THE BAY STATE MONTHLY.
A Massachusetts Magazine.
VOL. I. MARCH, 1884. No. III.
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Hon. JOSIAH GARDNER ABBOTT, LL.D.
By Colonel John Hatch George.
The Honorable JOSIAH GARDNER ABBOTT, the subject of this biographic sketch, traces his lineage back to the first settlers of this Commonwealth. The Puritan George Abbott, who came from Yorkshire, England, in 1630, and settled in Andover, was his ancestor on his father's side; while on his mother's side his English ancestor was William Fletcher, who came from Devonshire in 1640, and settled, first, in Concord, and, finally, in 1651, in Chelmsford. It may be noted in passing that Devonshire, particularly in the first part of the seventeenth century, was not an obscure part of England to hail from, for it was the native shire of England's first great naval heroes and circumnavigators of the globe, such as Drake and Cavendish.
George Abbott married Hannah, the daughter of William and Annis Chandler, whose descendants have been both numerous and influential. The young couple settled in Andover. As has been said, ten years after the advent on these shores of George Abbott came William Fletcher, who, after living for a short time in Concord, settled finally in Chelmsford. In direct descent from these two original settlers of New England were Caleb Abbott and Mercy Fletcher, the parents of the subject of this sketch. Judge Abbott is, therefore, of good yeomanly pedigree. His ancestors have always lived in Massachusetts since the settlement of the country, and have always been patriotic citizens, prompt to respond to every call of duty in the emergencies of their country, whether in peace or war. Both his grandfathers served honorably in the war of the Revolution, as their fathers and grandfathers before them served in the French and Indian wars of the colonial period of our history. In his genealogy there is no trace of Norman blood or high rank: but
"The rank is but the guinea's stamp, The man's the gowd for a' that."
In this country, while it is not necessary to success to be able to lay claim to an aristocratic descent, it is certainly a satisfaction, however democratic the community may be, for any person to know that his grandfather was an honest man and a public-spirited citizen.
Judge Abbott was born in Chelmsford on the first of November, 1814. He was fitted for college under the instruction of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He entered Harvard College at the early age of fourteen and was graduated in 1832. After taking his degree, he studied law with Nathaniel Wright, of Lowell, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. In 1840, he formed with Samuel A. Brown a partnership, which continued until he was appointed to the bench in 1855.
From the very first, Judge Abbott took a leading position in his profession, and at once acquired an extensive and lucrative practice, without undergoing a tedious probation, or having any experience of the "hope deferred which maketh the heart sick." In criminal cases his services were in great demand. He had, and has, the advantage of a fine and commanding person, which, both at the bar and in the Senate, and, in fact, in all situations where a man sustains the relation of an advocate or orator before the public, is really a great advantage, other things being equal. As a speaker, Judge Abbott is fluent, persuasive, and effective. He excites his own intensity of feeling in the jury or audience that he is addressing. His client's cause is emphatically his own. He is equal to any emergency of attack or defence. If he believes in a person or cause, he believes fully and without reservation; thus he is no trimmer or half-and-half advocate. He has great capacity for labor, and immense power of application, extremely industrious habits, and what may be called a nervous intellectuality, which, in athletic phrase, gives him great staying power, a most important quality in the conduct of long and sharply contested jury trials. After saying this, it is almost needless to add that he is full of self-reliance and of confidence in whatever he deliberately champions. His nerve and pluck are inherited traits, which were conspicuous in his ancestors, as their participation in the French and Indian wars, and in the war for Independence, sufficiently shows. Three of Judge Abbott's sons served in the army during the war of the Rebellion, and two of them fell in battle, thus showing that they, too, inherited the martial spirit of their ancestors.
Judge Abbott had just reached his majority, when he was chosen as representative to the Legislature. In 1841, he was elected State senator. During his first term in the Senate he served on the railroad and judiciary committees; and during his second term, as chairman of these committees, he rendered services of great and permanent value to the State. At the close of his youthful legislative career he returned with renewed zeal to the practice of his profession. His ability as a legislator had made him conspicuous and brought him in contact with persons managing large business interests, who were greatly attracted by the brilliant young lawyer and law-maker, and swelled the list of his clients.
At this period General Butler was almost invariably his opposing or associate counsel. When they were opposed, it is needless to say that their cases were tried with the utmost thoroughness and ability. When they were associated, it is equally needless to say that there could hardly have been a greater concentration of legal ability. In 1844, Judge Abbott was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention at Baltimore, which nominated James K. Polk as its presidential candidate; and he has been a delegate, either from his district or the State at large, to all but one of the Democratic National Conventions since, including, of course, the last one, at Cincinnati, which nominated General Winfield S. Hancock. His political prominence is shown by the fact that he has invariably been the chairman of the delegation from his State, and, several times, the candidate of his party in the Legislature for the office of United States senator.
Judge Abbott was on the staff of Governor Marcus Morton. In 1853, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, which consisted so largely of men of exceptional ability. In the debates and deliberations of this convention, he took a conspicuous part. In 1835, he was appointed judge of the superior court of Suffolk County. He retired from the bench in 1858, having won an enviable reputation for judicial fairness and acumen, and suavity of manner, in the trial of cases, which made him deservedly popular with the members of the bar who practised in his court. In the year following his retirement from the bench, he removed his office from Lowell to Boston, where he has since resided, practising in the courts, not only of this Commonwealth, but of the neighboring States and in the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1874, he was elected a member of Congress, from the fourth congressional district of Massachusetts. He was chosen by his Democratic colleagues of the House a member of the Electoral Commission, to determine the controverted result of the presidential election. When the gravity of the situation, and the dangers of the country at that time, are taken into account, it is obvious that no higher compliment could have been paid than that involved in this selection; a compliment which was fully justified by the courage and ability which Judge Abbott manifested as a member of that commission. It should have been mentioned before, that, in 1838, Judge Abbott married Caroline, daughter of Judge Edward St. Loe Livermore. After what has been said, it is scarcely necessary to give a summary of the prominent traits of Judge Abbott as a man and a lawyer. The warmth and fidelity of his friendship are known to all such as have had the good fortune to enjoy that friendship. He is as conspicuous for integrity and purity of character as for professional ability. As a citizen, he is noted for patriotism, liberality, and public spirit. As a politician, he is true to his convictions. As a business man, he has brought to the aid of the large railroad and manufacturing interests, with which he has long been, and is still, connected, large intelligence, great energy, and sound judgment. His physical and mental powers are undiminished, and it may be hoped that many years of honor and prosperity are still in store for him.
[1. GEORGE ABBOT, the pioneer, born in 1615, emigrated from Yorkshire, England, about 1640, and was one of the first settlers and proprietors of Andover, in 1643. His house was a garrison for many years. In 1647, he married Hannah Chandler, daughter of William and Annis Chandler. They were industrious, economical, sober, pious, and respected. With Christian fortitude they endured their trials, privations, and dangers. He died December 24, 1681, aged 66. She married (2) the Reverend Francis Dane, minister of Andover, who died in February, 1697, aged 81. She died June 11, 1711, aged 82.
2. TIMOTHY ABBOT, seventh son and ninth child of George and Hannah (Chandler) Abbot, born November 17, 1663; was captured during the Indian War in 1676, and returned in a few months to his parents; was married in January, 1690, to Hannah Graves, who died November 16, 1726. He lived at the garrison-house, and died September 9, 1730.
3. TIMOTHY ABBOT, eldest son of Timothy and Hannah (Graves) Abbott, was born July 1, 1663; lived with his father in the garrison-house; was industrious, honest, useful, and respected. He married in December, 1717, Mary Foster, and died July 10, 1766.
4. NATHAN ABBOT, third son and sixth child of Timothy and Mary (Foster) Abbot, was born January 18, 1729; married, in 1759, Jane Paul.
5. CALEB ABBOT, son of Nathan and Jane (Paul) Abbot, married, in 1779, Lucy Lovejoy, who died February 21, 1802; he married (2) Deborah Baker; he died 1819.
6. CALEB ABBOTT, son of Caleb and Lucy (Lovejoy) Abbot, was born November 10, 1779; settled in Chelmsford; married Mercy Fletcher (daughter of Josiah Fletcher), who died in 1834; he died December 5, 1846.
7. JOSIAH GARDNER ABBOTT, second son and fourth child of Caleb and Mercy (Fletcher) Abbott, was born November 1, 1814. In 1838, he married Caroline Livermore, daughter of the Honorable Edward St. Loe Livermore, and granddaughter of the Honorable Samuel Livermore, of New Hampshire. Their children are:—
I. Caroline Marcy Abbott, born April 25, 1839; married April 19, 1869; and died in May, 1872, leaving one daughter, Caroline Derby, born in April, 1872.
II. Edward Gardner Abbott, born in Lowell, September 29, 1840; was killed in battle August 9, 1862.
III. Henry Livermore Abbott, born January 21, 1842; was killed in battle May 6, 1864.
IV. Fletcher Morton Abbott, born February 18, 1843.
V. William Stackpole Abbott, born November 18, 1844; died May 6, 1846.
VI. Samuel Appleton Browne Abbott, born March 6, 1846; married October 15, 1873, Abby Francis Woods, and has four children.
(a) Helen Francis Abbott, born July 29, 1874. (b) Madeline Abbott, born November 2, 1876. (c) Francis Abbott, born September 8, 1878. (d) Caroline Livermore Abbott, born April 25, 1880.
VII. Sarah Livermore Abbott, born May 14, 1850; married October 12, 1870, William P. Fay, and has three children.
(a) Richard Sullivan Fay, born in July, 1871. (b) Catherine Fay, born in September, 1872. (c) Edward Henry Fay, born in 1876.
VIII. Franklin Pierce Abbott, born May 6, 1842.
IX. Arthur St. Loe Livermore Abbott, born November 6, 1853; died March 28, 1863.
X. Grafton, born November 14, 1856.
XI. Holker Welch Abbott, born February 28, 1858.
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ESOTERIC BUDDHISM.—A Review.
By Lucius H. Buckingham, Ph.D.
Those who have read Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism will probably agree on one point, namely: that, whether the statements of the book be true or false, the book, as a whole, is a great stimulant of thought. The European world has looked upon Indian philosophy as mere dreams, idle speculations, built only on a foundation of metaphysical subtleties. Here comes a book which, going down to the root of the whole matter, claims that, instead of resting on mere imaginations, this whole structure of Buddhistic philosophy has, as its cornerstone, certain facts which have been preserved from the wrecks of a time earlier than that which our grandfathers ascribe to the creation of the world, and handed down without interruption from eras of civilization of which the earth at present does not retain even the ruins. Such a claim of antiquity rouses an interest in our minds, were it only for its stupendous contempt of common belief.
There is one direction in which the book so harmonizes with one's speculations that it makes upon us a very peculiar impression. It carries out the theory of human development, physical and metaphysical. Darwin's idea of the origin of the human animal, in connection with the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, might, if one had the time to make it all out, be shown to be the sufficient basis for a belief in, and a logical ground for anticipating, the progress of man toward moral and spiritual perfection. A healthy man is an optimist. Pessimism is the product of dyspepsia; and all the intermediate phases of philosophy come from some want of normal brain-action. Following out the Darwinian theory,—supported as it seems to be by the facts,—one must believe that the human race as a whole is improving in bodily development; that the results of what we call civilization are, increase of symmetry in the growth of the human body, diminution of disease, greater perfection in the power of the senses, in short, a gradual progress toward a healthy body. Now, a healthy body brings with it a healthy mind. The two cannot be separated. Whatever brings the one will bring the other; whatever impairs the one will impair the other. A sound mind must bring, in time, a sound moral nature; and all, together, will tend toward the perfection of humanity in the development of his spiritual affinities. Such has been, roughly sketched, my belief regarding the progress of man. It has left all the men of the past ages, all of the present time, all of many generations yet to come, in a condition, which, compared with that which I try to foresee, must be called very immature. This has never been a stumbling-block to me; for I hold that the Lord understands his own work, the end from the beginning; and that, if "order is heaven's first law," there is a place for every soul that is in it, and a possible satisfaction of the desires of every one. Dr. Clarke expresses the thought that, however much any being may have gone astray, the soul reconciled at last to God, though it can never undo the past, or be at that point it might have reached, will yet be perfectly content with its place in the universe, and as much blessed as the archangels. That consideration has satisfied my mind when I contemplated humanity, seeming to stop so far short of its perfection. My regrets—if I can use such a term—came, as I believed, out of my ignorance.
Now comes a book which claims to give us the key of the whole problem of human destiny—a book containing some assertions regarding occult science, belief in which must remain suspended in our minds, and some points in cosmogony which conflict with our Christian convictions—yet a book making statements about human history which, though in the highest degree startling, are not contradicted by anything we know of the past, but are rather an explanation of some of its dark passages—a book developing a system of human growth which cannot be disproved and which makes plain some of the riddles of destiny.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the book is its tremendous assumption. "All that have hitherto written on this subject have been only half-taught. They have not been admitted to the real inner doctrine. Here is the first putting-forth, to the world, of the real teaching, as the Buddhists present it to those who have been initiated into occult science." Such is, in substance, the author's claim. We may believe just as much of this as we can. I, for my part, knowing nothing about the matter, choose, just now, and for our purpose, to assume that the doctrines of Esoteric Buddhism are what Sinnett says they are, because they suggest to my mind so many attractive avenues for my imagination to wander in.
There are two main points in this book which give it its chief interest: (1) "The past history of the human race as now living on this planet;" and (2) "The manner in which, and the circumstances under which, any individual man works out his own salvation." But before entering upon these, we should say a word about the Buddhist statements regarding the nature of man.
Seven is the sacred number in the Buddhist system. As there are seven worlds in the planetary chain, seven kingdoms in Nature, seven root-races of men, in like manner man is a sevenfold being, continuing, through untold millions of years, his existence as an individual, yet changing, one knows not how many times, many of his component elements. As the Buddhist sees the mortal body to be dissolved into its molecules, and these molecules to be transferred with their inherent vitality to other organisms, so some of his higher elements, among them his "astral body," his impulses and desires, under the name, as our author gives it, of animal soul, may separate from the more enduring parts of his composition, and become lost to him in Nature's great store of material substance. As there is an animal soul, the seat of those faculties which we possess in common with the lower beings about us, so there is a human soul, the seat of intelligence; and, higher still, a spiritual soul, possessing powers of which as yet we know but little, yet destined to give us, when it shall be more fully developed, new powers of sense, new avenues for the entrance of knowledge, by which we shall be able to communicate directly with Nature, and become as much greater than the present race of men, as that is greater than the lowest brutes. Above all these elements of man, controlling all, and preserving its individuality throughout, is "spirit." Yet even this, when absorbed into Nirvana, is lost in that great whole which includes all things and is Nature herself. Lost, do I say?—yes, lost for inconceivable ages upon ages, yet destined to come forth again at some moment in eternity, and to begin its round through the everlasting cycle of evolution.
Here, you will say, is materialism. As the intelligent man of early ages looked out upon the world, he felt the wind he could not see, he smelt the odor that he could not feel, and he reasoned with himself, I think, as follows; "There is somewhat too subtile for these bodily senses to grasp it. Something of which I cannot directly take cognizance brings to me the light of sun and stars." These somethings were, in his conception, forms of matter. He saw the intelligence and the moral worth of his friend, and then he saw that friend a lifeless body stretched upon the ground, and he said some thing is gone. This thing was again to him only another and more subtile form of matter. We, with all the aids of modern knowledge and thought, are absolutely unable to say what distinction there is between matter and spirit. The old philosopher was logical. He could find no point at which to draw his line. Therefore he drew no line. He recognized only different manifestations of one substance. In terms of our language, he was a materialist. So is the modern scientist; yet I cannot help thinking that the Buddhist stands much nearer to truth than the materialist of to-day. The various faculties of human sense and human intellect are so many molecules forming, by their accretion, the animal and the human soul. As, at death, the molecules of the body separate and are, by-and-by, absorbed with their inherent vitality into new agglomerations, and become part of new living forms, so the elements of the human soul may be torn apart, and some of them, being no longer man, but following the fortunes of the lower principles, may be lost to us, while other elements, clinging to the spiritual soul, follow its destiny in the after-life. I know a thinking man who believes in nothing but matter and motion; add time and space, and we have the all in all, the Nature, of Buddhism. Yet the Buddhist believes in a state of being beyond this earthly life: a state whose conditions are determined absolutely by the use which the human soul has made of its opportunities in the life that now is, and my friend says he does not. Truly, Buddhism is better than the materialism of to-day.
Let me now turn to the history of humanity as revealed to us in our book. Every monad, or spirit-element, beginning its course by becoming separated from what I conceive as the great central reservoir of Nature, must, before returning thither, make a certain fixed round through an individual existence. If it belongs to the planetary chain, of which our earth is the fourth and lowest link, it must pass seven times through each of the kingdoms of Nature on each one of the seven planets. Of these seven planets, Mars, our Earth, and Mercury, are three. The other four are too tenuous to be cognizable by our present senses. Of the seven kingdoms of Nature, three are likewise beyond our ken or conception; the highest four are the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, and man. Our immortal part has therefore passed already through six of the kingdoms of its destiny, and is, in fact, now near the middle of its fourth round of human existence upon the earth. One life on earth is, however, not sufficient for the development of our powers. Every human being must pass through each of the seven branch races of each of the sub-races of each of the root-races of humanity; and must, in short, live, or, as our author expresses the idea, be incarnated about eight hundred times—some more and some less—upon this planet, before the hour will come when it will be permitted to him, by a path as easy of passage for him then, as is that followed by the rays of light, to visit the planet Mercury, for his next two million years of existence.
Through each of these eight hundred mortal lives, man is purifying and developing his nature. When, at the end of each, his body dies, his higher principles leave the lower to gradual dissolution, while they themselves remaining still bound in space to this planet, pass into Devachan, the state of effects. Here, entirely unconscious of what passes on earth, the soul remains, absorbed in its own subjectivity. For a length of time, stated as never less than fifteen hundred years, and shown by figures to average not less than eight thousand, the soul, enjoying in its own contemplation those things it most desired in mortal life, surrounded in its own imagination by the friends and the scenes it has loved on earth, reaps the exact reward of its own deeds. When Nature has thus paid the laborer his hire, when his power of enjoyment has exhausted itself, the soul passes by a gradual process into oblivion of all the past—an oblivion from which it returns only on its approach to Nirvana—and waits the moment for reincarnation. Yet it comes not again to conscious life, unaffected by the forgotten past. Karma,—the resultant of its upward or downward tendencies,—which has been accumulating through all the course of its existence, remains; and the new-born man comes into visible being with good or evil propensities, the balance of which is to be affected by the struggles of one more mortal phase of existence. Thus we go on through one life after another, each time a new person yet the same human soul, ignorant of our own past lives, yet never free from their influence upon our character, exactly as in mature life we have absolutely forgotten what happened to us in our infancy, yet are never free from its influence. In Devachan, which corresponds, says our author, to what in other religions is the final and eternal heaven, we receive, from time to time, the reward of our deeds done in the body, yet still pass on with all our upward or downward tendencies until, many millions of years in the future, during our next passage through life on this planet, we shall come to the crisis in our existence which shall determine whether we are to become gods or demons.
Let me now turn back the page of history. A little more than one million years ago this earth was covered, as now, with vegetable forms, and was the dwelling of animals, as numerous, perhaps, and as various as now; but there was no humanity. The time was come when man, who had passed already three times round the planetary chain, and was nearly half way through his fourth round, should again make his appearance on the scene. Nature works only in her own way, and that way is uniform. The first man must be born of parents already living. As there are no human parents, he must be born of lower animals, and of those lower animals most nearly resembling the coming human animal. Darwin has told us what the animal was, yet the new being was a man and not an ape, because, in addition to its animal soul, it was possessed also of a human soul. We all know that man is an animal. Those modern students of science, who affirm that that is the whole truth of human nature, take a lower view of their own being than the Indian philosophers. Man is an animal plus a human and a spiritual soul.
Behold, now, the earth peopled by man. Through seven races must he pass, each with its various branches. Yet these races are not contemporaneous; for Nature is in no hurry. One race comes forward at a time, reaches the height of its possibility, then passes away during great physical transformations, and leaves but a wreck behind to live, and witness, in some new part of earth, the coming of another race. These races and branch races and sub-branch races are to be animated by the same identical souls. Hence, one race at a time; at first, even, one sub-race only, for the next is to be of a higher order. After each root-race has run its course, the earth has always been prepared by a great geological convulsion for the next. In this convulsion has perished all that makes up what we call civilization, yet not all men then living. Since some souls are slower than others, all are not ready to pass into the second race, when the time for that race has come. Hence fragments of old races survive, kept up for a time by the incarnation of the laggard souls whose progress has been too slow. Thus, we are told, although the first and second root-races have now entirely disappeared, there still remain relics of the third and fourth. The proper seat of this third root-race was that lost continent which Wallace told us, long ago, stood where now roll the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, south and southwest of Asia. Here we have, in the degraded Papuan and Australian, the remainder of the third race. Degraded I call him, because his ancestors, though inferior to the highest races of to-day, were far in advance of him. So it must always be. Destroy the accumulations of the highest race of men now living, and the next generation will be barbarians; the second, savages.
The fourth root-race inhabited the famous, but no longer fabulous, Atlantis, now sunk, in greater part, beneath the waters of the Atlantic. Fragments of this race were left in Northern Africa, though perhaps none now remain there, and we are told that there is a remnant in the heart of China. From the relics of the African branch of this root-race, the old Egyptian priests had knowledge regarding the sunken continent, knowledge which was no fable, but the traditionary lore and history of the survivors of the lost Atlantis.
Such is, in brief, an outline of the nature, history, and destiny of man, as the Buddhist relates it. How has he obtained his knowledge? By means which, he says, are within the reach of any one. First, of the history: it is said to be well authenticated tradition. Of the actual knowledge of former races, the Egyptian priests were the repositories, inheriting their information from the Atlantids. Of human nature and destiny the Buddhist would say: Here are the facts, look about you and see. From a theory of astronomy, or botany, or chemistry, we find an explanation of facts, and these facts explained, confirm and establish the theory. So, too, of man, here is the view, once a theory, but now as firmly established as the law of gravitation. Besides, by study and contemplation, the expert has developed, in advance of the age in which he lives, his spiritual soul, and this opens to him sources of information which place him on a higher level in point of knowledge than the rest of mankind, just as the man with seeing eyes has possibilities of information which are absolutely closed to one born blind.
Let me stop here to explain more fully what is the spiritual soul. I should call it, using a term that seems to me more natural to our vocabulary, the transcendental sense. In the reality of such a sense I am a firm believer. It was once fashionable to ridicule whatever was thought, or nicknamed, transcendental. Yet transcendentalism seems to me the only complete bar to modern scepticism. Faith, in the highest Christian sense, is transcendental. We know some things for which we can bring no evidence, things the truth of which lies not in logic, nor even in intellect. The intellect never gave man any firm conviction of God's being. Paley's mode of reasoning never brought conviction to any man's mind. At best, it only serves to confirm belief, to stifle doubt, to silence logic misapplied. Faith is the action of the spiritual sense—or, as the Buddhist says, the spiritual soul. It seems to me that it is a fair statement, that every man who has a conviction of the being of God, has that conviction from inspiration. Many people have it, or think they have it, as a result of reasoning, or it has been, they say, grounded and rooted in their minds by the earliest teaching. There are those, perhaps, who have no other reason than this tradition, for their supersensuous ideas. Such people, as soon as they come to reason seriously on or about those ideas, begin to doubt and to lose their hold. But others have a conviction regarding things unseen, that no reasoning can shake, except for a moment; because their belief, though it may have been originally the result of early teaching, is now established on other foundations. One can no more tell how he knows some things, than he can tell how he sees; yet he does know them, and all the world cannot get the knowledge out of him. The source of this knowledge is transcendental. It is a sixth sense. It is what the Buddhist calls an activity of the spiritual, as distinct from the human, soul. By his animal soul man has knowledge of the world around him; he sees, he hears, he feels bodily pain or pleasure; by his human soul, he reasons, he receives the conceptions of geometry or the higher mathematics; by his spiritual soul, he comes to a conception of God and of his attributes, and receives impressions whose source is unknown to him because his spiritual soul, in this his fourth planetary round, is, as yet, only imperfectly active. The reality of the spiritual soul, the vehicle of inspiration, the source of faith, is the only earnest man has for this trust in the Divine Father. It is not developed in us as it will be in our next round through earthly life, when, by its awakening, faith will become sight, and we shall know even as we are known. Yet some there are, say the Buddhists, who have, by effort, already pushed their development to the point that most men will reach millions of years hence, when we shall return again, not to this life—that we shall do perhaps in a few thousand years—but to this planet.
It will be seen that the Buddhist idea of spirituality is very unlike our Christian idea. The thought of man's higher sense striving after the Divine, the whole conception, in short, of what the word spirituality suggests to modern thought, is impossible in a system of philosophy which has no personal God. To apply the term religion to a scheme which has no place for the dependence of man upon a conscious protector, is to use the word in a sense entirely new to us. Buddhism—notwithstanding its claims to revelation—is a philosophy, not a religion.
I have sketched, as well as I can in so short a time, what seem to me the main points in the book under review. There are many things unexplained. Of some of them, the author claims to have no knowledge. Others he does not make clear; but, "take it for all in all," the hook will probably give the reader a very great number of suggestions. I am heterodox enough to say that if the idea of a personal God, the Father of all, were superadded to the system (or perhaps I ought to say were substituted for the idea of absorption into Nirvana), there would be nothing in Buddhism contradictory of Christianity. What orthodox Christians of the present day and of this country believe with regard to eternal punishment is a question about which they do not altogether agree among themselves. Whether the so-called hell is a place of everlasting degradation, is a point on which those who cannot deny to each other the name of Christian are not in accord. Why, then, should it be thought heretical to maintain that the future world of rewards is also not eternal? I believe that the Christian Scriptures use the same words with reference to both conditions—
"[Greek: To pyr to aionion:—eis xoen aionion.]"
The Buddhist denial of the eternity of the condition next following the separation of soul and body cannot, I think, be pronounced a subversion of Christian doctrine by any one who will admit that the Greek word [Greek: aionios] may mean something less than endless.
Of the antiquity of Buddhistic philosophy, I have already spoken indirectly. Buddha came upon the earth only 643 B.C. But he was not the founder of the system. His purpose in reincarnating himself at that time was to reform the lives of men. Doubtless he made many explanations of doctrine, perhaps gave some new teaching; but the philosophy comes down to us from, at least, the times of the fourth root-race, the men of Atlantis.
However we may regard a claim to so great age, a little reflection will convince us that the Buddhistic view of what may fairly be called the natural history of the human soul is very old, for it seems to have been essentially the doctrine of Pythagoras, who was not its founder, but who may have got it either from Egypt or from India, since he visited and studied in both those countries. If, as Sinnett asserts, the true Chinese belong to the fourth root-race, as appears not improbable, did not the system come into India from China? Plato was a Buddhist, says our author. Quintilian, perhaps getting his idea from Cicero, says of Plato that he learned his philosophy from the Egyptian priests. It is much more probable that the latter received it from the Atlantids—if we are to believe in them—than that it came from India. Indeed, when we seem to trace the same teachings to the Indians, on the one side, and to the Egyptians on the other, putting the one, through Thibet,—the land, above all others, of occult science,—into communication with the true Chinese, and the other, through their tradition, with the lost race of the Atlantic, the asserted history of the fourth root-race of humanity assumes a very attractive degree of reasonableness.
That Cicero held to the Buddhist doctrines at points so important as to make it improbable that he did not have esoteric teaching in the system, any one will, I believe, admit, who will read the last chapter of the Somnium Scipionis. And Cicero's ideas must have been those of the students and scholars of his day. He puts them forward in a manner too commonplace, too much as if they were things of course, for us to suppose that there was anything unusual in them. On this subject of the wide extension of that philosophy which in India we call Buddhism, I will make only one other suggestion. It is the guess that it lay at the foundation of the famous Eleusinian Mysteries.
Let me now come back to the idea that the succession of human races upon this earth is, like that of animal races, a development. Sinnett tells us that what we recognize as language began with the third root-race. I imagine that the preceding races had, in progressive development, some vocal means of communication; for we find that even the lower animals have that, and the lowest man of the first race was superior to the highest possible animal, by the very fact that he had developed a human soul. Now, we are told that the home of the third race was on the continent "Lemuria," which stretched across the Indian Ocean. I imagine the Tasmanians, the Papuans, and the degraded races of that part of the world to be fragments of the third race. Query: Is the famous click of the Zulu a remainder of the gradual passage from animal noise to human articulation in speech?
Again, the true Chinese belong to the fourth root-race. They have reached the height of their possible intellectual advance. They have been stationary for untold centuries. Query: Does this account for their apparent inability to develop their language beyond the monosyllable?
There are, have been, or will be, seven branches to each of the seven great races. These branches must originate at long intervals of time, one after the other, though several may be running their course at the same moment. For instance, the second race could not come into the world, until some human souls had passed at least twice, as we are told, through "the world of effects." This would occupy at least sixteen thousand years, according to our author's calculation, though he does not claim to have on this point exact information. He says, only, that the initiated know exactly the periods of time: but they are withheld from him. Now, according to a French savant, geological investigation proves that the Aryan race—branch-race, I will call it—was preceded in Europe by at least three others, whose remains are found in the caves or strata that have been examined. Of these the first has entirely disappeared: no representatives of it are now to be found in any known part of the world. The second was driven, apparently, from the north, by the invasions of the ice, during the glacial period and spread as far, at least, as the Straits of Gibraltar. With the disappearance of the ice, they also traveled toward the pole, and are now existing in the northern regions of the earth, under the name of Esquimaux. Following them came a race, the fragments of which were powerful within historic days in the Iberian peninsula,—the Iberians of the Roman writers—the Basques of to-day. Then came from the east the Aryan race, hitherto the highest form of humanity. These races do not, of course, begin existence as new creations. They are developed from—their first members must be born from—the preceding race. Query: Is a fifth race now in the throes of nativity? Have the different sub-races of the Aryan branch sent their contingents to the New World, that from the mixture of their boldest and most vigorous blood the fifth sub-race might have its origin? "Westward the star of empire takes its way."
Buddhism gives a peculiar explanation of the disappearance of inferior races. Since the object of the incarnation of the human soul is its progress toward the perfect and divine man; since every human soul must dwell on earth as a member of each one of the sub-races, the time must come when all shall have passed through a given stage. Then there can be no more births into that race. There is, at this moment, a finite number of human souls whose existence is limited to this planet, and no other planet in our chain is at present the abode of humanity. For the larger part of all these souls—at least nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand—are, at anyone instant, existing in "the world of effects," in Devachan. All will remain linked by their destiny to this planet, until the moment when all—a few rare, unfortunate, negligent laggards excepted—shall have passed through their last mortal probation, in the seventh root-race. Then will the tide of humanity overflow to the planet Mercury, and this earth, abandoned by conscious men, will for a million years fall back into desolation, gradually deprived of all life, even of all development. In that condition it will remain, sleeping, as it were, for ages—"not dead, but sleeping"; for the germs of mineral, vegetable, and animal life will await, quiescent, until the tide of human soul shall have passed around the chain, and is again approaching our globe. Then will earth awake from its sleep. In successive eons, the germs of life, mineral, vegetable, and animal, in their due order, will awake; the old miracle of creation will begin again, but on a higher plan than before, until, at last, the first human being—something vastly higher in body, mind, and spirituality than the former man—will make his appearance on the new earth. From this explanation of the doctrine that life moves not by a steady flow, but by what Sinnett calls gushes, it follows, of course, that there must come a time when each race, and each sub-race, must have finished its course, completed its destiny. There are no more human souls in Devachan to pass through that stage of progress. For a long time the number has been diminishing, and that race has been losing ground. Now it has come to its end. So, within a hundred years, has passed away the Tasmanian. So, to-day, are passing many races. The disappearance of a lower race is therefore no calamity; it is evidence of progress. It means that that long line of undeveloped humanity must go up higher. "That which thou sowest, is not quickened except it die." If there be "joy among the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth," why not when the whole human race, to the last man, has passed successfully up into a higher class in the great school?
I am constantly turning back to a thought that I have passed by. Let me now return to the consideration of Buddhism as a religion. It is evident that, viewed on this side, Buddhism is one thing to the initiated, another to the masses. So was the religion of the Romans, so is Christianity. It is necessarily so. No two persons receive the formal creed of the same church in the same way. The man of higher grade, and the man of lower, cannot understand things in the same sense because they have not the same faculties for understanding. Hence the polytheism among those called Buddhists. There could be no such thing among the initiated. Religion, then, like everything else, is subject to growth. Such must be the Buddhist doctrine. If, then, Buddhism, or the philosophy which bears that name, originated with the fourth root-race of men, does it not occur to the initiated that the fifth race ought, by this same theory, to develop a higher form of truth? Looking at the matter merely on its intellectual side, ought not the higher development of the power of thought to bring truer conceptions of the highest things? Again, a query: Is the rise of the Brahmo-Somaj a step toward the practical extension of Christianity into the domain of Buddhism?
This brings to discussion the whole question of the work done by missionary effort among the lower races. I do not mean the question whether we should try to Christianize them, but what result is it reasonable to expect. And here I imagine that there is a strict limit, beyond which it is impossible for the members of a given race to be developed. On the Buddhist principle, given a certain human being, and we have a human soul passing through a definite stage of its progress. While it occupies its present body it is, except, our author always says, in very peculiar cases, incapable of more than a certain advance,—as incapable as a given species of animal, or tree, or even as the body of the man itself is incapable of more than a certain growth. I think that any one who has studied or observed the processes of ordinary school training, must have been sometimes convinced that he has in hand a boy whose ability to be further advanced has come to an end. Sometimes we find a boy who will come forward with the greatest promise; but, at a certain point, although goodwill is not lacking, the growth seems to be arrested. The biologist will explain this as due to the physical character of the brain. The Buddhist affirms, that when that human soul last came from the oblivion which closes the Devachanic state, it chose unconsciously, but by natural affinity, out of all the possible conditions and circumstances of mortal life, that embryonic human body, for which its spiritual condition rendered it fit.
Some years ago, in conversation with a missionary who had spent many years in China, I asked him, having this subject in my mind, whether he thought that his converts were capable of receiving Christianity in the sense in which he himself held the faith. His answer, which he illustrated by instances, was that the heathen conceptions and propensities could not be entirely eradicated; and that, under unfavorable circumstances, the most trusted converts would sometimes relapse into a condition as bad as ever they had known.
It is also a matter of common assertion that our American Indians, after years of training in the society of civilized life, are generally ready to fall back at once to their old ways. What we call civilization is to them but an easy-fitting garment.
I do not know what is the belief of scholars regarding the comparative age of the different minor divisions—sub-branches, as Sinnett calls them—of the Aryan race. I imagine, however, that of the European sub-branches, the Celtic is practically the oldest. The Italic or Hellenic may have broken off from the parent stem earlier than the Celtic, but they have not wandered so far away, and have not been so isolated from the influence of later migrations. The Celtic race has mingled its blood with the Iberian in Spain and with many elements in Gaul and Italy; but in the northwest of Europe, on its own peculiar isle, it seems to have remained, if not purer than elsewhere, at least less affected by mixture with later, that is, higher, races.
What is the practical use of all this study? Ever since I first read Esoteric Buddhism, my attention has been turned to the confirmation of its theory of human development. As I ride in the horse-car, as I walk on the street, still more constantly as I stand before one class after another in the school-room, I am struck with the thought that here, behind the face I am looking into, is a human soul whose capacities are limited—a soul that cannot grasp the thought which catches like a spark upon the mind of its next neighbor. Yet that half-awakened soul is destined to work its way through all the phases of human possibility, and reach at last the harbor of peace. This thought should make one ashamed to be impatient or negligent. Why should one lose patience with this boy's inability to learn, more than at the inanimate obstacle in one's pathway? How can one be unfaithful in one's effort, when it may be the means of lessening the number of times that that poor soul must pass through earthly life?
Do I believe in the teachings of this book? I do not know. So far as the doctrine of repeated incarnation goes, I hold it to be not inconsistent with Christianity; but rather an explanation of Christ's coming upon earth at the precise time when he did. I still hold the subject of Buddhistic philosophy as a matter for very serious and edifying reflection.
* * * * *
COLONEL FLETCHER WEBSTER.
By Charles Cowley, LL.D.
FLETCHER WEBSTER, son of Daniel and Grace (Fletcher) Webster, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, July 23, 1813. He was but three years old when his father removed to Boston, where he was fitted for college in the Public Latin School,—the nursery of so many eminent men.
On the seventeenth of June, 1825, when Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the monument on Bunker Hill, when Daniel Webster delivered one of the most famous of his orations, Fletcher Webster, then twelve years old, was present. "The vast procession, impatient of unavoidable delay, broke the line of march, and, in a tumultuous crowd, rushed towards the orator's platform," which was in imminent danger of being crushed to the earth. Fletcher Webster was only saved from being trampled under foot, by the thoughtful care of George Sullivan, who lifted the boy upon his own shoulders, shouting, "Don't kill the orator's son!" and bore him through the crowd, and placed him upon the staging at his father's feet. It required the utmost efforts of Daniel Webster to control that multitudinous throng. "Stand back, gentlemen!" he repeatedly shouted with his double-bass voice; "you must stand back!" "We can't stand back, Mr. Webster; it is impossible!" cried a voice in the crowd. Mr. Webster replied, in tones of thunder: "On Bunker Hill nothing is impossible." And the crowd stood back.
At the age of sixteen, he lost his mother by death. This was the greatest of all the calamities that happened to his father, and it was not less unfortunate for himself, for it deprived him of the best influence that ever contributed to mould his career.
In 1829, Fletcher Webster entered Harvard College, and was graduated in the class of 1833, when he delivered the class oration, which Charles Sumner, who was present, said "was characterized by judgment, sense, and great directness and plainness of speech."
While at college, he was distinguished for his fine social qualities, for his exquisite humor, and peculiar "Yankee wit." When participating in amateur theatrical exhibitions, he always preferred to play the role of the typical Yankee,—a character now extinct,—which he played to perfection.
As the son of Daniel Webster, he might almost be said to have inherited the profession of the law, and in 1836 he was admitted to the bar. In the same year he married the wife who survives him—a grandniece of Captain White, who was so atrociously murdered at Salem, six years before, and whose murderers might have escaped the gallows but for the genius and astuteness of Daniel Webster.
The Western States, which are now Central States, were then attracting millions of the young and the enterprising from New England; and Fletcher Webster began the practice of the law at Detroit, Michigan. But at the close of the year 1837, he removed to Peru, Illinois, where he remained three years. During that period, he made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, then a struggling lawyer at the Sangamon County bar. No man upon this planet had then less thought of becoming President of the United States than Abraham Lincoln; and no man had greater expectations of attaining that distinction than Mr. Webster's father; yet a master-stroke of the irony of destiny lifted the obscure Western attorney, not into the presidency merely, but into the highest place in the pantheon of American history, while it balked and mocked all the aspirations of New England's greatest son. Pondering on events like these, well did Horace Greeley exclaim: "Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; riches take wings: the only thing certain is oblivion."
In 1841, when his father became Secretary of State under President Harrison, Fletcher Webster relinquished his professional prospects in the West, and removed to Washington, where he acted as his father's assistant. From his father's verbal suggestions, he prepared diplomatic papers of the first importance; and no man could perform that delicate service more satisfactorily to his father than he. It is understood that the famous Hulseman Letter, which, more than anything else, distinguished Daniel Webster's second term of service in the department of State, was thus prepared.
Whether he or some one else prepared that extraordinary letter which was to introduce Caleb Cushing to the Emperor of China, which assumed that the Chinese were a nation of children, and which Chinese scholars treated as conclusive evidence that the Americans had not emerged from barbarism,—we know not. But if he did, he doubtless laughed at it afterward as a childish performance.
On the seventeenth of June, 1843, Fletcher Webster witnessed the laying of the capstone of the monument on Bunker Hill, and listened, with affectionate interest, to the oration which was then delivered by his father,—an oration which, if inferior to that delivered at the laying of the cornerstone, was nevertheless every way worthy of the man and the occasion,—simple, massive, and splendid. A few weeks later, he sailed from Boston for China, and watched, as he tells us, "while light and eyesight lasted, till the summit of that monument faded, at last, from view." Many a departing, many a returning, sailor and traveler, has given his "last, long, lingering look" to that towering obelisk, but none with deeper feeling than Fletcher Webster.
As secretary to Commissioner Cushing, he assisted in negotiating the first treaty between the United States and China, which involved an absence of eighteen months from the United States. Neither the outward nor the homeward voyage was made in company with Mr. Cushing. Mr. Webster left Boston, August 8, 1843, in the brig Antelope, built by Captain R.B. Forbes, touched at Bombay, November 12, 1843, and arrived at Canton, February 4, 1844. He returned in the ship Paul Jones, in January, 1845, the voyage from Canton to New York being made in one hundred and eleven days. It deserves to be stated, as illustrating the admiration with which the merchant princes of Boston regarded Daniel Webster, that the house of Russell and Company, which owned both the Antelope and the Paul Jones, refused to accept any passage-money from his son, who was entertained, not as a passenger, but as an honored guest.
By his voyage to China and by his experiences there, Mr. Webster, acquired, not only rich stores of curious information and a great enlargement of his intellectual horizon, but—what is particularly to be noted—a better appreciation of the splendid destiny of his native land. Unlike many foolish Americans, who waste their time in foreign capitals, he never harbored the slightest regret that he had not been born something other than an American; he never desired to be anything but a free citizen of the great republic of the West.
He prepared a lecture on China, which he delivered in many of the cities and large towns. Mr. Cushing had already entered the lecture field with a discourse on China, and some thought Mr. Webster presumptuous in thus inviting comparison between his own discourse and Mr. Cushing's. But competent critics, who heard both these efforts, expressed a preference for that of Mr. Webster. Vast as was Mr. Cushing's learning, his oratorical style was never one of the best; while Fletcher Webster's style, for clearness, simplicity, strength, and majesty, was little inferior to that of his illustrious father. He afterward expanded this lecture to the dimensions of a book, but never published it; and, in 1878, this manuscript, and all others left by him, perished by the fire which destroyed the Webster House at Marshfield. One of the few scraps which have survived this fire is a Latin epitaph which he wrote for his father's horse, Steamboat,—a horse of great speed and endurance,—and which seldom lay down at night unless he had been overdriven. In English, it ran thus: "Stop, traveler, for a greater traveler than thou stops here."
On the Fourth of July, 1845, Charles Sumner delivered, before the municipal authorities of Boston, an oration on Peace, which provoked much hostile criticism; and on the next succeeding anniversary of American Independence, Fletcher Webster delivered an oration on War, which was designed to show that there are cases "where war, with all its woes, must be endured."
It is probably the only elaborate discourse of his, which has been preserved entire. It contains many quotable passages; but we must content ourselves with the following, which are quite in his father's style:—
"We meet to brighten the memories of a glorious past, to strengthen ourselves in our onward progress, to remember great enterprises, to look forward to a great career."
"We celebrate no single triumph, but the result of a long series of victories; we celebrate the memory of no mere successful battle, but the great triumph of a people; the victory of liberty over oppression, won by suffering and struggle and death; the fruit of high sentiment, of resolute patriotism, of consummate wisdom, of unshaken faith and trust in God,—a victory and a triumph not for us only, but for all the oppressed, everywhere, and for every age to come, ... a victory whose future results to us and to others no imagination can foresee, and which are yet but commencing to unfold themselves."
"And does any one believe that these results [to wit, the winning of American independence, and the building of the American nation] could have been attained in any other method than by arms and successful physical resistance."
In 1847, he held the only political office to which he was ever elected by popular suffrage,—that of representative in the Legislature. In 1850, he was appointed surveyor of the port of Boston by President Taylor, and he was reappointed to the same office by Presidents Pierce and Buchanan successively. There were many who would have been glad to see him in a larger sphere, but "the mark which he made upon his times," as Mr. Hillard observes, was less than his friends had anticipated. Occasionally he appeared as an orator in political campaigns, notably in 1856, at Exeter, in his native State, where he spoke with laudable pride of having "sat at the feet of a great statesman now no more."
The son of Martin Van Buren and the son of Levi Woodbury united their voices on that occasion with the voice of the son of Webster. A striking remark then made by him is well remembered. Referring to the speech of Senator Sumner, which excited the assault of Mr. Brooks, Mr. Webster said, "If I had been going to make such a speech, I should have worn an iron pot upon my head."
In 1857, he published two volumes of the Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. In editing the papers of such a man, it is not difficult to make a "spicy" book. Witness McVey Napier's Edinburgh Review correspondence and Mr. Fronde's Carlyle correspondence. They have spared no one's feelings. They have paraded hasty expressions of transient spleen, which the authors would blush to read, except, perhaps, at the moment of writing. Mr. Webster has shown us a more excellent way, though it may be less profitable. "With charity for all, with malice for none," he carefully excised from his father's correspondence every passage tending to rekindle the fire of any former personal controversy in which his father had engaged. In this, perhaps, he followed the behests of his father, who evinced, as he approached the tomb, an earnest desire for reconciliation with all with whom he had had differences, illustrating the Scottish proverb, "The evening brings all home."
When the disruption of the Union came to be attempted, none of us who knew Fletcher Webster doubted for a moment what position he would take. The same "passionate and exultant nationality," which had nerved him to bear the loss of friends at the North, and to forego the chance of a public career, rather than countenance any measure calculated to excite ill-will at the South, now prompted him to advocate military coercion for the preservation of the Union. Notwithstanding President Lincoln had just deprived him of the office upon which he depended for the maintenance of his family, he did not hesitate to tender to the administration his personal support in the field.
In the oration already quoted, he had said: "There are certain ultimate rights which must be maintained; and when force is brought to overthrow them, it must be resisted by force." Among the rights which must thus be maintained, in his view, was the right of the United States to maintain, forever, the union of these States. The policy of coercion, bitterly as he bewailed its necessity, was not new to him. His father had advocated the Force Bill almost thirty years before. The time had come, when, in the words of Jefferson (words spoken when only the Articles of Confederation held the States in union): "Some of the States must see the rod; perhaps some of them must feel it." Accordingly, on the twentieth of April, 1861, while the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the attack on the Sixth Regiment were firing the Northern heart, Fletcher Webster called that memorable Sunday-morning meeting in State Street, which resulted in the organization of the Twelfth Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry. Referring to that occasion, George S, Hillard said it recalled to the minds of those present, Colonel Webster's father, who had then been but nine years in the grave. "To the mind's eye, that majestic form and grand countenance seemed standing by the side of his son; and in the mind's ear, they heard again the deep music of that voice which had so often charmed and instructed them."
Colonel Webster said: "He whose name I bear had the good fortune to defend the Union and the Constitution in the forum. That I cannot do, but I am ready to defend them in the field." Like other national men, he refused to listen to the "sixty-day" prattle by which others were deceived. He saw that by no "summer excursion to Moscow" could the Southern Confederacy be suppressed; that immense forces would be marshalled in aid of that Confederacy; and that the war for the Union, like the war for Independence, would be won only by 'suffering, and struggle, and death.
Ten years earlier, it seemed to Rufus Choate as if the hoarded-up resentments and revenges of a thousand years were about to unsheath the sword for a conflict, "in which the blood should flow, as in the Apocalyptic vision, to the bridles of the horses; in which a whole age of men should pass away; in which the great bell of time should sound out another hour; in which society itself should be tried by fire and steel, whether it were of Nature and of Nature's God, or not."
Such a conflict was indeed impending, and Fletcher Webster appreciated its extreme gravity, when, from the balcony of the Old State House, on that Sunday morning, he made his stirring appeal: "Let us show the world that the patriotism of '61 is not less than that of '76; that the noble impulses of those patriot hearts have descended to us."
On the eighteenth of July, 1861, Edward Everett presented to Colonel Webster a splendid regimental flag, the gift of the ladies of Boston to the Twelfth Regiment. It need not be said that the presentation speech of Mr. Everett, and the reception speech of Colonel Webster, were of the first order. But not even the words of a Webster or an Everett could adequately express the profound emotion of the vast concourse of people then assembled. For it was one of those occasions when, as the elder Webster said, "Words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible."
History will transmit the fact that on that day the simple, homely, stirring, and inspiring melody of Old John Brown was heard for the first time by the people of Boston. It was a surprising and a gladsome spectacle—a regiment bearing Daniel Webster's talismanic name, commanded by his only surviving son, carrying a banner prepared by the fairest daughters of Massachusetts, carrying also the benediction of Edward Everett, and of "the solid men of Boston," and marching to the tune of Old John Brown! Did the weird prophet-orator who spoke of "carrying the flag and keeping step to the music of the Union" ever dream of such a strange combination?
On the seventeenth of June, 1861, by invitation of Governor Andrew, Colonel Webster spoke on Bunker Hill: "From this spot I take my departure, like the mariner commencing his voyage, and wherever my eyes close, they will be turned hitherward towards this North; and, in whatever event, grateful will be the reflection, that this monument still stands—still, still is glided by the earliest beams of the rising sun, and that still departing day lingers and plays upon its summit."
After referring to the two former occasions when he had visited that historic shaft, when his father had spoken there, he added, "I now stand again at its base, and renew once more, on this national altar, vows, not for the first time made, of devotion to my country, its Constitution and Union."
With these words upon his lips, with these sentiments in his heart, and in the hearts of the thousand brave men of his command, Colonel Webster went forth, the dauntless champion and willing martyr of the Union. Except that the death of a beloved daughter brought him back for a few days to his family in the following summer, the people of Massachusetts saw his living face no more.
On the thirtieth of August, 1862, the second day of the second battle of Bull Run, late in the afternoon, while gallantly directing the movements of his regiment, and giving his orders in those clear, firm, ringing tones, which, in the tumult of battle, fall so gratefully on the soldier's ear, Colonel Webster was shot through the body; and the Federal forces being closely pressed at the time, he was left to die on the field in Confederate hands. As the event became known through the country, thousands of generous hearts, in the South as well as in the North, recalled the peroration of his father's reply to Hayne, and bitterly regretted that, when his eyes were turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, it had been his unhappy lot to "see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union, on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent, on a land rent with internal feuds, and drenched [as then it was] with fraternal blood."
In the time-honored song of Roland, we are told, "Count Roland lay under a pine-tree dying, and many things came to his remembrance." As it was with Count Roland in Spain, so it was with Colonel Webster in Virginia. In the multitude of memories which rushed upon him as he lay dying on that ill-starred battle-field, we may be sure that Boston, Bunker Hill, and the home and grave of Marshfield, were not forgotten.
The body of Colonel Webster was willingly given up by the Confederates, and after lying in state in Faneuil Hall, and adding another to the immortal recollections which ennoble "the cradle of liberty," it was buried near his father's grave by the sea.
The Grand Army Post at Brockton, containing survivors of the Webster Regiment, has adopted Colonel Webster's name; and on each Memorial Day, members of this Post make a pilgrimage to Marshfield to decorate his grave. His life is remarkable for its apparent possibilities rather than for its actual achievements,—for the capabilities which were recognized in him, rather than for what he accomplished, either in public or professional life. His military career was cut short by a Confederate bullet before opportunity demonstrated that capacity for high command, which his superior officers, as well as his soldiers, believed him to possess. The instincts of the soldier are often as trustworthy as the judgment of the commander. All his soldiers loved him,—
—"honored him, followed him, Dwelt in his mild and magnificent eye, Heard his great language, caught his clear accents, Made him their pattern to do and to die."
While the regret still lingers, that he was not permitted to witness, and to contribute further effort to secure, the triumph, which he predicted, of the cause for which he died—that regret is mitigated by the reflection, that he could never have died more honorably than in a war which could only have been avoided by the sacrifice of the Constitution and the Union.
[Footnote 1: This banner now hangs in the Doric Hall at the State House, where its mute eloquence has often started tears, and "thoughts too deep for tears," in many a casual visitor.]
* * * * *
By the Rev. Josiah Lafayette Seward, A.M.
The valuable histories of Harvard University, by Quincy, Peirce, and Eliot, and the wonderfully full and accurate sketches of the early graduates, by John Langdon Sibley, the venerable librarian emeritus, are treasuries of interesting information in regard to the early customs and the first presidents and pupils of that institution. From these various works we have gathered the following items of interest, which we will give, without stopping at every step to indicate the authorities. Mr. Sibley has preserved the ancient spelling, which is so quaint, that we shall attempt to reproduce it.
October 28, 1636, the General Court of Massachusetts "agreed to give 400 (pounds) toward a schoale or colledge, whearof 200 (pounds) to be paid the next yeare, & 200 when the worke is finished, & the next Court to appoint wheare & what building." On November 15, 1637, the "Colledg is ordered to be at Newtowne." On November 20, 1637, occurs the following record of the General Court: "The Governor Mr. Winthrope, the Deputy Mr. Dudley, the Treasurer Mr. Bellingham, Mr. Humfrey, Mr. Herlakenden, Mr. Staughton, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Damport, Mr. Wells, Mr. Sheopard, & Mr. Peters, these, or the greater part of them, whereof Mr. Winthrope, Mr. Dudley, or Mr. Bellingham, to bee alway one, to take order for a colledge at Newtowne."
May 2, 1638, the General Court changed the name of Newtowne to Cambridge, and, on March 13, 1639, "It is ordered that the Colledge agreed upon formerly to be built at Cambridge shall bee called Harvard Colledge." It appears that before this time there had been a school; but the name of college was not assumed until the above date. The teacher of this school was Mr. Nathaniel Eaton, who has left an unenviable reputation, and made an inauspicious beginning of that institution which was to attain to such distinction. He finally got into serious trouble, in consequence of his brutal conduct and for one act in particular, which led to his leaving the school and town. Governor Winthrop, in his History of New England has given a graphic description of the event, which Mr. Sibley has also reproduced, in a note, and which will interest more readers than would ever have the privilege of reading either work. I will therefore give the extract in full. Speaking of Eaton and the pupil whom he punished, Winthrop says: "The occasion was this: He was a schoolmaster and had many scholars, the sons of gentlemen and others of best note in the country, and had entertained one Nathaniel Briscoe, a gentleman born, to be his usher, and to do some other things for him, which might not be unfit for a scholar. He had not been with him above three days but he fell out with him for a very small occasion, and, with reproachful terms, discharged him, and turned him out of his doors; but, it being then about eight of the clock after the Sabbath, he told him he should stay till next morning, and, some words growing between them, he struck him and pulled him into his house. Briscoe defended himself and closed with him, and, being parted, he came in and went up to his chamber to lodge there. Mr. Eaton sent for the constable, who advised him first to admonish him, etc., and if he could not, by the power of a master, reform him, then he should complain to the magistrate. But he caused his man to fetch him a cudgel, which was a walnut tree plant, big enough to have killed a horse, and a yard in length, and, taking his two men with him, he went up to Briscoe, and caused his men to hold him till he had given him two hundred stripes about the head and shoulders, etc., and so kept him under blows (with some two or three short intermissions) about the space of two hours, about which time Mr. Shepherd (the clergyman) and some others of the town came in at the outcry, and so he gave over. In this distress Briscoe gate out his knife and struck at the man that held him, but hurt him not. He also fell to prayer, (supposing he should have been murdered), and then Mr. Eaton beat him for taking the name of God in Vain."
He was charged in open court with these cruelties to Briscoe, and it was there proved that he had been unusually cruel on other occasions, often punishing pupils with from twenty to thirty stripes, and never leaving them until they had confessed what he required. He was also charged with furnishing a scant diet to his pupil boarders, keeping them on porridge and pudding, though their parents were paying for better fare. He appears to have admitted the evil, butt threw the blame upon his wife. The court found him guilty. At first he denied his guilt. He was put in care of a marshal for safe keeping, and, on the following day, the court was informed that he had repented in tears. In the open court "he made a very solid, wise, eloquent, and serious (seeming) confession." The court was so much moved and pleased by this act of contrition that they only censured him and fined him twenty pounds and ordered the same amount to be paid to Briscoe. The church intended to "deal with him," but he fled to the Piscataqua settlements. He was apprehended, and promised to return to Cambridge, but finally escaped and fled, on a boat, to Virginia.
The college was named for the Reverend John Harvard, who came to this country from England in 1637, settled In Charlestown, and died the following year. He left a legacy, including his library, to the new institution of learning, which was a princely benefaction for the time. As a suitable recognition for this first large donation, the institution was called Harvard College. The exact place of Mr. Harvard's burial is unknown. It was somewhere "about the foot of Town Hill." It was in the old burial-ground near the old prison in Charlestown, in all probability, and the monument to his memory, if not over his grave, is likely very near it. The inscriptions on this monument explain the time and cause of its erection. On the eastern side of the shaft, looking toward the land of his birth and education, we read:—
"On the twenty-sixth day of September, A.D. 1828, this Stone was erected by Graduates of the University of Cambridge in honor of its founder, who died at Charlestown, on the twenty-sixth day of September, A.D. 1638."
This is in his mother-tongue. On the side looking toward the seat of learning which bears his name is the following inscription, in classic Latin:
"In piam et perpetuam memoriam Johannis Harvardii, annis fere ducentis post obitum ejus peractis, Academiae quae est Cantabrigiae Nov-Anglorum alumni, ne diutius vir de literis nostris optime meritus sine monumento quanivis humili jaceret, hunc lapidem ponendum curaverunt." The following is a literal translation:—
"In pious and perpetual remembrance of John Harvard, nearly two hundred years after his death, the alumni of the University at Cambridge, in New England, have erected this stone, that one who deserves the highest honors from our literary men may be no longer without a monument, however humble."
Edward Everett delivered the address at the dedication of the monument. The closing passage of his oration is as follows:—
"While the College which he founded shall continue to the latest posterity, a monument not unworthy of the most honored name, we trust that this plain memorial also will endure; and, while it guides the dutiful votary to the spot where his ashes are deposited, will teach to those who survey it the supremacy of intellectual and 'moral desert, and encourage them, too, by a like munificence, to aspire to a name as bright as that which stands engraven on its shaft,—
'Clarum et venerabile nomen Gentibus, et multum nostrae quod proderat urbi.'"
The citizens of New England entered most heartily into the idea of establishing this college and contributed whatever they could; utensils from their homes, stock from their farms, their goods, merchandise, anything, in fine, which they had to give, so anxious were they to educate their youth, and especially to provide for an educated ministry. Peirce, in his History of the college, says:—
"When we read of a number of sheep bequeathed by one man, of a quantity of cotton cloth worth nine shillings presented by another, of a pewter flagon worth ten shillings by a third, of a fruit-dish, a sugar-spoon, a silver-tipped jug, one great salt, and one small trencher salt, by others; and of presents or legacies, amounting severally to five shillings, one pound, two pounds, &c., all faithfully recorded with the names of the donors, we are at first tempted to smile; but a little reflection will soon change this, disposition into a feeling of respect and even of admiration."
"How just," says President Quincy, "is the remark of this historian! How forcible and full of noble example is the picture exhibited by these records? The poor emigrant, struggling for subsistence, almost houseless, in a manner defenceless, is seen selecting from the few remnants of his former prosperity, plucked by him out of the flames of persecution, and rescued from the perils of the Atlantic, the valued pride of his table, or the precious delight of his domestic hearth;—'his heart stirred and his spirit willing' to give according to his means, toward establishing for learning a resting-place, and for science a fixed habitation, on the borders of the wilderness!"
Mr. Sibley gives an extract from New England's First Fruits, a work printed in London, not long after the first class was graduated. It gives us the feelings of the emigrants about their new institution. It says:—
"After God had carried us safe to New England, and wee had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our liveli-hood, rear'd convenient places for God's worship, and settled the Civil Government; One of the next things we longed for, and looked after, was to advance LEARNING and to perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the Churches, when our present Ministers shall lie in the dust. And as wee were thinking and consulting how to effect this great Work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. HARVARD (a godly Gentleman, and a lover of learning, there living amongst us) to give the one halfe of his Estate (it being in all about 1700 pounds) toward the erecting of a Colledge, and all his Library." The edifice is described as "faire and comely within and without, having in it a spacious Hall, where they daily meet at Commons, Lectures, Exercises, and a large Library, with some books to it."
The rules and regulations of Harvard in early times are interesting to us of later generations. The following are specimens:—
"When any scholar is able to read Tully, or such like classical Latin author EXTEMPORE, and make and speak true Latin in verse and prose suo (ut aiunt) Marte, and decline perfectly the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue, then may he be admitted into the College, nor shall any claim admission before such qualifications."
"Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life."
"Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that they be ready to give an account of their proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of language and logic, and in practical and spiritual truths, as their Tutor shall require."
"They shall honor as their parents, magistrates, elders, tutors, and aged persons, by being silent in their presence (except they be called on to answer)."
"None shall pragmatically intrude or inter meddle in other men's affairs."
"No scholar shall buy, sell, or exchange any thing, to the value of sixpence, without the allowance of his parents, guardians or tutors."
"The scholars shall never use their mother tongue, except that in public exercise of oratory, or such like, they be called to make them in English."
"Every scholar, that on proof is found able to read the original of the Old and New Testament into the Latin tongue, and to resolve them logically, withal being of honest life and conversation, and at any public act hath the approbation of the Overseers and Master of the College, may be invested with his first degree."
"No scholar whatever, without the fore-acquaintance and leave of the President and his Tutor, or, in the absence of either of them, two of the Fellows shall be present at or in any of the public civil meetings, or concourse of people, as courts of justice, elections, fairs, or at military exercise, in the time or hours of the College exercise, public or private. Neither shall any scholar exercise himself in any military band, unless of known gravity, and of approved sober and virtuous conversation, and that with the leave of the President and his Tutor."
"No scholar shall take tobacco, unless permitted by the President, with the consent of their parents or guardians, and on good reason first given by a physician, and then in a sober and private mariner."
"No Freshman shall wear his hat in the College yard, unless it rains, hails, or snows, provided he be on foot and have not both hands full."
"Freshmen are to consider all the other classes as their Seniors."
"No Freshman shall speak to a Senior with his hat on; or have it on in a Senior's chamber, or in his own if a Senior be there."
"All Freshmen shall be obliged to go on any errand, for any of his Seniors, Graduates or Undergraduates, at any time, except in studying hours, or after nine o'clock in the evening."