustworthy genius; which is certainly to be preferred to one of the pyrotechnic order, however brilliant or startling an occasional scintillation may be. He was unassuming, and I apprehend would have been undisturbed by criticism, as he might defiantly exclaim, in the language of Wordsworth,
The moving accident is not my trade.
Most writers in verse who have not had considerable experience nor been subjected to the shocks of criticism - and many, indeed, who have - injure their composition by straining after the ornamental and disdaining the natural. But it seems to me that Mr. Curtin, and Miss Fuller, were both singularly free from such an unfortunate habit. And as every one has a love for the natural, they will never cease to have admirers. Their styles were very different, and so were their themes; and it is strong evidence of their appreciation of their own powers that with each, theme and style were so well adapted to each other.
Mr. Curtin did not confine himself to poetry, by any means. He wrote a great many excellent prose articles; some of an imaginative character, and others on the sober realities of life. And his pen was not unfrequently exercised on political subjects. He could be caustic if he chose, but was dignified, and seldom trespassed on the strict rules of courtesy. A couple of specimens of his poetry follow.
SOUND FREEDOM'S TRUMP !
An Ode sung at the Celebration of Independence, in Lynn, July 4, 1831.]
Sound Freedom's Trump! The day returns,
The day that gave our Nation birth!
The fire upon our altar burns,
Whose sacred incense fills the earth.
Let crumbling crowns to dust retire,
While Liberty's eternal fire,
O'er tottering thrones sheds its bright ray,
And round the earth in triumph rolls,
A halo of immortal day,
Whose arch of glory lights the Poles
Sound Freedom's Trump! Let each glad voice
Join the fill chorus of delight!
This day at Freedom's shrine rejoice,
While Europe's minions sleep in night!
Despots shall mourn their regal birth,
And sceptres vanish from the earth!
Let mitres in obedience nod,
Be Tyranny in ruin hurled,
And Liberty proclaim her God,
While Freedom's Trump shall wake the world!
Sound Freedom's Trump, o'er hill and dale!
Throughout Columbia's vast domain
Let songs of joy and mirth prevail,
And each glad voice repeat the strain.
No tyrant foot shall tread the soil,
Our fathers bought with blood and toil!
Firm as the rocks upon our strand,
To guard the right by freedom given,
Columbia's hardy sons shall stand,
A fearless host - the pride of Heaven!
Sound Freedom's Trump! Awake! Arise!
And bid the thundering cannon's roar
Swell in loud peans to the skies,
And fill the earth from shore to shore!
Gallia and Grecia shall be free!
And Poland shouts for liberty!
On pinions of immortal fame,
The sacred flame each clime shall bound;
Then, while Columbia holds a name,
Let holy Freedom's Trumpet sound!
Addressed to a young lady of Marblehead, on the death of her brother, who died at Batavia, in the island of Java, and was buried on a small island, about half a league fiom Batavia. In digging his grave a considerable quantity of curious marine shells, of beautiful variety, were found embedded about four feet from the surface of the earth, a number of which were preserved and brought to this country, one of them being presented to the author. Written in 1830.
Be hushed thy sighs! Oh, weep not for the dead,
Who sweetly sleeps within his coral bed;
Oh, cease to chide the swelling waves that bore
A loving brother from his native shore
For the trumpet shall sound
And the dead shall arise,
To inherit a crown
From the King of the skies.
No more the storm shall gather round his head,
No more the foaming waves their crests shall rear,
To shatter his frail bark - no more the lead
Shall tell of rocks, and shoals, and quicksands near.
For behold to unite
In the sweet promise given,
He has taken his flight
To the mansions of Heaven.
Oft has he braved the perils of the deep,
And heard the rude winds whistle through the shrouds.
Oft has he strove his little bark to keep
Safe from the fury of the gathering clouds.
But the clouds have passed o'er,
And the winds are at rest;
He now dwells secure
In the realms of the blest.
Far in the palm trees' shade his bed is found,
Where Indian summers yield eternal bloom;
Where spicy groves spread their rich foliage round,
And shed their fragrance o'er his early tomb.
Where the lote shall wave,
And the cypress shall twine,
Till the mariner's grave
Shall its treasure resign.
What though no storied urn points out the spot,
Or marble marks his last retreat from care;
What though no stone records his early lot,
Or tells - "The ship-wreck'd mariner lies there."
Yet to his sad pile
Shall the murmuring surge,
As it sweeps round the isle,
Sing the young sailor's dirge.
Then weep no more! Oh hush those sighs of thine;
For could thy tears recall him from that shore,
Where his blest spirit lives in bliss divine,
Methinks, young friend, that thou would'st weep no more.
Then trust in that arm,
Whose chastening rod
Will shield thee from harm -
'Tis the power of' God.
JOSIAH NEWHALL. 1790-1842.
Mr. Newhall was a highly respected and useful citizen, and for many years continued to fill the most responsible offices in the town. He was a Representative for several terms, and a Senator in 1832 and '33. He was one of our largest shoe manufacturers, for years, and in all his business relations secured the utmost confidence of those with whom he dealt. His residence and place of business were at the east end of the Common. In manners he was dignified and courteous; and he was excelled by none for integrity of character and purity of life. For many years he was a prominent member of the Methodist connection, and active in benevolent enterprises.
He was born at Lynn, on the 7th of January, 1790, and was a descendant from Thomas Newhall, the first person of European parentage born in Lynn. He was twice married. His first wife was Lydia Johnson, to whom he was united on the 19th of March, 1811, and by whom he had four children - Robert, who died in infancy; Elizabeth; Martha, who died in infancy; and Harrison. His second wife was Clarissa Martin, whom he married in 1832, and by whom he had two children - Charles M., who died in childhood, and Josiah H., who is now a Methodist minister.
Mr. Newhall died on the 7th of November. 1842.
EDWARD LUMMUS COFFIN. 1794-1845.
Dr. Coffin was the third son of Dr. Aaron Lummus, and a brother of Charles F. Lummus, a biographical sketch of whom has been given. His name was changed to Coffin, which was the family name on the maternal side, chiefly because his father and elder brother, John, were at the time practising physicians here and confusion was liable to occur. He was born in Lynn, on the 14th of December, 1794, graduated at Harvard, and studied medicine under Dr. Shurtleff, of Boston. He was twice married. His first wife was Mary Rhodes, whom he married in 1823, and by whom he had one child, named Edward Everett, who died in infancy. His second wife was Frances Cutler, of Cambridge, by whom he had two children - Mary F. and Edward C. He died at his residence, on Market street, on the 31st of March, 1845, at the age of fifty, after a painful sickness of more than two years.
Dr. Coffin was a highly esteemed citizen; skillful in his profession, liberal in his views, of generous disposition and affable manners. He was active in the cause of popular education and the general diffusion of intelligence; was much interested in the common schools, in lectures, and scientific discussions. And he was not apt to denounce a new thing, without examination, because others decried it as a humbug. I remember when the first lecturer on animal magnetism came to town and discoursed in the old Town Hall, with what fairness he joined thumbs with him, and how patiently he sat under the manipulations, entirely undisturbed by the merriment of those in whose minds the whole thing was forestalled as an imposition. He was not one of the many who are so excessively timid, through fear of compromising their dignity, that they suffer the best opportunities for improvement to slip by unemployed. His labors on the school committee, in conjunction with those of Rev. Mr. Rockwood, who was likewise an ardent friend of education, were highly appreciated. And their unity of purpose, in this respect, did much toward creating a lasting friendship between them; though on one important matter their views were essentially different - the Doctor being a decided Unitarian and Mr. Rockwood a high Calvinist.
He possessed a vein of humor which would sometimes assert itself in a most pleasing manner; but he did not suffer it to override his dignity. Men who fancy themselves wits, and set themselves up as such, are prone to obtrude their smart saying as well out of season as in season, greatly to the annoyance of others and their own discredit. But the occasional sallies of a genuine and unostentatious humorist, are like placid rays of sunshine in the world's dull routine. Nor was the Doctor without ability as a versifier, his productions being usually of a playful character. His pieces were evidently unstudied; but they bear unmistakable evidence of a trained mind and lively sensibilities. The following appears in the form of a receipted bill, dated December 29, 1827, and was sent to a townsman into whose family he had been professionally called during the year. His charges were certainly moderate; particularly as he appears to have taken store pay.
1827. My frien' good Mr. William B.
Indebted is to Doctor E.
For sundry pills and potions,
And credited by more amount,
As will be seen by shop account,
For claes and gloves and notions.
Feb'y. When slippery Pisces led the year,
(Tail-tied, for lack of better gear,
The stars amang,)
Ye ken I've charged a groat or two
For self and wife and little Sue,
When called to gang, ......... 75
March. Item - when crinkled-horned Aries
Looked frowning fra' the vernal skies,
May. Item - when Maia's gentler reign
Brought in a ghostly croupy train,
Your lugs aye loading, ...... 1.38
June 24. When canker worms had left the trees, ..... 70
July. And Cancer mellowed down the breeze,
(For wife and wee ane,) ......... 2.37
August. When Leo's flaming eye surveyed
All Sammy's cattle in the shade,
Except - the HE ANE ........... 1.62
May He who only has the giftie,
Make you aye cantie, hale and thriftie,
To life's last hour.
May a' the Powers above defend ye,
Fra' croup and toothack always tent ye,
And blue deil's power.
And when adown life's hill ye're ganging
May conscience give no fearfu' twanging,
But hopes aye braw,
And may your bonny bairns inherit
Their mither's warth, their father's spirit,
When ye're awa.
ENOCH MUDGE. 1776-1850.
Mr. Mudge was born in Lynn, on the 28th of June, 1776, and was a son of Enoch Mudge, who lived on the south side of the Common. At the early age of seventeen years he was licensed as a Methodist preacher, and the next year joined the traveling connection. He was the first Methodist preacher born in New England, and continued active in the ministry for a great number of years. He was a man of fervid piety and great activity of mind. His poetical effusions - of which many appeared at aifferent periods of his life - bear evidence of a mind warmly in love with the beautiful of nature, and his sermons, of a heart devoted to the good of his fellow men. He married, 29 November, 1797, Jerusha Hinkley, a daughter of John Holbrook, of Wellfleet, by whom he had four children - Solomon H., Anne B., Mary A., and Enoch R.; the latter of whom erected the beautiful Gothic stone cottage at Swampscot, which attracts so much attention from strangers of taste.
Mr. Mudge died in Lynn on the 2d of April, 1850, at the age of seventy-four, and was buried from the First Methodist meeting-house.
At the close of the biographical sketch of Micajah Collins may be found some lines from the pen of Mr. Mudge. His longest production in metre, was, I think, that entitled "Lynn, a Poem." It was written in 1820, and published, in pamphlet form, in 1826. It comprises some six hundred and fifty lines; is not very lively in style, and is hardly calculated to meet the cravings of a taste that prefers the stimulating to the merely nutritious. Wit and humor always impart a relish to poetic effusions on themes which are not strictly pensive or solemnly didactic. Without one or the other, the sentiment must be pleasurable or the imagery glowing to render a piece at all attractive. But I do not find that Mr. Mudge laid claim to either wit or humor. His poetry was rather instructive and admonitory than pleasing; and it was always valuable for its moral inculcations and good common sense views. The following lines, which were probably written in 1826, are as easy and pleasant as any thing of his that I have been able to find. The sentiment will be approved, and the comparisons are suggestive, though an imperfect expression or two may be noticed.
THE BLISS OF PIETY.
Gentle is the breath of May,
At the early dawn of day;
Mild the virgin-blushing rose,
When first opening from repose;
Sweet the odors of perfume,
From the honeysuckle bloom,
Pleasant is the morning ray,
Peeping from the birth of day;
Pure the gentle dew or rain,
When distilling o'er the plain;
Charming to angelic ears,
Is the music of the spheres.
All these images are faint,
The Bliss of Piety to paint.
Gentler, milder, sweeter, are
The breath of Piety and Prayer.
Music, light, and dew, and rain,
All your images are vain.
Breath of light and life divine,
Odors, music, all are thine.
ASA TARBEL NEWHALL. 1779-1850.
Mr. Newhall was born in the part Lynn that now forms Lynnfield, on the 28th of June, 1779. He was a son of Asa, who was born on the,5th of August, 1732, and was a son of Thomas, who was born on the 6th of January, 1681, and was a son of Joseph, who was born on the 22d of September, 1658, and was a son of Thomas Newhall, the first white person born in Lynn.
Mr. Newhall was bred a farmer, and followed the honorable occupation all his life. He was a close observer of the operations of nature, and brought to the notice of others divers facts of great benefit to the husbandman. He delivered one or two addresses at agricultural exhibitions, and published several papers which secured marked attention and elicited discussion. His mind was penetrating and possessed a happy mingling of the practical and theoretical; and he had sufficient energy and industry to insure results. Such a person will always make himself useful in the world, though he may be destitute of that kind of ambition which would place him in conspicuous positions.
He was liberal in his views, courteous in his manners; and by his sound judgment and unswerving integrity secured universal respect. In his earlier manhood he was somewhat active as a politician, and was deemed judicious and trustworthy. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1820, and a Senator in 1826. He was also a Representative, in 1828.
His wife was Judith Little, of Newbury; and he had nine children - Joshua L., Asa T., Thomas B., Sallie M., Eunice A., Judith B., Caroline E., Hiram L., and Elizabeth B.
Mr. Newhall died at his residence, in the southeastern part of Lynnfield, on the 18th of December, 1850, aged 71, and was buried with masonic honors.
EZRA MUDGE. 1780-1855.
Mr. Mudge was born in Lynn, on the 10th of April, 1780. He was engaged in the shoe business, here, for some years of his early manhood, and afterward went to New York, where he kept a large shoe store. Subsequently he returned, and remained till the first administration of General Jackson, when, on receiving an appointment in the Boston custom house, he removed to that city, where he continued to reside till the time of his death. For sixteen years he faithfully represented his native town in the Legislature, having first taken his seat there in 1807. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention, in 1820, and of the Executive Council, in 1828. He was active in establishing the Artillery Company, in 1808, was one of the lieutenants commissioned at the time of organization, and captain in 1813.
Mr. Mudge was a man of unaffected piety, sound judgment, and agreeable manners. And though his worldly fortunes varied, he never lost his integrity nor the respect of his fellow men. He died on the 25th of May, 1855, and his remains were brought to Lynn and buried from the South street Methodist meeting-house, he having been all his life a consistent adherent of the Methodist faith. He was thrice married, his first matrimonial connection having been entered into at the early age of twenty-one years. His first wife was Betsey Brewer, whom he married in 1801, and by whom he had no children. His second wife was Ruth Chadwell, whom he married in 1804, and by
whom he had seven children - Ezra A., Eliza B., Ruth C., Ezra W., Nathan, Hannah, and Sarah W. His third wife was Hannah Drew, and by her he had seven children - Lemuel D., William B., Hervey M., Sarah C., Mary E., Maria A., and Robert R. Ezra Warren, the fourth child by the second wife, was Mayor of Lynn in 1856 and '57.
FRANCIS STUART NEWHALL. 1795-1858.
Mr. Newhall was born in Lynn on the 30th of April, 1795, and was a son of Winthrop, who was born on the 6th of June, 1769, and was a son of Farrar (or Pharaoh, as he was universally called, and which name he himself adopted,) who was born on the 15th of February, 1735, and was a son of Samuel, who was born on the 9th of March, 1700, and was a son of Joseph, who was born on the 22d of September, 1658, and was a son of Thomas, born in 1630 - the first person of European parentage born in Lynn.
Like most of his cotemporaries, his father being in moderate circumstances, Mr. Newhall had but little opportunity to acquire more than a very common education. At about the age of thirteen he commenced learning the trade of a tanner, which business his father had followed for some years. Soon after attaining his majority he engaged in the morocco manufacture, and did a considerable business for those times. In 1822, the firm of F. S. and H. Newhall, familiar to every body in this vicinity, for many years, was formed; Henry, Mr. Newhall's brother, who is still living, being the junior partner.
Mr. Newhall removed to New York in 1825, and established another business house, with a third partner, Mr. Ebenezer Burrill - the old firm continuing in Lynn. Although the New York firm was not successful, yet it subsequently paid its indebtedness in full. Returning to Lynn, Mr. Newhall, with his brother, prosecuted the morocco and leather business with such energy and success, that they soon became two of our most wealthy townsmen. The firm was dissolved in 1850, on account of the ill health of Henry. Mr. Newhall continued in trade for many years, and at the time of his death was in the sole leather business, in Boston, with his son Henry F.
He was for more than twenty years a director of the Lynn Mechanics Bank; and in 1849, through his exertions the Laighton Bank was established, of which, with the exception of three weeks, in 1856, he was president till the day of his death. He was one of the founders of the Lynn Mechanics Insurance Company, which has been remarkably successful.
Mr. Newhall was among those earliest interested in the Unitarian society, and continued through life to be one of its most active and generous supporters.
He was also active in political matters, and in the days of anti-masonry was several times chosen a Representative to the Legislature. After the decline of the anti-masonic party he became a whig, and was elected to the Senate in 1843 and '44.
There were but few matters of public interest or importance in which he did not take part. Being an active man, one of strong points and decided character, he was usually prominent. He was prompt, energetic, and far-seeing, and possessed very considerable skill as a financier.
Mr. Newhall was intelligent, social, hospitable, and a man of rare integrity. In speech he was sometimes rather blunt; but this perhaps arose more from his propensity to declare openly an honest conviction than a natural inclination to harshness. He was of a liberal disposition, and in mercantile affairs especially, was a man of much influence.
In 1818 he married Lydia, a daughter of Thompson Burrill, and a lineal descendant from Hon. Ebenezer Burrill, a biographical sketch of whom may be found commencing on page 492; and his children were, Eliza, Persis, Henry F., Lydia A., Maria, B., and George T.
Mr. Newhall died on the 2d of February, 1858, and was buried from his residence on Market street, opposite Summer.
ISAAC NEWHALL. 1782-1858.
Mr. Newhall was born in Lynn on the 24th of August, 1782, and was a direct descendant from Thomas Newhall, the first of the name who settled in Lynn. He was for many years a merchant, and at one time did an extensive business.
He was intelligent, and his literary attainment was considerable. In 1831 he published, in a well-printed duodecimo volume, a series of letters addressed to John Pickering, in which he endeavored to satisfy the world that Earl Temple was the author of the Junius Letters. The work attracted considerable attention, though it failed to satisfy mankind that the great unknown were really unmasked.
Mr., Newhall was twice married. His first wife was Sarah Lewis, a cousin of the Lynn Bard, whom he married in 1809, and by whom he had seven children - Sarah, Gustavus, Margaret, Horatio, Isaac, Martha A., and Louisa. He married his second wife in 1849, and by her had one daughter - Sarah M. In his youth, Gustavus manifested ambition for literary fame, and wrote a good many pieces, in prose and poetry, which appeared in the newspapers, and were well received. Mr. Lummus, of the Mirror, thought well of them, and I remember hearing Mr. Lewis speak of them as promising much; but the promise was not fulfilled.
Mr. Newhall resided from town a good portion of his active life, and was in business at Salem a number of years. But he returned to Lynn and spent his latter days at the old homestead, on the east side of Mall street, near the mill brook. There he died, on the 6th of July, 1858. As he was a brother of John M.. Newhall, his genealogy may be traced by recurring to page 487 of this volume.
ISAIAH BREED. 1786-1859.
Mr. Breed descended from a respectable ancestry whose fortunes were identified with the weal or wo of Lynn, from an early period. He was born on the 21st of October, 1786. At an early age he commenced labor upon the shoemaker's seat, whence he arose to become one of the most extensive and successful shoe manufacturers of his time. He became wealthy, and was liberal with his means, in all enterprises calculated to be of public benefit; and his private charities were large. He, was in active business for nearly fifty years, was president of Mechanics Bank more than thirty years, and was a member of the first board of Directors of the Eastern Rail-road.
For several terms Mr. Breed was a Representative in the Legislature, and he was elected a Senator, in 1839; and though he was not gifted as an orator, his services as a trustworthy and industrious working member, were highly appreciated. In person he was commanding and in manners dignified.
In his social relations - as a kind neighbor and fast friend - he was worthy of imitation; and by his virtues he merited the respect of all. For a number of years he was a professing Christian of the Calvinistic school, and was most efficient in establishing the Central Congregational Society of Lynn, toward which he was ever generous with his means.
Mr. Breed was twice married. His first wife was Mary Blake, and by her he had five children - Bartlett B., Abba M., Mary A., Isaiah C., and George R. His second wife was Sally P. Moore, and by her he had five children - Lucilla P., Hervey C., Bowman B., Francis C., and James H.
For many years his place of residence was at the northeast corner of Broad and Exchange streets, and there he died on the 23d of May, 1859.
GEORGE HOOD. 1806-1859.
Mr. Hood was born in Lynn, on the 10th of November, 1806, and as soon as he had received the little school instruction common with dependent youth at that period, was put to shoemaking. He was of industrious habits and soon began to develop business talents of a high order.
Just before arriving at the age of twenty-three - that is, in 1829 - in company with John C. Abbott, who was then but nineteen years of age, he went forth into the wide world to seek his fortune. The united capital of these two enterprising and adventurous young men amounted to four hundred dollars. They directed their course to St. Louis, Missouri, then a very inconsiderable place compared with what it was destined soon to become through the energies of just such settlers as they. In a few days after arriving there they were established in business, and before a month had elapsed, Mr. Hood, with a part of their stock, went down to Natchez, in Mississippi, and commenced a branch establishment; and the Natchez trade remained under his special charge till it was discontinued, in 1835, the principal business all the time remaining at St. Louis. During the last named year, Mr. Hood returned and took up his abode at Lynn, commencing a commission shoe and leather store at Boston, though he retained an interest in the St. Louis business till 1841. In the Boston business he continued till the time of his decease. Mr. Abbott likewise proved himself a very energetic and successful business man; and he also, after a few years returned to the east, and still resides in this vicinity. He was the first president of our City Bank, and is at present president of the Shoe and Leather Dealers' Insurance Company, of Boston. Mr. Hood had great boldness in his business enterprises, almost, at times, approaching to rashness, yet his shrewdness and tenacity seldom failed to carry him safely through. He was high-minded and honorable in his transactions, and generous toward those less fortunate than himself.
Not long after his return to the east, Mr. Hood became active in the political field. He was a member of the Democratic party, fought manfully for its interests, and was rewarded in various ways. In one of the gubernatorial campaigns, he was the accredited candidate of the party for Lieutenant Governor; and he was at another time the regular party candidate for a seat in the national Congress. In Lynn, he held the most responsible offices, and in all of them performed his duties with credit to himself and benefit to those who had entrusted him with the management of their affairs. He had a strict eye to economy in public expenditure, and a generous sympathy for all the dependent classes, especially the laboring and the poor, and was one of the foremost in breaking up the old custom of indefinitely protracted daily labor, and establishing the ten hour system, as it was called, which is alluded to under date 1850. He was several times chosen a Representative, was a Senator in 1843, and a member of the Constitutional Convention, in 1853.
Mr. Hood was the first Mayor of Lynn, and held the office two years, administering affairs with economy, impartiality, and fidelity. The labor was great, for the machinery was new; but he proved himself equal to the occasion. And there is abundant evidence of the confidence of the people in his ability and integrity, in the fact that he was elected Mayor, notwithstanding he had all along been openly opposed to the adoption of the city form of government. He was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and gifted with good practical common sense views. His mind was penetrating, and in the conduct of public affairs, particularly, he was accustomed to examine thoroughly into matters.
But yet, after a more than ordinarily successful life, Mr. Hood's sun went down in a cloud. He died at the Asylum for the Insane, at Worcester, on the night of Monday, June 29, 1859; and his body was brought to Lynn, and buried from his picturesque residence, at the foot of High Rock.
Mr. Hood's wife was Hermione, a daughter of Aaron Breed. They were married on the 11th of September, 1833, and she survived him. They had thirteen children -Harriet M., George A., Adelaide M., Edwin E., Edwin, Julius S., Henrietta A., Henry, Caroline P., Aubrey, Ada H., Edward K., and Mary.
ALONZO LEWIS. 1794-1861.
Mr. Lewis was born in Lynn, on the 28th of August, 1794, in a house which still stands on the north side of Boston street, in the vicinity of Water Hill, and was the son of Zachariah Lewis. His lineage is given on page 181 of this History.
As soon as he had arrived at a suitable age, he was put to the town school, and afterward became a pupil at Lynn Academy. He evinced a strong desire to obtain something more than an ordinary education, and applied himself with such vigor and assiduity as gave sure presage of success. He never became a college graduate, but as early as his eighteenth year was qualified to teach a common school. At that age he took a school in Chester, N. H. There he remained but a short time, and then taught in Lynnfield. And it must have been about this period that the affecting episode occurred, which, as some of his friends have supposed, had a serious effect on all his after life; and of which something will be said hereafter. In 1823, he was preceptor of the Academy, though he remained in that position but a short time. For twelve years he taught in the public schools of his native place, and appears to have had an ardent love for his vocation, deeply regretting the time when circumstances rendered it necessary that he should abandon it. With touching emphasis he says, " I commenced the profession of school teacher from the love of it, and devoted all my energies to its advancement." One of his longest poems is entitled "The Schoolmaster," and many passages might be collected from it showing his full appreciation of the stern realities as well as high enjoyments attendant on the profession. He says:
the Teacher's care, his daily pains,
The hope that lifts him and the task that chains;
His anxious toil to raise the gentle mind,
His skill to clear the path for youth designed,
His faithful watch o'er life's expanding ray,
To guide young Genius up Improvement's way.
The Teacher's lot is filled with pain and care
Which but devoted hearts are fit to bear.
His rank and worth in freedom's cause are great,
Surpassed by few that bless the public state.
His is the task to fit the youthful mind
For all the stations by its God designed.
After Mr. Lewis had closed his labors as a teacher, he chiefly followed the occupation of a surveyor and architect. From the skill and rapidity with which he could handle his instruments and make his calculations, and the neatness and accuracy of his plans, he soon became so noted that his services were much in requisition.
His judgment and good taste, also, particularly in the province of architectural embellishment, were conspicuous. Many charming residences in their romantic nestling places among the hills and along the shores of Lynn, bear evidence of his accomplishments; for, having an eye for the beautiful in art and nature, and a disciplined conception of harmony, he could not with patience behold the loveliness of the landscape marred by unsightly structures, and hence was always ready to suggest and advise, and even to furnish plans, in instances where he knew the means of the recipients would not allow of their offering adequate pecuniary compensation.
Mr. Lewis was three times married; or rather twice, for his second companion was an ostensible rather than real wife, and from her he was soon separated. His first wife was Frances Maria Swan, of Methuen, Mass., a woman of eminent virtues and rare social attractions. By her he had six children - Alonzo, Frances Maria, Aurelius, Llewellyn, Arthur, and Lynnworth - and she died on the 27th of May, 1839. His other wife, whom he married on the 27th of August, 1855, was Annie Ilsley Hanson, of Portland, Me.; and by her he had two children - Ina and Ion - the former of whom died a few months before her father, and the latter, with its widowed mother still survives. She proved to him a faithful and affectionate companion, no difference of taste and association, arising from their disparity of age - he having been her senior by some thirty-six years - intervening to disturb their domestic tranquillity. The intermediate companion alluded to, went through the ceremony which he fondly believed was a valid marriage, in 1852, and which was thus announced in the newspapers: "Married, in Providence, R. I., by Rev. Henry Waterman, rector of St. Stephen's Church, Alonzo Lewis, the historian and poet of Lynn, Mass., to Miss Mary Gibson, of Boston, daughter of Rev. Willard Gibson, sometime of Windsor and Woodstock, Vt. We are informed that this is a veritable love - match in both parties; they were engaged at the first meeting, and the day of their nuptials was fixed at the second. The fair bride is the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman, and is an orphan, having lost both parents - only seventeen, beautiful, talented, and accomplished. The age of Mr. Lewis is 56." It will be noticed that in this case also there was a great difference of age - thirty-nine years; and the supposed bride seems not to have outgrown some of her girlish fancies. It soon, however, to his astonishment and her confusion, appeared that she had a former husband still living - a young man who, from some cause had withdrawn from her side. If she were not derelict in principle, she must have been extremely thoughtless to suppose that her mere separation from the first husband would have warranted her in so hastily and unceremoniously taking a second. It might, however, have been that she supposed he was not living, as there appeared to have been reports of his death. In disposition she was lively, with a dash of the romantic, and had acquired some reputation as a writer in the department of light literature.
Mr. Lewis gained high commendation by his History of Lynn. And he was a poet as well as historian, for he produced many verses which, under critical analysis, were conceded to fully entitle him to the exalted name. But he was not a voluminous writer. The history embraced but about two hundred and fifty octavo pages; yet it was so condensed as to contain much more than its proportions would to appearance allow; and unlike most works of the kind - indeed unlike most works of any kind - seemed in the mind of the reader as he proceeded to expand and shed more and more light. It has been said that historical works are always interesting. But there is an almost immeasurable difference in the degrees of interest. Minute details often weary; and yet they often possess an unspeakable charm. Their success depends upon the judgment with which they are chosen and the skill with which they are introduced. Who has not perused, again and again, the fascinating fiction of Robinson Crusoe? And who does not perceive that without its minute details its enchantment would not exist? By an unskillful hand, the story might have been told in a manner that would have caused its rejection by the editor of a village newspaper. Mr. Lewis's details are never wearying. And he had the happy faculty of introducing reflections and illustrations that opened extensive fields of useful thought; a faculty which is of inestimable value in any writer. And his poems, though collectively insufficient, by force of mere bulk, to compel men to admit his claim to be a poet, were yet so pure in morality, so refined in fancy, so apt in diction, that.the intelligent and virtuous found in them much to delight and improve. Of course those sensation stanzas and crude effusions which he occasionally threw off for temporary purposes, and to which he had the unaccountable propensity to frequently attach his name, to the damage of his reputation, are not here taken into account, for they may be said not to have been produced by Mr. Lewis the poet, but by the every-day Mr. Lewis, who had a sudden impulse, with no time to think or elaborate.
Perhaps he indulged too much in contemplation to be prolific as a writer. The most contemplative are rarely industrious with the pen. Unless the words flow with almost miraculous freedom the task of writing wearies, and the mind soars from it as drudgery. Ambition to become famous is perhaps the strongest incentive to what may be called the iechanical exertions of the literary devotee. And that Mr. Lewis possessed enough of this kind of ambition no one who was often in contact with him could for a moment doubt. But yet it was not sufficient to overcome the sterner drawbacks to his pen. Say what we may, the man of genius who is dependent on his daily toil for subsistence, often finds a heavy weight upon his fancy's wing; though he who is, blest with independence may as often permit fancy to fold her wings in inglorious ease. It may, however, have been that he thought the little he did was enough to establish his fame. And so it was, in a circumscribed and local sense. His memory will be cherished by the people of his native place in distant years. But what multitudes there are born in every community who have within them, qualities that might make them shine, as poets, indeed, but yet whose lamps are never lighted. As fervid fires have glowed in the heart of some plodding teamster, perhaps, as he traversed the glistening Beach which our friend so much loved to tread, as ever inspired a Byron. But the unlettered toiler never dreamed of perpetuating his ardent conceptions in a way that would enable others to rejoice in their light; never dreamed of applying his sturdy hand to the art of composition, an art which in truth requires the curbing of much of the airy freedom of thought, and which would bind by exacting rules.
On his History and Poems the fame of Mr. Lewis, as a writer, rests, though he wrote a good deal besides; chiefly, however, on subjects that required little thought or investigation. Pieces of his appeared in the newspapers scattered over a period of more than thirty years; but they were so exclusively directed to some special object of local interest or usefulness that they met with no general observation. And here again the bad habit of signing his name to effusions prepared hastily and perhaps under excitement, would often assert itself to his prejudice, reducing the value of a good name. It must be one of extraordinary power and readiness who can add to his reputation in any such loose way.
Mr. Lewis's celebrity as a writer, however unwilling we may be to concede it, remained rather local than general, notwithstanding his superior endowments. But this is perhaps attributabhle to circumstances beyond his control; for we know the aspirations of genius are often governed by the stern demands of daily life. And one may occasionally detect, evenin his better poems, passages that seem to have escaped without due attention, inducing the impression that the labor had become wearying, and relief been, sought, by the pleasant path of mere description, from the severer realms of thought. Nude description, however, while it may interest friends and neighbors, and those to whom the scenes described are familiar and dear, can never attain the highest and most enduring fame. Gray's Elegy could not have interested Daniel Webster, in his dying hour, as it is said to have done, simply as a description of scenes at Stoke-Pogis. In the great thoughts, so serenely, so simply, so truthfully expressed, lay the real power that charmed and soothed the noble spirit from whose sight all the beautiful things of earth were so rapidly fading. Yet the untaught villager, who homeward plods his weary way athwart the glimmering landscape in that now hallowed vicinage, looking not beyond the mere description, feels his heart stirred at the bare mention of things dear to him as incidents of his home. But when the poet takes his more extended course, ascending above mere description into regions glowing with thought, where mankind meet beyond all local limits, he at once attracts the attention of those whose minds have been trained for the higher purposes of human life. Mr. Lewis was capable of ascending to that lofty region, and had he more often directed his flight thither would have secured a wider reputation. There are one or two desirable qualities, however, with which Mr. Lewis was not largely endowed. He had but little wit or humor - qualities so essential to adorn and attract, and which can only be compensated for by the most eminent of the more dignified attributes. He had pathos but it was liable to manifest itself in such a form as to be mistaken for morbid sensibility.
After what has been said, it is proper to introduce a few selections from his poems, making choice of such as, on considerable reflection, are thought to convey the most clear idea of his general inclination of thought, his style, and execution; having an eye, likewise, to the illustration of his varying moods. Other pieces, however, which appear in different parts of this volume - "The Frosted Trees," for instance, introduced under date 1829, will not be overlooked. The first five of the extracts that follow, are from longer pieces, the title-lines being supplied.
Delightful Rock! that towering fair and high,
Like fancy's vision rises on the view!
How oft at eve, when gentle breezes sigh,
And the sun sets from skies of cloudless blue,
The youthful lover turns his steps to you,
As anciently to famed Leucadia's shore!
While sweetest charms his joyful thoughts imbue,
As summer tints spread out their smiling store,
And winds through waving trees resound like ocean's roar.
It is indeed a sweet romantic scene,
As ever poet viewed at close of day!
The spreading forest, clad in richest green,
The joyful birds that tune their evening lay,
And sing their sonnets on the slender spray,
The lofty cliff, most beautiful to see,
Rising above the plain in bold array,
The cheerful squirrel, chattering on the tree,
That eats his food in peace, and chirps right merrily!
These, and a thousand beauties more, display
Their varied charms to greet the raptured sight;
While far along the streamlet winds its way
Through fertile fields, that glisten with delight,
And clover plats, with flowers enamelled bright,
That not a bee or butterfly will shun;
And in our view throngs many a mansion white,
And ploughman, journeying home, when day in done,
And the bright windows blaze beneath the setting sun.
RELIGION - A COMPARISON.
High in the north, behold the Pole Star rise,
Shining, like Virtue, through the darkened skies;
While round its orb the faithful Pointers veer,
And aid the seaman his lone bark to steer.
So o'er the waves of this inconstant life,
Above the storms of wo, and passion's strife,
Religion's star with ceaseless lustre glows,
To lead the pilgrim to his last repose!
While, by the tossing deep, with friendly hand,
The faithful ministers of Jesus stand,
Pointing aloft to that celestial ray,
Which shines to light the darkness of our way!
Man only changes. Man, the foe of man,
Mars the bright work eternal Love began.
Malignant passions in his bosom burn,
And heaven's pure dews to noxious vapors turn.
As desert fountains send their waters clear,
To the bright flowers that on their banks appear,
But through foul regions as they onward glide,
Collect dark stains, and roll a turbid tide;
So gush pure thoughts in youth's extatic glow,
Which sink hi age to scenes of crime and wo.
Our youth is fleeting as the fleecy cloud
That sails across the summer moon! and oh!
How beautiful its prospects are! - how proud
The young heart beats! - how warm the currents flow,
Ere the strong veins have felt the power of wo!
But soon dark clouds our smiling skies deform,
And we are sad. Such is man's life below!
A few dark days, a few long nights of storm,
A few bright summer suns, all beautiful and warm.
In the sweet grove's romantic shade,
For dearest joys of nature made,
With a clear streamlet running by,
Whose mellowness relieves the eye,
While from it pour upon the ear
Such notes as poets love to hear,
And all around, and overhead,
Green leaves their soft refreshment shed,
How sweet to sit, in summer day,
Far from the sunbeam's scorching ray,
While not a fear can intervene
To blight the beauty of the scene;
And there, beside the whispering brook,
To pause o'er some delightful book.
ON THE SEA SHORE.
Along thy sandy margin, level Sea!
I wander with a feeling more sublime
Than ever yet hath blest my heart, since
Time Unfolded Nature's glorious pageantry!
And in deep silence while I gaze on thee,
Thou living picture of a mighty mind!
The joys of hope and memory combined
Send their soft raptures through my thrilling heart.
The kindred scene recalls the memory
Of friends with whom it was a pain to part,
Of dear and early hours - then, with a start,
As the wave ripples on the moonlit shore,
I think of that high world, where Pain shall dart
Her arrows through my heart and veins no more!
STORM AT NAHANT.
Call up the Spirit of the ocean wave,
And bid him rouse the storm! The billows roar
And dash their angry surges on the shore!
Around the craggy cliffs the waters rave,
And foam and welter on the trembling beach!
The, plovers cry, and the hoarse curlews screech,
As, borne along by the relentless storm,
With turned-up wings they strive against the wind
The storm-tost ship can no sure haven find,
But black-browed Death, in his most horrid form,
Strides o'er the wave and bars her destined way.
The wild winds in her shrouds their revels keep!
And while the sailors seek the sheltering bay,
Their last cry mingles with the roaring deep.
THE EVENING BELL.
How sweet and solemn is the sound,
From yonder lonely tower,
That sends its deep-toned music round
At twilight's holy hour!
When every sound of day is mute,
And all its voices still,
And silence walks with velvet foot,
O'er valley, town, and hill.
When every passion is at rest,
And every tumult fled,
And through the warm and tranquil breast
The charm of peace is spread.
O, then how sweet the solemn bell,
That tolls to evening prayer!
While each vibration seems to tell
That thou, O God, art there!
O Love! thou art a joyous thing,
In this cold world of ours!
And yet how oft thy wayward wing
Leaves thorns instead of flowers!
Thy rosy path is glowing bright,
With gems of heaven bestrewn;
Yet thou canst mingle in thy might,
The dreaded thunder stone.
Earth were indeed a cheerless place,
Without thy soul-like smile;
And thou hast that in thy bright face
Which can all ills beguile.
The cold in heart may blame thy truth,
The void of soul may frown -
The proud may seek to fetter youth,
And crush its feelings down -
Yet still thou art the sweetest one
Of all the cherub train,
Whose task is given beneath the sun
To soothe the heart of pain.
The foregoing specimens afford sufficient means whereby the reader may judge of the poetic talents of Mr. Lewis. When he set himself seriously at work he produced verses compact and polished. He was then rigidly artistic, fervor nor passion getting the better of settled rule. And his best poems bear the strongest evidence of the most elaborate preparation, affording further evidence that labor and patience bestowed on composition are not wasted. In no case, excepting where extraordinary genius leads the way, is it safe to trust to mere emotionary flights. I think Dr. Channing somewhere advises young ministers or writers to think deeply and then write rapidly. That he himself thought deeply is evinced by the light that glows on every page; and he no doubt wrote rapidly; but as to what followed, let the printers of his generation come up as witnesses. His manuscript was interlined and re-interlined in such an extraordinary manner that it was almost beyond the power of tan to decipher. And after it was in print, he made appalling havoc on the proof sheets. There were occasions when the proofs came from the Doctor's hand so much disfigured by alterations that the distressed printer found it most economical at once to distribute the types and re-set them. And when he examined even a second or third proof, numerous changes continued to be made in words and the collocation of sentences. But it was, without doubt, to this excessive polishing that his fame for elegance of composition was in a great degree attributable. His ideas were probably as fully expressed in the first instance; but much of the magic effect flowed from the after marshalling of the expressions. Prescott, if I mistake not, somewhere says that in the final labor upon his works, he examined them sentence by sentence, to see if any improvement could be made. A beautiful lady is a sweet object in almost any garb; but when she appears handsomely and becbmingly clad, is most admired. And so of other things.
There is seldom any thing startling or vivid found in the poems of Mr. Lewis. But his descriptions are animated, his expressions melodious, his rhymes good. There is a delightful freshness about many of his illustrations; an enduring value in his inculcations of purity and benevolence; a touching languor in his pensiveness; a charming earnestness in his faith. It has sometimes occurred to me that the severe criticism which appeared in the Cambridge Review, in 1831, had a serious effect on him, and was the occasion of his being virtually driven from a field he was so well fitted to adorn. No doubt that unfortunate paper was conceived rather in a spirit of heedless sport than malevolence. And had the writer seen the effect of his indiscretion that I saw, he certainly would have deeply regretted that he had not chosen some less sensitive subject to exercise his youthful satire upon. But had Mr. Lewis possessed the spirit and resolution of a Byron, he might have put his assailant to open shame, and turned the occurrence to the benefit of both.
Of Mr. Lewis's prose writings nothing need be said in this connection. His entire history is embodied in the pages of this volume; and his matter is so designated that it can be readily distinguished.
He was for some time a newspaper editor; but in that capacity was not particularly successful, though he really made a useful and interesting sheet. Toward opponents he was inclined to manifest acerbity, and was, withal, a little egotistical. A certain amount of egotism really seems to set become ingly on some people, and is useful to them, if accompanied by good nature and employed with discretion; but as exercised by Mr. Lewis it can hardly be said to have much improved him.
In his earlier manhood he made some attempts at fictitious prose writing. But it was quite apparent that without severe discipline he could not succeed as a novelist. Much of the charm of that species of literature consists in well-sustained dialogue; and he did not seem able to divest himself of his own individuality to an extent sufficient to make his colloquists appear natural.
He exhibited his poetical inclination in various ways besides the production of verses. For every locality that charmed, either from inherent beauty or historic association, he had an expressive name; for the solitary glen of the forest and wild battlement of the shore he supplied a stirring legend; and many of the creations of his wealthy imagination will endure as long as the objects they adorn exist.
In the material affairs of life Mr. Lewis was accustomed to take an eminently practical view. He had an earnest desire to promote the permanent prosperity of his native place; and many suggestions of his regarding the dry ramifications of trade were not unprofitably heeded. His public spirit was for many years conspicuous. As early as 1824 he began to labor for the protection of the Beach, which he saw was in danger of being ultimately destroyed by the ravages of the tide. He pertinaciously pressed for the erection of a substantial granite wall, such as would at once prove a safeguard from the assaults of the ocean, and a fitting embellishment of art to one of the most beautiful objects of nature; and at one time he was much elated in the hope that government would undertake the work. But he was destined never to be gratified, by the sight of a more substantial and comely erection than a line of red cedars with marine debris interwoven and flanked by an embankment of loose stones and sand. The construction of the road to Nahant along the harbor side of the Beach was an enterprise carried forward very much through his instrumentality; and it was a measure of great public utility, as any one who has ever been compelled by the tide to pursue his weary way upon the ridge, can testify. The light-house on Egg Rock was also established more through his exertions than those of any other. It is questionable, however, whether in this matter, he did not allow his fancy to get the better of his judgment, as many have always thought that a light on the point of Nahant would answer quite as good a purpose, and be much more convenient. Yet it may not be true that the convenient is always to be esteemed above the ornamental and picturesque. The real question, without doubt, should be, which will in the largest degree conduce to improvement and enjoyment. The City Seal was drawn by him, and its emblematical representations afford evidence of his practical turn and poetic conception; though the engraver should have suggested that something a little more simple and clearly defined would have looked better.
It can not be said that the life of Mr. Lewis was an eventful one. No more striking incidents attended his career than fall to the common lot, with perhaps one or two exceptions. He spent almost the whole of his days in his native place, only once or twice, and then for brief periods, making his home elsewhere.
His worldly condition can hardly be said ever to have greatly flourished. His mind was one that could not be seduced to the pursuit of wealth, as a leading object. While a teacher, his income was sufficient to supply all common wants, but insufficient to enable him to lay any thing by for future necessities. And as in that capacity the vigor of his life was spent, when he was compelled to resort to other pursuits, his gains were often precarious. There were occasions, indeed, when by his own declarations, he was not exempt from absolute want. In November, 1860, only two months before his death, he writes, "my daily support is a daily miracle." But it is not to be believed that he many times found himself in any thing like an extremity of want, surrounded as he was by those who would have deemed it a privilege to minister to his necessities, but who, from feelings of delicacy, might not, under mere suspicion, make proffers that they feared he would, in a moody moment, repulse as obtrusions.
The mind of Mr. Lewis was of a peculiarly sensitive texture, and constantly disturbed by what to most persons would seem but trivial occurrences. He was likewise keenly alive to the opinions of others; and his thirst for praise almost assumed the form of an absolute disease; yet his mind was of too high an order to be satisfied with the cheap compliments that were bestowed upon him. And in his case was furnished a notable instance of a longing for that which, when attained, had no power to satisfy. Some minds are of such noble quality that they receive the praise of the mean, vulgar, and wicked, as an indignity. But it is quite as much as can be expected of most people, that they look with indifference on the censure or praise of the wrong minded. And if Mr. Lewis had disciplined himself to this he would have passed a great many more happy hours. Constituted as he was, it will be perceived that he could not always be at peace with those around him, for few are accustomed to overlook demands engendered by such a temper, demands which might not unfrequently be put forth with asperity and petulance. But beneath his sometimes unpromising surface there always dwelt that which was really noble and congenial; and many a cultivated mind has passed with him intervals of sweet and profitable communion.
It is not worth while to deny that every one loves to see his name in honorable, connection, in print. And in a local history, almost every person who has in any way made himself conspicuous, expects that his name will appear. I have heard Mr. Lewis censured for not noticing this or that individual, as if his silence arose from prejudice. But the complaints were as likely, perhaps, to have had their origin in wounded pride as in an honest desire that the most healthful examples should be presented. Reflection will convince every reasonable person that many are conspicuous in ways that it would do no good to celebrate, and that multitudes who are known only in the most circumscribed sphere are more deserving of having their names perpetuated. The historian must himself act as judge in all such matters, and is presumed to have a conscientious appreciation of his responsibilities. And he far better shows his integrity by silence than by elevating the unworthy, who, from some meretricious surroundings have become objects of momentary observation. That Mr. Lewis had strong antipathies and prejudices, his most ardent friends would not deny. But that he was unable to exercise sufficient control over them to prevent their having an influence in the preparation of his History, we will not admit.
He had a kind heart, and few were more ready to aid others, though his interest might be compromised by his benevolence. He never turned his back upon such as came recommended by misfortune. And numberless good offices did he perform without the hope of reward and without receiving even the cheap return of gratitude. Still more; many and many a time was he subjected to the severe trial of suffering the taunts of those in prosperity whom he had befriended in adversity; a trial so much beyond the common limit of human endurance that the mind which can escape unembittered must be more than ordinary. And when, under such trials, he was led to complain, his complaints should not so often have been regarded as the mere ebullitions of a diseased sensibility. In the piece just quoted from he says, "Within a short time I have been taunted in the street for my poverty."
That large class of unenlightened men who are ruled by the love of money are accustomed to view the poor, however meritorious or exalted by genius, with disdain. But the men of genius, even while they can really feel nothing but contempt toward their arrogant brethren, generally have sufficient sagacity to avoid offending them, as from them they may, by that flattery which always reaches the vulgar mind, derive benefits - the flattery which supposes intellectual superiority. But Mr. Lewis's mind was not one that could easily yield to the airs of the supercilious, and hence he often subjected himself to indignities where the cringing would have received favors. He says, "If I, like others, had devoted my life solely to my own interest, I might now be reveling in wealth; but your hundred thousand dollar men, who never knew what it was to want a meal of victuals, can have no idea of him who has to support a family without means." This is a mournful truth; but Mr. Lewis was not the man to make it known in a way to ensure relief. In his complaints, which he occasionally put forth in the public prints, he was rather inclined to take a step beyond the sublime in pathos, and his emotional extravagances excited feelings very different from pity. Witness the following: "I have spent more than forty years in endeavoring to convince the world that love is the essence of true religion, and no person ever lived in Lynn who has been so much abused, lampooned and traduced as I." He probably wrote this in a moment of excitement occasioned by the taunt of some vulgar assailant, who by most men of his understanding would have been passed by unnoticed; and he should not have hastened to a printing office and sent it forth under his own hand; for the truth is that it would be difficult to point to another individual in the whole history of Lynn, who presented himself as such a shining mark, and escaped with so little lampooning.
Mr. Lewis was eminently what is called a self-made man; and to his industry and perseverence as much as to his natural gifts was his success in the way of fame to be attributed. But it may be assuming something to say that industry and perseverence are not as much natural gifts as any others, though usually they are spoken of rather as habits. Indeed is it not true that the great majority of those who are conspicuous, not to say illustrious, in the world, have no intellectual superiority over the mass of those by whom they are surrounded, but are raised by vigorous and continued effort in the pursuit of a definite object? But not many possess that earnest persistency without which very few indeed can ascend the heights of renown. And how many, be it repeated, feel, all their lives that they have that within, which, if developed, would exalt, but who yet dream their lives away, finding at the close that they have but floated along, with the common tide, day by day gilding their dreams with the expectation that the time was approaching when they were to arouse and valiantly pursue the upward career. It seem as if there were a destiny shaping our ends.
A great poet has said that Providence prepared a niche for every man. But if that be the case, one is almost constrained to believe that it was left for each to find his own, and that most niches had, through blindness or perversity, become filled by wrong occupants. Somehow early habits, social attractions, or drear misfortune seem to have intervened to prevent what might have been, and we behold the wit of a Voltaire spent in raising a laugh among sooty-faced workmen; the reflection of a Newton in calculating the moves on a greasy checker-board; the skill of a Linnmus in arranging posies for a country lass. These are incidents which appear among the mysteries of human life; and there are others. Do we not every day behold in high places of honor and trust multitudes who would better become the miller's frock or fisherman's fear-naught; in the pulpit and at the bar numbers who should never have looked beyond the lumber woods or arable fields for their spheres of usefulness?
Under the baleful influence of an inordinate love of money, many denounce the person who is not constantly toiling in some pursuit the end of which is mere pecuniary gain, as indolent, or in some way deluded. And if they are able to perceive and appreciate any thing of intellectual superiority or moral exaltation, they avoid an open and honest recognition of it, affecting to despise what they cannot attain. And the world's censures drive many timid souls from the higher path of duty and enjoyment. It must have been delightful to the mind of Mr. Lewis, as it is to every enlightened mind, to divest itself of the clogging interests of the present and flee to the communion of the noble and virtuous of the past. Most men live only in the present, having no apprehension of their power to enjoy extended lives, lives reaching back to times over which multiplied years have thrown a lustrous veil. But the intelligent lover of history has this illimitable field of enjoyment open before him; here he holds communion with the better representatives of our race, undisturbed by the agitations of active life around him; here he comes, a quiet spectator of the great drama which has been performing ever since the world began. While the selfish and sordid see no benefit or enjoyment in thus reverting to the past, the philosopher and philanthropist deem it among the most useful and elevating occupations of mankind. It has been said that were it not for the historian or the bard, the greatest name would soon pass into oblivion. And without the historian or the bard the most brilliant era would soon become obscured. To them is the world indebted for the safe transmission of all that is worthy of being handed along from age to age, for the preservation of noble names and useful knowledge. And do not these reflections suggest that our little community owes a debt of gratitude to the Historian and Bard who labored to maintain a record of her worthies and to perpetuate a memory of her pleasant scenes?
That Mr. Lewis himself had a more than ordinary craving for posthumous fame is not to be denied. And with such a longing it is not remarkable that he should have been willing to labor without the hope of any such reward as with most people would be the incentive to diligence. While in a strictly moral sense such a craving may not be applauded, it yet may make the possessor an instrument of much good. And in the case of our friend, the beneficial results were very great. A mind constituted like his derives much pleasure from the pursuit of its darling object. And he no doubt received the most satisfactory compensation for his toil in the conviction that his fame would survive and his name be lauded through generation after generation. And his name and his fame will survive - survive and be green in the memory of men long after the great multitude of those of our community who proudly conceived themselves essential to the welfare of the world, are forgotten; though a better fate will attend the names of those few whose meritorious acts gave them a place in his History.
Multitudes begin a good course with energy, pursue it to a certain point, and then relax their efforts, having gained, as they would have it, the point for which they strove. And these, having set their standard too low, quit the world without having accomplished half that was in their power. And it is doubtful whether Mr. Lewis should not be ranked among these. He certainly did not do all he was capable of doing. After the production of'his larger volume of Poems, and his History, he seemed to feel as if his work were chiefly done. His mind, though it returned often and lingered fondly about the pleasant paths of literature, appeared soon to weary and turn to other pursuits. But circumstances that he could not govern may have enforced this seeming indifference, for he says, referring to a proposed new edition of his History, "In the morning I set about the History of Lynn, but my wife comes in and inquires, 'What are we going to have for dinner?' "- an inquiry which certainly might, under the embarrassments of real penury, be expected to have a depressing effect. As a general thing, small pecuniary returns attend literary labor. And praise is better calculated to satisfy an empty head than an empty stomach. The two editions of his History, Mr. Lewis asserted, in a newspaper article, in 1860, were published at a loss. In a Lynn paper of the 22d of June, 1844, which was a few weeks before the issuing of the second edition, the editor remarks "We are informed by Mr. Lewis that he began at the pond on the Common and went to Emes's factory, in Sangus, and obtained only fifteen subscribers." And it is not at all probable that he was more successful with his Poems than with his History, for the market value of prose is generally above that of poetry.
Such were the contrarieties of temper possessed by Mr. Lewis, that he was like no other man; and it was common for even his intimate friends to remark that they did "not know how to take him." It would be difficult to analyze his character, and unfair to examine it by any but the most flexible rules.
In early life he had turns of dejection. And after he had arrived at manhood, similar turns, in two instances, matured into insanity, and it was found necessary to place him in an asylum. But in his later years, the turns were rather of irritability than dejection.
And this seems a proper place to state that some of the friends of Mr. Lewis have thought that his whole after character was affected by an affair of the heart which transpired in youth. He had become ardently attached to a young lady who could not reciprocate his tender impressions. And when he became convinced that it would be fruitless to prosecute his suit, a period of deep depression supervened, weighing down his spirits for months. The details of such affairs are not often made public; and as the pain is endured in sacred privacy few can readily perceive, in a given case, the sufficiency of the cause for the effect. The world is altogether too apt to scoff at such occurrences, and by unfeeling taunts increase the anguish of the wounded heart; they pity one who has lost a few dollars, but for the yearning heart that cannot attain its dearest object have nothing better than a sneer. There was certainly something in the character of Mr. Lewis that bore likeness to one thus affected. He had times of sadness when outward affairs seemed brightest, and times of irritability, apparently arising from a disturbance of the contemplation of softened memories.
In religion, Mr. Lewis was somewhat vacillating, at least so far as the outward manifestation was concerned, he having at different times joined various professing bodies - the Calvinistic Congregationalists, Methodists, and Quakers, for instance. But he never swerved from a cordial acceptance of the christian faith, and for the best part of his life was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, doing much to sustain the early footholds of Episcopal worship in Lynn. I should judge from his occasional remarks, that among his accepted doctrines was that of predestination, in an enlarged sense, though it did not appear day by day to yield in him its ripest fruits, for it seems to be a doctrine, which, whether true or false, if fully and cordially embraced, must impart a very great degree of rest and comfort to the mind. So long as a man imagines himself capable of shaping his own destiny, he will remain restless and unsatisfied. But if he sincerely believes himself the chosen instrument to work out the will of a beneficent Superior, and has disciplined himself to the docile performance of his behests he will feel an indescribable freedom from disturbing cares and distrusts. If his condition is humble he is contented, because he is there, a necessary link in the great chain that binds time to eternity, dim for a while, but perhaps in the course of events to become as bright as any. If he is in affluence he feels no pride, because no merit of his own placed him there; and though the same Providence that assigned to him his present position may hereafter have a very different one for him to occupy, he feels prepared courageously to meet what he cannot escape. The hearty predestinarian is unassuming in prosperity, patient in adversity, unmoved amid the greatest calamities, heroic on the redest battle field. What did the doctrine do for the early New England settlers - what for the champions of the English Commonwealth? But there is such a propensity to throw the shadows of a grim and exacting theology over it, when all should be trustful, bright, and hopeful, that it becomes cheerless and repulsive to many a warm heart. To such a mind as that of Mr. Lewis, it seems as if, in its full acceptance and effect, it must have been an inexhaustible source of comfort.
There was nothing particularly striking in the personal appearance of Mr. Lewis; yet he would generally have been noticed as one of marked character. He was of medium height, good form, and erect carriage. His head was large, his forehead high, his eye bright. He had a pleasant smile, but seldom indulged in a hearty laugh. During most of his manhood, he closely shaved his beard; but for his last few years that dignified appendage was allowed to take its natural course, with now and then a slight trimming. Up to middle life he was rather more than ordinarily careful in the matter of dress, though never foppish. But in his latter days he hardly paid that attention to exterior appearance becoming one in his position. He never, however, appeared in a garb that the fastidious need call unseemly. Black, the more genteel color of the day, he seldom chose, preferring gray or some other modest mixture. A cloth cap or low-crowned hat usually adorned his head.
He was thoughtful, but not abstracted; and whether in company or in the street, nothing worthy of remark was liable to escape his notice. He was fond of attending scientific, philanthropic, and other lectures, and often, when a fit occasion presented, took the opportunity to express his approval or disapproval of what was uttered. And he was not opposed to any rational amusement.
His constitution was naturally good, and capable of great endurance, as the severe tests to which he was subjected in his surveying excursions, during the inclement seasons, abundantly proved. About two years before his decease, he greatly failed in health, though he kept about, and to a considerable extent attended to his ordinary duties. His supposition was that he had been poisoned, while surveying in the woods. His final disease, however, was softening of the brain. It is not likely that he suffered much pain, and his last hours were passed in an unconscious state.
In his picturesque little cot by the sea side he breathed his last, on Monday the 21st of January, 1861 - the little cot, reared partly by his own hands, which had been his home for many years; where he loved to study and to muse; to watch the serene light that proclaimed the peace of nature, or the weird mist that heralded the roaring storm; where the spent waves, whispering beneath his window, calmed his spirit for nightly repose, and the solemn pulsations of the mighty deep swelled in majestic harmony with the lone throbs of his poetic soul; where the wail of his ocean dirge may still be heard; and where he penned these entreating though unheeded lines.
O, bury me not in the dark old woods,
Where the sunbeams never shine;
Where mingles the mist of the mountain floods
With the dew of the dismal pine!
But bury me deep by the bright blue sea,
I have loved in life so well;
Where the winds may come to my spirit free,
And the sound of the ocean shell.
O, bury me not in the churchyard old,
In the slime of the doleful tomb!
Where my bones may be thrust, ere their life is cold,
To the damp of a drearier gloom!
But bury me deep by the bright blue sea,
Where the friends whom I loved have been;
Where the sun may shine on the grass turf free,
And the rains keep it over green!
Mr. Lewis was buried from the Central Congregational meeting-house, in Silsbe street, on Wednesday, the 23d of January. The day was cloudy, damp and chill, and there was a singularly small attendance. The house was cold, the services were brief, and attended by no special solemnity. Some passages of Scripture were read, the choir sang a few appropriate strains, and an extemporaneous prayer was offered. But no eulogy or discourse of any kind was uttered. The remains were exposed to view, for a short time, in the porch, and thence conveyed to their last resting place, in the Old Burying Ground near the west end of the Common, where his father and mother lay.
And so passed from earth ALONZO LEWIS, the historian and bard of Lynn - a man who labored much for the good of others, and especially rejoiced in the prosperity of his native place who in life was often called to drink of a bitter cup, but who, God grant, may have an overflowing cup of joy in the world to which he has gone.
DANIEL COLLINS BAKER. 1816-1863.
Mr. Baker was born in Lynn on the 12th of October, 1816, and was a son of Elisha Baker. His parents were Quakers, and he was a pupil at the Friends' Boarding School, in Providence, R. I. On the 19th of December, 1838, he married Augusta, a daughter of John B. Chase, the ceremony taking place according to the custom of the Friends; but he did not continue in the faith of his fathers. He had three children - William E., Helen, and Sarah E.
Mr. Baker was a man of great activity in business, and stood so well at the time the Howard Banking Company, of Boston, went into operation, that he was chosen its president. Good fortune, however, did not always attend his operations; and particularly by the disastrous termination of the great Nahant Hotel project he met with considerable loss.
For some years he was a zealous politician, and frequently in office. In 1849 and '50 he was elected to the Senate; at the organization of our first City Government he was chosen President of the Common Council; and in 1853, he was elected Mayor. As a presiding officer, he stood high, disposing of business with facility and demeaning himself with great courtesy.
Mr. Baker was a little inclined to display, and joined heartily in public entertainments and political demonstrations. He was liberal in sentiment, free in expenditure, convivial in habit, and had a kind heart, He built the fine residence on Franklin street, opposite Laighton, and resided there for a number of years. His death took place on the 19th of July, 1863, at New Orleans, where he had been doing business for some months.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN NEWHALL. 1802-1863
Mr. Newhall was born in that part of Lynn now constituting Saugtus, on the 29th of April,. 1802. He was a son of Jacob, who was born November 1, 1780, and was a son of Jacob, known as Landlord Newhall, who was born May 3, 1740, and was a son of Locker, who was born November 12, 1708, and was a son of Jacob, who was born March 27, 1686, and was a grandson of Thomas, the first white person born in Lynn.
The circumstances of Mr. Newhall's father were such, that he was early taught the necessity of self-dependence; and naturally possessing an inclination to accumulate, he soon formed habits of industry and frugality. But in his first labors he had a higher incentive to diligence than the selfish one of mere accumulation. The necessities of a loving mother with other helpless children, stimulated him to the most strenuous exertion.
Some time before his death he prepared a sort of autobiography, in which many of his early struggles and experiences are detailed in a manner always interesting and often affecting; and an occasional passage from it will add much to the value of this sketch. The following, which is found under date 1815, and relates to his mother, can hardly fail to be read with emotion. And who will not be ready to say that with such a mother, a child who would not do his best must be hopelessly perverse. The growth of the religious element, which was so conspicuous in his character throughout all his active life, and which often attracted the attention of his business associates, is easily accounted for. He says:
How well do I remember in the late hours of night, when father was away and her dear ones were sleeping, that she would come to my bed-side, and kneeling with overflowing heart pour out her soul in prayer that God would preserve her darling boy from the snares so thick around him. She thought I was asleep, but I was awake and the silent tear moistened my young cheek, and I avowed before God, that a mother's prayers should not be in vain. How often she thus kneeled at my bed-side when I was asleep, I know not, but doubtless quite often.
How many times I wished that I were older, and had some good work so that I could support her. I frequently entreated her for work, but not shoemaking, as I could not like that. I often used to go into the chocolate mill, and soon learned to handle the pans, paper the chocolate, and do other light work. I liked it, and begged her to get me a chance in the mill. But she told me that only men worked there. I was sorry, but not disheartened.
He however got a chance in the mill, and then commenced his first regular work, though he had previously assisted his father a little in the shoemaker's shop. But he had a great dislike for shoemaking. At this time he was thirteen years old.
Autumn came, and the chocolate making commenced early and promised well. I implored my mother to get me work. She went to Mr. Childs and told her story. He said if I could work well I might come in. Well! I knew what I could do, and never was a boy better pleased than I when I heard the decision. My mother made me a frock of a cocoa bag, and I was proud as a king. Never shall I forget the day when all arrayed I marched to the mill and went to work. Old - and - were the men. [The names are all given in the manuscript, but for obvious reasons should not all appear in print.] --- drank a great deal of rum, and was cross and ugly; but I was determined to please him, for I knew that there all my hopes depended; he was master, and what he said was law; even Mr. Childs dared not dispute him. When he spoke, I sprang, and ran, obeying his every nod. Besides that, I did the very work he wished me to do, and no other. I soon got his good will, and he was always kind to me.
But to come back to the work. I, a boy not fourteen years old, and the business requiring labor night and day, found it hard. To go to work at sunset and continue till sunrise, four nights in the week, I could scarcely endure, and sometimes declared - "This shall be my last night." But when the beautiful sun shone in the morning I felt better, and encouraged to go on. I hated shoemaking, and was yet determined to earn something for my mother. If I could earn eighty-three cents a day by working night and day, it was to me a great sum. I now think that such labor for a boy was too much; but I was ambitious. My mother often wept at my exposure and extreme labor; and perhaps I am now reaping the harvest grown from the seed then sown. Sometimes she would say that the work was too hard, and I had better quit it; but I could not think of it; work I must, and work I would. Mr. Childs would stand and look with astonishment to see me paper the chocolate so much faster than was ever done before. From the beginning to the end of a week I did not get into a bed. When the tide was over we would spread the hot cocoa, and throwing a bag over it make it a bed. In cold weather, the steaming cocoa was inviting; but I now think its effects were bad. But with all the hard work and suffering, I got through my first winter at the mill; how I bore the fatigue God only knows; some unseen hand supported me; and when I was just on the point of giving up, several times, some impulse of mind forbade it. God helped me.
Passing on to 1818, when he was sixteen years old, we find him still persevering in labor, stimulated by the same high motives.
In the spring of 1818, having got through with mill work, my mother engaged me to go to work for Jesse Rice, on Nahant. So the next morning I started for my new field of labor. I was pleased with the idea, and thought how pleasant it would be to work at Nahant in summer. My labor was farming I went to work with earnestness, but soon found that Mr. Rice needed an experienced farmer and a strong man. I could not hold a heavy plough, with two yoke of oxen; I had not learned to, and was not stout enough; Mr. Rice saw it and was sorry; and so was I. After a week's trial, he told me that the work was beyond my strength, and I had better seek some lighter labor. He said that when I grew older and stouter I might come again. I thanked him, he paid me well, and I returned home.
This season I learned to blow rocks; and the work being new, I took hold in earnest. For a while I did not charge the rocks, but before long I learned to, and could do it as well as any body.
I think it was in June  that Mr. Smith sent for me to go up and tend the "chipper." This was a machine to cut up the small blocks of cam-wood, to chips, so that they could be ground. It was a dangerous machine, and several had already been injured by it. Smith cautioned me to be very careful; and the caution was well given. I have often wondered how my mother dared to risk me at such dangerous work. All went on well enough for a while. I thought myself master of the business and grew heedless. One day in carelessness I put my left thumb under the axe, and cut it off. I started, and could hardly believe my thumb was lost, having scarcely noticed the accident by the pain; a pin's prick would have hurt me more. I took the severed member, put it on its place, and started for the house, holding it on. Smith saw me coming; I saw him, and remembering his caution, laughed. He said, "You have cut off your fingers." I went in, sat down, and he took a good sized needle and thread and seved it on. I bore it pretty well, and after it was done started for home. My mother was sorry, and wept, and at once sent me down to Dr. John Lummus, that he might look at it. He examined it and expressed some doubt about saving the thumb, but said he would try. The night following was dreadful, I slept none, and in the morning went down to the Doctor's again, repeating my visits to him for several successive days. Finally the severed thumb was cast into the fire, and the wound dressed; and it was nearly two months before I got well.
The foregoing is sufficient to give an idea of the early struggles of this more than ordinary man. And we must pass on again, till we reach the year 1825, when he was twenty-three years of age, about which time, in company with another, he commenced a small trading establishment in Canada, Thither he made two or three journeys. But on the whole they were unsuccessful, and the enterprise was abandoned. After various other trials, successes, and mishaps, he arrives at the age of twenty-eight. He had now, 1830, just returned from Canada, having closed up there, and goes on to speak of his condition, prospects, and determination, as follows:
I reached home in safety the next day, and found all well as usual. I was glad to get once more where I was known, though I hardly knew what to do with the debts which I owed on the store business. However, by the assistance of my uncle Makepeace I paid up the small debts, and got one or two of the largest creditors to wait. The next step was to get into some business, that I might support my family. The shoe business presented the fairest prospect, as I thought; so I hired a small room in the upper part of what is now the Henry Nichols house, got trusted for one bundle of leather from Isaac Bassett and a dozen of kid from John Lovejoy, and hired of John Emerton fifty dollars, giving him a mortgage on my horse and wagon for security. With this small outfit I went to work, fully determined that nothing on my part should be wanting to ensure success. I kept an exact account of all I bought and sold, so that I might at any time know whether I was making a profit. Every thing in business was as dull as could be and workmen were hard to be got. But perseverance and prudence were my motto. After three months of close application, I found a little had been made. This was to me encouraging, and I labored on. Never shall I forget how hard it was to sell shoes in Boston. The seller had to beg, and be insulted besides. But no discouragements deterred me; and I now look back and see a kind and overruling Providence in all.
I considered this the beginning of life with me, and felt determined to succeed, if prudence and economy would ensure success. I began with the determination not to give a note if I could avoid it. So, buying as I did, on a credit, I let accounts run six months, and then contrived to settle them either by giving some business note which I took, or making the payment in cash. After a short time I made my plan work well. The first of January and the first of July, in every year, were to be my settling times with every one. Most of my accounts would then have run six months, and I was entitled to three months more clear credit on a note. When the first of January came I had passed all my fall sales, and had notes or cash for the same. When the first of July came I had made all my spring sales, and had cash and notes for them. So the advantage of fixing on these dates for settlements will be seen. I could then endorse the business paper that I had taken and thus settle all my bills, or could get notes discounted and pay the cash. I got this machinery of business well established, and never deviated from it in all the time that I followed the business. Thomas Raddin had then got into a fair business and had established a good credit at the Commercial Bank, in Salem, and he introduced me to the president, Willard Peele, Esq., and thus I obtained the advantage of getting a discount as often as I wanted one. This was every thing to me, as money matters were then situated. I was very punctual in all my payments, and so my credit grew better and better.
It would be instructive as well as interesting to follow him in his business operations all the way up till the time when he became firmly established as one of the most successful, shrewd, and wealthy business men in the vicinity, and speak more at large of his integrity, promptness, perseverance, and industry; but allotted space will not permit. His projects were often bold, but never characterized by that reckless adventure so often seen among those who make haste to be rich. He by no means confined himself to one kind of business, but commonly, to use an expressive phrase, had several irons in the fire at the same time; yet he was so active and watchful that none appeared to suffer for want of attention.
Mr. Newhall's education was procured at the common school, with the exception of a short attendance at the New Market Academy, and the more important exception of his own private application. He was qualified to teach in the common schools of the time, when he was a young man, and did teach, for one or two brief periods, before he became settled in business.
The religious element was always strong in his mind. He became a professing Christian while a youth, joined the Methodist connection, and preached a little before he had attained his majority. He however, some years afterward, swerved from the faith he first professed and became a Universalist. He was a man of strictly moral life and a friend to all enterprises calculated to promote morality and education. In public affairs he took a warm interest, and originated a number of beneficial projects.
On the 25th of April, 1825, he married Miss Dorothy Jewett, of Hebron, Ct., and had six children - Benjamin, Charles J., Herbert B., Wilbur F., Ellen M., and Alice A.
He was a man of medium stature, and in the prime of life was active in his movements, and capable of enduring much fatigue and exposure. But for two or three years before his death, he suffered greatly from chronic rheumatism, which reduced him to the sad condition of a cripple. He kept about as long as possible, but for many months was almost the whole time confined to his room, and much of the time to his bed. It was a sore trial to him, for his mind was as vigorous as ever. Yet he bore his affliction with a patience and resignation seldom witnessed, though his pains were at times excruciating. He often sat up in bed to write down his thoughts, to read, or arrange those worldly matters which he knew were soon to pass into other hands. He died on Tuesday, the 13th of October, 1863.
It now remains to speak of Mr. Newhall as a writer. He wrote a great many articles, in prose and poetry, which appeared in the newspapers; some of which attracted considerable attention. If all that emanated from his prolific pen could be gathered together, volumes might be filled; and among it would be found much of sterling value. But it must be said that he wrote too much to do full justice to himself - that he did not always take sufficient time to investigate and consider his subjects. But a great portion of what he wrote was elicited by occurrences of temporary interest, and not expected to possess an enduring value. He however wiote many pieces that were never published, some of which would undoubtedly do credit to his memory, should they appear in print.
The most valuable of his published prose writings were his Historical Sketches of Saugus, which appeared in numbers, in the Lynn Weekly Reporter; commencing in December, 1858, and continuing on through two or three years. They did not claim to be a connected history, but were rather a collection of facts, traditions, and reminiscences, interspersed with descriptive passages, reflections, and suggestions. They were exceedingly interesting; and had he been more exact in his statements, instead of so frequently referring this or that event to about such a time, would have possessed greater value. But that exactness is just what requires the greatest labor at the historian's hand; and he had not the time to spare in such gratuitous service. He did more than could have been expected, and has furnished a vast number of hints and much useful matter for some future historian.
He commenced a dalliance with the Muses at an early age, and became quite a skillful versifier. Under date 1819, at which time he was seventeen years old, he says:
There was in the neighborhood an old maid called Betty Brown. She was a great tattler, or at least had the reputation of being one. And so I wrote my first verse:
Betty Brown is of renown,
Throughout the neighborhood,
Tells all she knows, Where'er she goes,
But never tells no good.
It will be observed that I had never studied grammar, to understand it, and did not then see that in my first verse I was violating a very important grammatical rule. But no matter; it was my first effort.
He wrote on all subjects and had a happy faculty of adapting his style to his matter - being grave or gay as occasion required. But he had too much natural kindness of heart often to be severe. His rhymes were usually good, and at times showed considerable ingenuity. In some pieces there ran a pleasant vein of quiet humor which now and then broke up in a flash of satire.
The religious element so conspicuous in his character, has been referred to. It produced in the weary and painful hours of his last sickness much comfort; making him patient under his sufferings, and inspiring a confident expectation of a happy issue out of all afflictions. The following pieces bear evidence of a devotional, trusting, and thankful spirit, and are, I think, fair specimens of his poetry. The one entitled "Lines on My Sixtieth Birth-day," I believe he considered his best piece. There certainly are some passages in it worthy of being read and re-read. But it should be remarked that authors are not usually the best judges of their own productions. Circumstances unknown or unappreciated by the reader may give them a fictitious value in the mind of the writer. The other piece - that entitled "Answered Prayer," was dictated when prostrate upon his bed, a few days before his death. It was his last piece.
LINES ON MY SIXTIETH BIRTH-DAY.
[APRIL 29, 1862.]
How noiselessly the wheels of time have rolled along their way,
And brought once more - perhaps the last - my cherished natal day,
Which on the dial-plate of time, counts up the three score years,
Some brightened by a sunny smile, and some bedewed by tears.
Just three score years have passed away, since I, a baby boy,
First pressed that dear maternal breast, and gave a mother joy
And made a father's heart rejoice, with pure paternal love.
But those warm hearts have ceased to beat - their home is now above.
I yet remain; but oh, how changed; the child of three score years
I cannot recognize at all in that which now appears;
And were it not for consciousness that I am still the same,
I should suppose the change complete in all except the name.
But what are three score years to me? Although the life of man,
'T is only, in the web of life, the tiny infant's span,
The lightning's flash, the arrow's flight, the dew upon the spray,
Today't is here, tomorrow gone - thus life is passed away,
The tender ties of early days, which rendered life so sweet,
The weight of three score years have crushed beneath its giant fee
Leaving a loving heart in grief bowed down beneath its weight,
Adopting, as a last recourse, submission to its fate.
Few ties remain - how dear to me - they now surround my bed
To wipe away the gathering tear, and soothe my aching head;
A precious boon - a gift of heaven - a treasure more than gold
They smooth each day, life's rugged way, as I am growing old.
What mixture in the cup of life, which I so long have quaffed,
How joy and grief, and smiles and tears, have mingled in the draft
But I have almost drained the cup; and little now remains,
Excepting life's infirmities, its sufferings, and its pains.
Whatever ills may yet betide, howe'er disease and pain
May rack this mortal tenement, O, may I not complain,
But humbly rest in God's right hand till life's short race is run,
And say, with my expiring breath, Thy will, O Lord, be done
For many years my prayer hath been,
That I might end this mortal race,
Without severe and torturing pain,
And, calm and easy, die in peace.
And now the Lord hath heard my prayer,
Assuaged my pains so oft severe,
And given my frail body rest,
The little time that I am here.
I'll give Him praise, while life and strength
Shall let me speak my gratitude,
And with my last expiring breath,
I'll calmly breathe - the Lord is good.
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