OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
THE ARNOLD MANSION AND ITS TRADITIONS
by Zephaniah W. Pease
by Frank Wood, Curator of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
The Arnold Mansion and its Traditions
By Zephaniah W. Pease
Not unmindful of the fact that the Wamsutta Club introduced the game of baseball to this neighborhood, there is reason to say that the greatest public service the Wamsutta Club has performed is in taking over and preserving as a clubhouse the mansion of the late James Arnold along with a part of the park which surrounded his home.
The present generation has slight conception of the place this mansion and the gardens on the estate held in this community for nearly half a century during which period it was the home of Mr. Arnold. James Arnold died in 1868. James B. Congdon, the author of the city’s charter, who recorded with singular patience the most varied incidents of his lifetime, some of whose manuscripts enrich the archives of the Free Public Library, wrote an appreciation of Mr. Arnold. And this was the concluding paragraph of his eulogy:
“That beautiful residence, so long the home of all that can dignify and elevate humanity—the source from which for half a century there has flowed a bounty which in its influence was not confined to the children of want, is now without a tenant. It cannot long remain so. The lights of that beautiful home will, we hope, soon be rekindled and we feel an assurance which amounts to conviction, that the future of our city, as has been the past, will be blessed by the enlightened and beneficent influences which will flow from that spot so long consecrated to an active, widespread and enlightened hospitality and benevolence.”
Rev. William J. Potter preached in 1868 a discourse in the Unitarian Church to the memory of James Arnold. He, too, stressed the thought that “a home the most conspicuous among all our homes for culture, for hospitality, for charity, is utterly emptied and exists no more.” His peroration was an aspiration that the place which knew James Arnold and would now know him no more, might once again be radiant. This was the closing paragraph of Mr. Potter’s sermon:
“That dwelling will soon be closed. The fire will go out on the hearth. No light will shine from the windows. The doors will open to no appeal of woe. Through the long winter it will stand cold, dark, desolate shrouded in the silence of the grave. But is this the end? No, no, dear friends. Not more surely shall the springtime follow this winter; not more surely shall the dark, sere cemetery be beautiful again with green grass and red roses; not more surely shall the trees bud and the birds sing again around that dwelling, than that life shall come out of this death. Our memories even now people that mansion with precious forms of grace and intelligence and charity, and from its silence come voices that will forever plead with us for truer living. And if we will listen to these voices and learn well the lessons that they bear to us, it cannot be but that all our hearts will be richer with holier aspirations and the doors of all our homes be set a little more ajar to the hospitality, the culture, the charity, and to the living and working faith, which have given that home its fame and made it a blessed power for good in our city forever. So shall the virtues of the buried household not only still live on in the heavens, but be reborn in us who still stay upon the earth, and the darkened house shall become radiant with the life and immortality that have gone out from it, to be brought to light again in living character.”
These two quotations convey in some measure the place which the Arnold house filled in this community and must impress the present membership of this club with the heritage which comes in the possession of this property and the responsibility which the leaders of an ancient day adjured us to administer in the spirit of its great traditions.
The Wamsutta Club includes in its membership many of the descendants of the men who were the founders of the city—who have familiarity with the history and the names identified with it. But this is a changing world and when we departed from the brave industry which absorbed the fathers, and developed the manufacturing of cotton, it brought many new people who are unfamiliar with the early chapters of a wonderful story, who may not understand the reverence of the natives for the particular piece of real estate the club has acquired.
The story takes us back to the day when New Bedford was a town of stately mansions, a place of simplicity and peace, and at the same time a place of such beauty and distinction that its fame in that age is established in literature. Washington Irving was captivated and Herman Melville wrote “Nowhere in America will you find more patrician-like houses, parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford.” In the early years of its history the inhabitants of this country struggled for mere existence and there were few pretentious houses outside those in the vicinity of the earliest settlements in Virginia. We inherited ardent love for beautiful surroundings, but in a new world it was required that we should use our resources of enterprise and energy to subdue and improve its vast territory, and we had no leisure to cultivate the taste for fine dwellings and landscape embellishment. But in the older parts of the country as wealth accumulated and society became more fixed in character, it became possible for men of taste to indulge their fancies for the elegancies of life. This possibility came relatively early to New Bedford. Through the whaling industry, New Bedford grew to be the wealthiest city per capita in the country. The examples of classic architecture, which gave New Bedford its fame, were produced in the period following the war of 1812. This period of mansion building continued until 1850. Since that time we have been engaged in tearing down these impressive homes, cutting the estates into house lots for bungalows and apartment house monstrosities. In so far as architecture is concerned we have lost the immortal part of ourselves. A few of the many mansions have been spared and are the show places of the city.
James Arnold was not a native of New Bedford. He was the son of Thomas Arnold of Providence, a prominent member of the Society of Friends. He came to this city to enter the office of William Rotch, and married Sarah Rotch, the daughter of William Rotch Jr. The Rotches and Rodmans not only developed the business of whaling but they built one great mansion after another. Joseph Rotch came here from Nantucket in 1765 realizing this city was more eligible and advantageous for whaling than Nantucket. He built a mansion on Rotch’s Hill, Water Street, which the British burned in the Revolution. Then he built at the northwest corner of Union and Bethel Streets. William Rotch, his son, built in 1795 the mansion at the corner of Union and Second Streets, later an inn, the Mansion House, which fell into disrepute. The walls are standing, but it is submerged by a fringe of small shops. Great men were guests here. Count Rochambeau Liancourt and General Lincoln of Revolutionary memory who received the sword of Cornwallis and led him out as his prisoner at Yorktown. William Rotch Jr., built a mansion at the southwest corner of William and Water Streets. His daughter, who was James Arnold’s wife, gave this house to the Port Society in 1854, and it was moved to Johnny Cake Hill where it is still used as the Mariners’ Home. William Rotch Jr. also built the house on the east side of County Street, between Madison and Cherry Streets, now occupied by Miss Jones. It was regarded as the finest wooden dwelling in the city. He built other mansions for his sons, which have been demolished. The Rotches did a great deal for New Bedford. William Rotch Senior, who was the greatest financier of the family, had a fine comprehension of civil and political questions and possessed public spirit. The Rotches built the first Fairhaven bridge, founded banks, established the market place and built a rope walk and schools. Joseph Rotch established a ship building plant where the warehouse of the New Bedford Warehouse Company on Front Street is located. Under a clump of buttonwood trees he built the Dartmouth, one of the ships boarded in the Boston Tea Party. It was one of the ships of the Rotches, the Bedford, which was the first vessel to fly the American flag in British waters. The credit for much that New Bedford was and is was due to the enterprise of the Rotches. Governor Lincoln visited this city in 1825 accompanied by Josiah Quincy who recorded in his journal: “The governor’s reception, the courtesy of the selectmen, the magnificent hospitalities of the Rotches and Rodmans, my space compels me to omit. One word, however, of the picture presented by the venerable William Rotch, ninety-three years of age, standing between his son and his grandson, the elder gentlemen being in their Quaker dresses and the youngest in the fashionable costume of the day. ‘You will never see a more ideal representation of extreme age, middle life, and vigorous maturity than is given by these three handsome and intelligent men,’ said Governor Lincoln to me as we left the house.” “Up to this date, at least,” wrote Mr. Quincy late in life, “his prediction has been verified.”
The Rotches became landed proprietors. William Rotch acquired the Abraham Russell farm which extended from County Street west to what is now Rockdale Avenue. Mr. Arnold had lived in a house at the southwest corner of Water and Madison Streets, then Bush Street, opposite the plant of the New Bedford Gas & Edison Light Co. The old house was demolished a number of years ago. The time had come when Mr. Arnold could indulge his spacious ambitions to create a great estate. He bought from Mr. Rotch that part of the Russell farm north of Arnold Street. It fronted on County Street. The region was covered with great elms and flowering lindens. The west part of the estate included some swamp land and was wooded in part.
Mr. Arnold was a lover of trees and gardens and it was his plan to create a manor house after the English type. He had yearned for the opportunity this possession afforded him to cultivate the earth and adorn his property, to gratify what Lord Bacon has said is “the purest of human pleasures, the planting of a garden.” One writer puts it that as the first man was shut out from the Garden, in the cultivation of which no alloy was mixed with his happiness, the desire to return to it seems to be implanted by nature, more or less strongly, in every heart. Mr. Arnold was in a position where the creation of a great estate was a resource of agreeable nature and he held, likewise, the ambition to improve the taste and add loveliness to the neighborhood.
We may very well be interested in learning something of the career of James Arnold as a successful merchant of an early day who achieved in his time the title of “First Citizen.” In early life he gave direction to an intellect subtle and vigorous beyond the average, by studying intensively, classical literature, and the extent of his knowledge of the works of the greatest authors is said to have been unusual. He was a member of the Old Dialectic Society and a forcible speaker, while his comprehensive gifts of scholarship contributed to the interest of the debates. He was a careful and conservative merchant. He was not of the type of Joseph Grinnell, who started enterprises, or of Jonathan Bourne or Edward C. Jones, who were venturesome. But in his association with William Rotch Jr. he became a merchant prince of wide and unsullied reputation. He figured but little in public life, although he was somewhat active in town meetings and was for a time a member of the governor’s council in the administration of George N. Briggs. At the time of the schism in the Society of Friends, related in the diary of Joseph R. Anthony, printed in the Mercury awhile ago, Mr. Arnold left the Friends Society and joined the Unitarian Church. In his earlier business life it comes to us by tradition that he was a severe and exacting man in his dealings with those subordinate to him in his employ, and that by reason of his wealth and position and his distinctive and impassioned personality, he assumed a position which seemed autocratic. But life’s discipline altered him and we will see that he grew in the graces, his house becoming an institution of the city for the distribution of practical benevolence. He “put on righteousness,” “became a father to the poor—and the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him.”
This was due in large measure to the influence of the woman who was his wife, Sarah Rotch, a woman of rare personal and mental gifts. She assembled about her every variety of character and culture and the hospitality dispensed in the home which we are regarding was famed widely. Her personal appearance is described as impressive. William J. Potter dwelt upon it in a discourse to her memory. A certain power of character, he says, inhered in her very person and went out from it silently, commanding respect—her whole form was radiant, transparent with it. Mr. Potter emphasized it in a way that compels those who recall his restraint to realize her individuality was unusual. Behind the largeness of soul was an inward personality. This personality was underneath all natural gifts and social culture. It was strong personal culture spiritualized. “And so,” said Mr. Potter, “we bowed before her because we could not help it. No one, I venture to say, ever came before her who did not feel this power of her person. Her guests felt it and lingered beyond the appointed hour. Those who visited her for sympathy, for charity or on matters of business, felt it and went away ennobled by their homage. The children in the streets felt it, and wondered as she passed. Wanton crowds felt it and were hushed instinctively to silence if her presence chanced among them.” There was no apparent consciousness of precedence on her part, no jealousy on the part of others. The position was given her instinctively because you felt it to be hers and given without the shadow of envy.” This is what Mr. Potter said of her. Mr. Potter was not an easily susceptible man and it may be conceived she was an extraordinary woman.
Mr. Arnold built his mansion in the year 1821. The date seems to be fixed by Edward Denham, a New Bedford historian whose persistence in establishing an exact date will interest you. Dudley Davenport, a house-wright, was the contractor and he sub-contracted with Charles M. Pierce for the mason work. James Wheaton, a journeyman mason, told Mr. Denham’s father that while he was at work on the house, one afternoon, toward night, he “turned the arch” over the front entrance of the house. Immediately after the day’s work he drove over to Rehoboth and married Lydia Pearce, coming back to New Bedford that night. In order to get the date Mr. Denham wrote the town clerk of Rehoboth for the date of the marriage and found it to be May 20, 1821. Mr. Arnold built additions to the house from time to time thereafter.
“Poised and in Georgian amplitude of line
Grandly the house rose from its plot of grass.
As might some kindly, red-faced squire and fine
Stand at his gate and watch his tenants pass.”
One of my diversions for a number of years has been the quest for a picture of the house as it was in James Arnold’s day. Members of the Rotch family and others had sought for it. I have been through many collections of old photographic plates without success. It is to Mr. Denham that I owe a clue which led to the successful ending of the pursuit. Mr. Denham recalled that Mr. Arnold employed on his estate a man named Calvin Edson Bacon and that Mr. Bacon had a daughter who died several years ago. Miss Bacon, Mr. Denham said, had a painting of the house. It was painted by a house painter, and while not a work of art was correct in detail. A number of Miss Bacon’s relatives were interviewed, but they had no knowledge of the picture. At length, however, I found it, in the possession of a niece of Miss Bacon’s, Mrs. Franklyn C. Ross, of Cottage Street, who permitted me to have it photographed. Mrs. Ross proposes to make later disposition of the painting by giving it to the Wamsutta Club where it will be a treasured acquisition enshrined with the silver balls and bats, trophies of the early achievements of the Wamsutta Club.
The original mansion was of brick, two stories high. Mrs. Francis M. Stone, a daughter of the late William J. Rotch, who became owner of the estate at a later period, furnishes a few details from recollections of childhood visits. In the south wing was a room called “the cabinet,” surrounded with mahogany cases filled with shells, “a rather dark and awesome room,” as Mrs. Stone remembers. In a room on the north side was an office and large store closets. On a long table in the center of the room were heaped grapes from the hot houses, ready to be sent to friends or invalids who would appreciate them especially, and Mrs. Stone recalls the delicious scent of the fruit which always filled the room.
In the parlors were carved mantels, which, with many of the ornaments of the house, were brought from Europe in the late 50’s. The carpets were woven in England, with patterns designed to fit the rooms. Some of these carpets are still in use, indicating the quality. At the end of the dining room was a portrait of George Washington, which now hangs in the hall of the Union for Good Works.
There were finer mansions than that of Mr. Arnold’s. It was the gardens to which he devoted his chief attention and creative talent. The tract which Mr. Arnold developed ran from County Street on the east to Cottage Street on the west, from Arnold Street on the south to Union Street on the north, and embraced about eleven acres. The garden was surrounded by a wall of stone, eleven feet in height, with a gate or doorway opening on Arnold Street. Inside the wall were two graperies and a greenhouse. There was a parterre with flower beds in fancy pattern, with borders of box after the fashion of all the old-fashioned gardens hereabouts. A fruit garden extended along the west side of the present Orchard Street. Mr. Arnold held the theory that peach trees should be trained on trellises and the branches ran on the high wall and on the ground. One of the attractions of the garden was a grotto, removed but a few years ago, although the surroundings which gave it charm had long vanished. In the roof of the grotto, which was of plaster, Mrs. Arnold, with her own hands, created a mosaic of shells which gave it unique character. The floor was paved in stone and there were rustic chairs and tables. It was so concealed by foliage that it was not easy to locate and it was a diversion of the young visitors to discover it. The gardener’s cottage on Arnold Street was covered with climbing roses and entered from a doorway in the wall.
There was also a maze reproducing the design of the famous maze at Hampton Court in England.
There were majestic trees on the grounds. Near the entrance on County Street was a great oak.
“Jove’s own tree,
Full in the midst of his own strength he stands,
Stretching his brawny arms and leafy hands.”
This tree stood on a green bank, and there was a tradition that it was a mound beneath which were the bones of Indian dead. When the villagers walked County Road in summer, this mound was a resting place. The tree was so conspicuous that it became a rendezvous for the militia. The calls for May-training day ordered the troops to assemble at the big tree on the Arnold estate, and it was a background for the martial spectacle wherein General James D. Thompson and Colonel Henry H. Crapo on horseback were illustrious features.
This garden held national fame. It is mentioned in the works of A. J. Downing on landscape gardening and rural architecture, published in 1852, from which we quote the following reference:
“In the environs of New Bedford are many beautiful residences. Among these we desire particularly to notice the residence of James Arnold Esq. There is scarcely a small place in New England where the pleasure grounds are so full of variety, and in such perfect order and keeping, as at this charming spot, and its winding walks open bits of lawn, shrubs and plants grouped on turf, shady bowers, and rustic seats, all most agreeably combined, render this a very interesting and instructive suburban seat.”
New Bedford at this period was “a haunt of ancient Peace.” On the hillside streets and hilltop were the homes of the rich. County “road” came to have a national reputation for beauty.
“There were broad-bosomed trees that spaced the way.
Solemnly bowing to the sentient wind;
Flagstones were set in orderly array.
Over the earth, which still their borders lined
There was a cultured quiet, and an ease,
Sot as the shadowed pools in silent flow,
Flooding the roadway with each changing breeze.
Movement was made, but gently done—and slow.”
County Road was a historic road up which one September afternoon in 1775 four thousand British regulars, landed from a British fleet, marched on their way to burn the town. It was along this road equestrian parties in the old days, farmers with three-cornered hats, breeches and all that, men in the dress of the Society of Friends, carrying behind their saddles leathern bags containing luggage, and pleasure riders, as well, journeyed. William W. Crapo expresses the wish that the name County “road” had been maintained. We may, however, be grateful that this fustian generation designated it as County “street” and did not prank the designation with the high-sounding title of “avenue” or “boulevard.”
The mansions along this street have been said to have suggested “aloofness,” as well as tradition. It was rather strange that at a period when caste was somewhat observed, Mr. Arnold decided to throw open his gardens to public enjoyment. The opportunities for recreation were restricted. There were no motors or trolley cars, or public parks, or country clubs, or playgrounds, or motion picture houses to beguile. Relatively few people kept a horse and there were few places to go. The opportunity to visit “Arnold’s Garden” was appreciated and on Sunday afternoons all the town might be found enjoying Mr. Arnold’s hospitality. William W. Crapo, to whom descended the title once held by Mr. Arnold of “First Citizen,” tells us his father used to take him to the garden on Sunday afternoons and he remembers hearing Mr. Arnold expand upon his theory of running peach trees on trellises. Whenever outsiders came to the town there were three diversions which were the standard program of entertaining the stranger within our gates. The visitors were taken to drive around the “Point road,” around the Head of the River—Acushnet Avenue being lined with fine estates—and they were taken to “Arnold’s Garden.” Many were not in a position to take their guests to drive, but no one missed a visit to “Arnold’s Garden.” Maypole dances were held by the villagers on the lawn. They are now to be seen in the opening choruses of comic operas. But this was the period when the little girl bade her mother “wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear, for I’m to be Queen of the May, mother, I’m to be Queen of the May.” One year Alice Warwick Slocum was crowned Queen of the May at one of the festivals on the Arnold estate. Later she renounced the throne and became a preacher in the Society of Friends.
The Arnolds entertained many distinguished visitors. John Quincy Adams was a guest in 1835 and again in 1843. In the diaries of the Adamses we find evidence that the beauty of New Bedford at this time was not a provincial notion. The Adamses were impressed with what Mr. Adams described as the “fine palace houses.” “We took tea, spent the evening and supped with Mr. Arnold, who had a large party of gentlemen to meet us,” wrote Mr. Adams. “We saw Mr. Arnold’s fine garden and two greenhouses.” Charles Francis Adams, who accompanied his father, wrote in his diary: “New Bedford is an offshoot from Nantucket, and more thriving than the original stem. Both equally depend upon the whaling business, which is now carried on to an extent far too great for permanent success. The fortunes suddenly made at this place have poured themselves out upon the surface, in the shape of houses and grounds. We were taken to see the street, which has lately risen like magic, and which presents more noble looking mansions than any other in the country. Mr. Arnold took us over his garden, which has been laid out with much taste. The presence of a female of taste is perceptible in it. Having gone through it, we were ushered into the house, and found Mrs. Arnold, her daughter, and his sister, to whom we were introduced. Mrs. Arnold too is a lady as there are not many. A considerable number of gentlemen came in during the evening, but circumstances made it wearisome to me. After a beautiful fruit collation I hurried home before the rest of the party.” The Adamses were never quite satisfied anywhere, so the circumstances which made the evening wearisome to the younger Mr. Adams is characteristic. Later on, Mr. Adams wrote: “After breakfast we were visited by numbers of people. Mr. William Rotch among others—an old Quaker gentleman of 76, but fine looking, and very solid. He is the father of Mrs. Arnold, and all the present family. His grandfather moved from Nantucket in 1769 and founded the fortunes of the town. I like this. There is something respectable in it.” Of the second visit John Quincy Adams wrote: “And our third visit was to Mr. and Mrs. Arnold, in the same house where we met an evening party in September, 1835. The year after which they went to Europe, and travelled three years. Their house was then graceful and comfortable, and furnished with elegance, and at great cost. It is now embellished with many articles of exquisite luxury from Italy, so that it is like a second princely palace. Mr. Arnold was not at home, but Mrs. Arnold received and treated us with a profusion of flowers and of fruits-grapes, pears and peaches.”
The Arnold mansion was the center of the social gaiety of the town. The most famous event which occurred in the Arnold mansion was a costume party given in 1856. James B. Congdon wrote a poem for the occasion, acting as “Chorus” to introduce the celebrities. This manuscript is now in my possession. A loose leaf sets forth that the party “was socially and locally considered the event of the century, several of the characters being representative of persons intimately connected with our country’s history.” The opening verses by Mr. Congdon have the rhythm, if not the quality o£ old Omar, of whom our poet had never heard. Having in mind the stately mansion and its traditions we can picture the splendor of the aristocratic assembly in the great salon and Mr. Congdon chanting his opening chorus:
I roved delighted, all around were seen
Nature’s rich treasures, culled with choicest care,
All graceful forms, all brilliant hues were there,
And golden fruit relieved with brightest green,
Mingling harmonious; ’twas a lovely scene,
A picture bright with dream-like beauty rare,
When the full heart unquestioning claims its share.
And Taste its homage pays at Beauty’s sheen.
The forms of grace, the fruitage and the flower
Sent forth a gentle unalloyed delight,
Owning the presence of that plastic power
Which moulds rude nature into visions bright:
Of tastes refined and generous hearts the dower;
Speaking of lofty aims and wealth bestowed aright.
The calm and quiet midnight hour is near,
And solemn thoughts attendant train appear,
Awed and subdued the chastened spirit knows
A deep contentment, a profound repose.
Now falling sweetly on the willing ear,
Music’s rich strain from yonder hall I hear,
Gilding the current of my sterner thought
With brighter hues by teeming Fancy wrought.
The first living picture was that of “Quaker, Soldier, Priest,” which was assumed by Edward Livingston Baker. “He had provided a monk’s cowl and cord, as well as a red coat and chapeau,” writes Mr. Congdon, “and exhibited himself to me in both. I felt warranted in writing the three characters in the person of my highly respected friend.” “Pink versus Drab” was represented by Miss Mary Tallman, Mr. Congdon writes. “Miss Tallman’s costume I have found wonderfully suggestive. Her dress was divided longitudinally into two parts, one the ‘pink’ of the fashion, the other the demure drab of the Quakeress. This two-sided plan was carried out even to the coiffure.”
In verses touching upon saint and sinner, Mr. Congdon recalled a reverend group, “that noble pair the honored sire and son. Whose lives were bright with daily duty done,” and to other personages. In his notes Mr. Congdon explains the identity of those he had in mind. “William Rotch, William Rotch Jr., Elisha Thornton and James Davis,” he writes, “occupied the high seat in the old Friends’ meeting house at one time. They were objects of deep veneration, more than any other I ever looked upon. Elisha Thornton and James Davis were preachers and the ablest that ever belonged to this meeting. I was never weary, although very young, when these good men were speaking. The term, ‘chant-like,’ will be perfectly understood in its application to the preaching of Friend Thornton by all who ever heard him.”
After urging the young woman in the pink and the drab to reflect upon folly and religion, Mr. Congdon inaugurates the pageant:
Farewell, dear lady, I have kept thee long,
Listening impatient to an idle song.
Now through the brilliant groups pursue thy way
Grave with the Wise with Mirth and Folly gay.
And Miss Tallman departs from the stage to be followed by Mrs. Joseph Ricketson as “The Pilgrim.” Then came Miss Kate Howland as the Child of the Regiment. Mr. Congdon was a quiet Quaker and presumably unacquainted with stage characters. The note under the title in Mr. Congdon’s writing is quaint.
“The Child of the Regiment,” Mr. Congdon writes naively, “is, I believe, an operatic character, a favorite one of Jenny Lind.” Mrs. Leander A. Plummer was Undine, which Mr. Congdon explains is a Jewish term meaning water sprite. Miss Clifford, the daughter of Governor Clifford, was the Vivandiere, Mr. Congdon elucidates again. “The term ‘Vivandiere’,” he writes, “is used to designate an attendant upon a French army. It frequently occurs in the account of the French army in the Crimea.” Charles S. Randall, who was later a congressman from this district, impersonated “The Gentleman of the Revolution.” In his notes upon this character, made in 1856, Mr. Congdon wrote: “I trust that it is not to the field of conflict and blood that the true-hearted are now summoned. But in some form the battle of freedom is yet to be fought. Slavery is marshalling its forces. Let not the sons of freedom be found recreant.” On Feb. 22, 1869, Mr. Congdon added this entry: “The lines above, written in March, 1856, now read like a prophecy.”
Mr. Congdon adds a few pages of notes in which he states that “there were those present who, in the past, had in costume, conduct and conversation, held closely to the manners and customs of Fox and his followers.” It can be imagined that Mr. Congdon conceived he devised a daring diversion with the dualistic costume of pink and drab in which one of the belles of the town was garbed—his vivandiere and his characters from the opera and the stage. Mr. Congdon had no conception of the audacity of the costume of show girls in the “Follies” and “Frolles.”
Mr. Congdon could not let the society of New Bedford indulge in its gay mood without calling to its mind solemn reflection and he closed his pageant poetry with these lines:
The vision closes. Ceased is music’s strain,
And dark-robed silence now resumes her reign.
Passed is the glittering pageant of an hour,
And solemn thought returns with added power.
Thus fade the glories of the earth away,
Thus Title, Beauty, Pomp and Power delay!
And naught remains to crown the spirit’s guest
But Peace and Thought and God’s Eternal Rest!
Mr. Congdon’s poem introduces many characters and is very long. We will ask leave to print. Mrs. Jireh Swift, the wife of the president of the Wamsutta Club, possesses the list of guests at the ball prepared by her aunt, Mrs. S. W. Hawes, with an original poem by Mrs. Hawes written after the party was over. We will also ask leave to print the list of guests. The poem by Mrs. Hawes follows:
SONG OF THE “HAPPENING-IN”
Heard ye of the mighty gathering
All the tribes and all the nations
At the house of James of Bedford.
In the halls of stately Sarah
Of the race of the Rotch-Rodmans.
Should you ask me whence these people
Why all nations has assembled
I should answer, I should tell you.
I, from regions of the North-Men
Went there in my hat and blanket
With my mate and with my papoose
Meeting there some dusky brethren
One the chief of Isles of Fiji,
With his squaw, the sweet Wal-Walla,
From the lands beyond the sunset,
And they said to me, “Oh sister,
Show us these amazing people
Round this very brilliant dwelling.
We will follow thee, Potomska.”
Hand In hand with wild Wal-Walla.
With the Fiji chief for gallant
Strode we round these halls of gladness.
Bright above us gleamed the gas light
Sweet around us bloomed the flowers
And we listened to the music
Saw ourselves in wondrous mirrors.
When we spied the sculptured marble
Much we marveled—and we whispered
“Very cunning are the white folks.”
Soon we felt an icy coldness.
Round me close I wrapped my blanket.
Closer drew the chief his plumage
Turning we beheld old Winter
With his faggots and his hatchet.
But we fled from his embraces,
And the distant scent of roses
Told us Summer was approaching.
In the distance saw we Ceres,
Crowned with corn and wheat and grasses.
Then the dark and starry Midnight,
Followed by the Star of Morning.
I said to the Star of Morning,
“I have seen you in the North-land,
And she answered, “Yes. Potomska.”
Near her stood a long-haired Greek girl
With a dress most rare and curious
And a smile most kind and friendly,
And he said to her, “Oh, tell us
Who’s that gay and ancient lady
With her gray hairs decked with jewels,
With those hoops and flowers and flounces.”
Thus we asked her, and she answered,
“She’s a dame of ancient grandeur
From the court of gallant Louis.
And she is not gray, she’s powdered.”
Much we marveled—but a figure
Now transfixed us all with wonder
And the Greek girl slyly whispered,
“That’s my aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood.”
And I cried, “Immortal Betsy!
Where on earth, in sea or forest,
Where in Paris or in London
Found you that outrageous bonnet!
For what rare and costly Ba-zaar
Sought that belt and bag, and sunshade?”
But she never deigned an answer.
Now a gawky youth called Solomon
Just that moment did espy her,
And exclaimed, “I’ve got some doughnuts
And I’ll give the very perfect
To that old gal with the bonnet.
That ‘All fired’ and stylish bonnet.”
But she never spoke or answered.
And we taunting said unto her,
“Where your greensward is the freshest
We will drive our Indian Donkeys
Round and round your ancient dwelling.”
Still she did not speak or answer.
Only glared through her Spec-ta-cles.
Only poked us with her sunshade,
And we said, “She is an old maid.”
Her old head she wagged and left us.
Then Red Riding Hood came breathless
Said the wolf was just behind her;
She should never reach her grandma.
With her bottle and her basket,
If we Indians did not shield her
From the wild wolf of the Forest.
Onward still we passed in wonder,
Trod on trains of ancient ladies.
Saw the grand and mystic High Priest,
By his side the stately Norma.
Met Friend Russell in his white tops.
Comely maidens decked with flowers.
Handsome men in velvet jackets,
Gorgeous Lady from Damascus.
Saw we Katharine of England,
Of all earthly Queens the greatest.
Rat-tat-tat—why here’s a drummer.
With her beaver and her buckskins.
When our dusky chief of Fiji
Goes back to his native islands
He intends to steal that drummer.
Said Wal-Walla, “There’s a Quaker.”
But our friend, the long-haired maiden,
Said it was a most gay lady.
Then we slowly crept behind her
And astonished, we acknowledged
She was both and she was neither.
See you not that sandaled maiden
With her loose robes and her jewels,
From the lands beyond the Ganges,
From the farthest Ind. or Orient,
Came she here to meet the nations.
See how sweetly shines the fairy
She’s a pigmy—a Puk-wud-jee.
While beside her, fair and placid,
Stands the beautiful Cinderella
With her wonderful glass slippers,
And the Marseillaise, the Tri-Color.
Then the Greek girl slowly led us—
Led us to the halls of feasting,
Seated us on silken couches,
Fed us with cool cream delicious,
Gave us oysters from the pearl beds.
Gave us celery from the gardens,
Mixed with meat of birds, and spices,
All the spoons were made of silver,
And the goblets all of crystal.
Foaming high above the goblets,
Drank we of this wine-like nectar,
Cold, delicious, bright Fire-Water,
And this made us very happy.
Then we gathered for the war-dance
With the ancient Chief Wamsutta.
Meeting there the savage Malays
With their coarse and uncouth garments.
Not a syllable they uttered,
But they joined us in the dancing.
Never were the maids so comely,
Never matrons were so stately.
Very warlike were the soldiers,
And the music of the sweetest,
And the sparkling, bright Fire-Water
Made us very, very happy.
Then we stood before our hostess,
With her pale, majestic features.
In her robes of purple velvet
Trimmed with fur of the chinchilla.
And her daughter stood beside her,
Clad in softest ‘broidered muslin,
With her diamonds and plumage,
And we said, “Oh! Blessed ladies
May it make you ever happy
That your feast was so successful,
That your guests are so contented.
As for us untutored Indians,
Never till we sleep our last sleep
Will the memory of this meeting
Of the tribes and of the nations
Pass away from Nature’s children.
When the leaves of Autumn rustle
With the West Wind, Mud-je-kee-wis
And we gather round our firesides,
In our dark and dusky wigwams.
Then the young and old will listen,
Listen to the wondrous story
Of our hospitable greeting
In the house of James of Arnold.”
Then I wrapped my blanket round me,
With my mate and with my papoose
Went my way to old Potomska.
Since the newspapers of the period gave little or no attention to society news it is remarkable that we have such a record of the social activities of which this old mansion was a center. There were many other occasions when this house was the scene of social splendor.
“Often on nights when scented, lovely Spring
Playfully set the curtains’ folds astir.
Passers-by heard the clinking glasses ring.
Gallants all standing in a toast to “Her.”
Those were the days of silks and law and lace.
Winning and courtliness; of ease and grace.”
Mrs. Robert Snow recalls the story of entertainments told her by her mother. It was at the period when women wore hoops and Mrs. Snow remembers hearing of lacqueys stationed at the entrance to hold back the hoops and assist the women guests to negotiate the doorway.
We will now turn from this side of the life of the mansion to a time when it became the center from which bounty was distributed for the alleviation of human need and suffering. A stream of benevolence flowed from this princely abode. “The exercise of the charities of which that was the foundation, was one of the institutions of our city,” Mr. Congdon has written. In the beginning, Mr. Arnold was assisted in this work by his wife and daughter. This daughter married Dr. Tuttle. Romance touched the old house here. The Arnolds went to the White Mountains one summer and a member of the family fell ill. Dr. Tuttle, a country doctor, was called in and Miss Arnold became infatuated with him. There was opposition in the Arnold family, but eventually the Arnolds gave consent to the marriage of their daughter to Dr. Tuttle.
Mrs. Arnold filled in works of philanthropy the same position she held as leader in the sphere of society and hospitality. Her means were large but her heart and sympathy were larger. Yet large as was her heart it is recorded that her benevolence was not a mere impulse, but a conscientious principle and she systematized and organized her task. She worked through various instituted charities, the Port Society, the Mariners and Orphans Home and other relief societies in this city and abroad, but her greatest enthusiasm was for individual rather than instituted benevolence. She visited the homes of the unfortunate to see tor herself their circumstances and needs and she freely opened her house to those seeking help, making her room a missionary office for the poor. “The house was known to all the vagrant train. She chid their wanderings but relieved their pain.” In her last days, when suffering bodily pain and too weak to sit unsupported, she daily received men and women in distress, examined their cases and gave each such counsel or aid as she felt they needed. During the last ten years of her life she devoted exclusively to objects of benevolence the entire annual income of a large fortune which she held in her own right—and with all her giving went inestimable wealth of sympathy and a gracious spirit of benediction.
Mr. Arnold was of different type. Mr. Potter, in the sermon to his memory, to which we have alluded, discussed Mr. Arnold with the fairness for which he was distinguished. Mr. Potter declined to picture Mr. Arnold as a faultless man, although he measured up to the highest ideal of virtue and citizenship. Mr. Potter mentions the tradition that in early life he was a severe and exacting man with but little of that natural milk of human kindness in his heart from which the cream of charity which later refreshed the whole community might be expected to spring. But if he seemed harsh, unreasonable and, arbitrary in his demands upon others, “let all this be so, let it be that a persistent critical acumen might detect in his large practical benevolence a want of some delicate touch of humane, heartfelt sympathy with the objects of it.” Mr. Potter still felt this but served to strengthen the merit of the real point—”that the last years of his life were better than the first; not better in respect to intellect, but better in respect to the virtues and graces of character. Here was growth, advancement, constant progress under life’s discipline to something higher and nobler.”
This change was due, no doubt, to the grace of the woman who stood more than fifty years by his side, complementing his strength and molding his character to the larger proportions in which it grew. Though having but a moiety of the wealth of Astor or Peabody, Mr. Arnold became widely known as a public benefactor. He did not permit the publication of his benefactions and the extent was known to but few. He adhered to Quaker principles and did not believe in war and during the Civil War he would not give a dollar to equip men for fighting. Yet he was unwearied in relieving the suffering consequent upon the war, and a healing stream of his bounty flowed to the southern battlefields, into camp and hospital. He befriended the colored race and turned none away from his door. At the age of eighty years he took up the work of home charity which had dropped from his wife’s hands at her death, carrying it on as a sacred legacy from her love. Mr. Arnold himself said he was not charitable because he loved in his heart to give, but because he believed in his conscience he ought to give. But there is evidence that sympathy was not lacking. When the calls for help became too pressing and he felt he could not make the requisite examination into worthiness, he would direct that applicants be sent to Rev. Mr. Thomas, who served him as almoner for several years. But it is recorded that, sitting in his library he would hear a woman’s voice at the door, telling a tale of suffering and the servant would repeat Mr. Arnold’s instructions. And as the door was shut he would call his servant. “Who is that at the door?” “A poor woman who says she has nothing to eat and not enough clothing to keep herself warm and I sent her to Mr. Thomas.” “Well,” Mr. Arnold would say, “I don’t know as Mr. Thomas has anything for her. I think I had better see her and hear her story. Perhaps she has children cold and hungry at home.” So Mr. Arnold would break his rule and the woman would be called back and given help. Such acts convinced Mr. Potter that the giving was not all “conscience” and that the tenderness of pity grew up in the old man’s heart.
James Arnold died in 1868 and went to another mansion where place had been prepared for him. He was 87 years old. “With all his apparent outward ease and prosperity,” wrote Mr. Potter, “few persons have had to meet more heart-rending disappointments and afflictions. Passers-by have doubtless often gazed at that sumptuous dwelling and its beautiful grounds with envious longings for the fancied happiness of its occupants. Ah, little did they know of the deadly pain at the heart of all that beauty, of the tragic agonies those walls enclosed, of the struggles of strong, proud natures—there to bear submissively the inevitable. And the struggle was successful. This is the glory of that home beyond all its external elegance. These characters came up out of the conflict stronger, braver, purer. They went down into the fiery depths of baptism clothed with worldly gayeties and ambitions. They came up in white robes of charity and heavenly mindedness.” Mr. Arnold outlived his near kindred and buried from this house his wife, daughter and sister, lingering as the last leaf. And with his death ended a household, a family, and a home which we associate with culture, hospitality and charity in its highest development.
“Gone all the grace, the loveliness and calm,
Gentlemen kindly, ladies brave and rare,
Who with the fine devotion of a psalm,
Gave themselves once to gracious living there.
Grave teams of blacks and carriages a-gleam
Roll no more softly down a shaded way,
Lumbering trucks with growl and angry scream
Warn the protesting boys to cease their play.
Yet there are nights when quiet comes at last,
When in the moonlight shifting shadows show
Out of the dim, lost glories of the past
Some of the peace that street once used to know.”
In his will Mr. Arnold made provision that the beneficence dispensed from his house to the poor should go on for all time here below. He left a bequest of $100,000 the interest to be used for the deserving poor. The Union for Good Works has the dispensation of about three-quarters of this fund. There were many other bequests for charities and incidentally the one that led to the creation of the Arnold Arboretum.
The latter fact suggests an incident that shows how one of Mr. Arnold’s interests affected the career of another. In later life, William W. Crapo has told me, Mr. Arnold, in his leisure hours about the town, would call upon his business friends and tipping back in a chair with his feet upon a desk would spend an hour in conversation. Mr. Arnold was a very loquacious man, with good talents in conversation, sometimes incisive and brilliant, though it is said of him he was apt to become verbose and involved. At this period a man named Driggs came to New Bedford. He was a lumber prospector and had acquired options on timber lands in Michigan. The tracts were choice, selected with particular care, and were represented as holding exceptional value. Driggs wished to secure a loan of $50,000 to start operations and came to Mr. Arnold. Mr. Arnold was not interested at first but became so later and told Driggs finally that if Henry H. Crapo, the father of William W. Crapo, who was an engineer and surveyor, among other things, would consent to go out to Michigan, and make favorable report, he would make the loan. Henry H. Crapo could not go conveniently and suggested that his son William, then a young lawyer, might go out and investigate the titles and situation. Mr. Arnold finally agreed to this and William W. Crapo went to the forest lands of Michigan. It was not so difficult to run down the titles for it was but a few years before the United States government owned all the land until the pioneers established claims. So young Mr. Crapo went to Michigan, reported favorably and the loan was made.
I asked a man who had known Mr. Arnold what he supposed influenced Mr. Arnold to make the loan. “Ten per cent, interest, I guess,” was the reply. That was not the answer I was looking for. I hoped he would say it was Mr. Arnold’s interest in trees, and in view of the lifelong regard for the subject and the Arnold Arboretum I choose to hold that opinion. I might complete the story of the incident by relating that Driggs could not finance the undertaking after all. He came back and offered to sell the property to Mr. Arnold for $150,000. Mr. Arnold said he would buy it if Henry H. Crapo would go out and manage the business. Mr. Crapo went and an outcome was the election of Henry H. Crapo as governor of Michigan. “And how did the investment turn out?” I asked Mr. Crapo. “The company cut lumber to the value of $450,000,” was Mr. Crapo’s reply. So Mr. Arnold had more than one reason for his regard for trees.
One often hears it said that Mr. Arnold wished to establish the Arboretum in New Bedford, but the town would not accept it. This is not a fact. Mr. Arnold once offered the town the west part of his estate, for a park. It included Arnold’s Grove, a popular picnic ground. Someone has said that Mr. Arnold did not conceive of a New Bedford west of Cottage Street and so was willing to let the land go. The fact is, rather, that Mr. Arnold did conceive what New Bedford would become and the boon a park in this section would confer. The town did not feel it could afford to maintain a park and declined the offer which is another sad thought connected with those saddest words, “It might have been.”
The story of the Arnold Arboretum, the most famous tree museum in the world, is this: Among Mr. Arnold’s bequests was a share which Mr. Arnold provided should be devoted to the promotion of agriculture or horticulture or other philosophical or philanthropic purposes at the discretion of the trustees. This share materialized at about $100,000. One of the trustees of Mr. Arnold’s estate was George B. Emerson, a nephew, author of works on trees and shrubs. Realizing the benefit the public might derive from the establishment of a collection of trees, managed scientifically, he proposed to turn over Mr. Arnold’s legacy to the President and Fellows of Harvard College to be used to develop and maintain an arboretum, provided they would devote to this purpose a part of the farm in West Roxbury which had been given the university by Benjamin Bussey. The plan was carried out in 1872 and 120 acres were set aside for the new Arboretum In which the university undertook to grow a specimen of every tree and shrub that could endure in this climate. Since then botanical expeditions have been sent to many countries to enrich the Arboretum, and through it the gardens of this country and Europe. Under a contract with the university and the city of Boston the city has added territory and built drives and polices the grounds. The university controls the collection and the Arboretum is open to the public.
James Arnold provided in his will that his house and grounds should go to his nephew, William J. Rotch. William J. Rotch was the second mayor of New Bedford.
A son, Morgan Rotch, who was at one time president of the Wamsutta Club, was also mayor of the city. William J. Rotch graduated from Harvard in 1838 with the honors of his class—a member of the Phi Beta Kappa. He was one of the founders of the Cordage Company and one of the promoters of the McKay sewing machine. In 1852 at the age of thirty-three, he was elected mayor of the city. He served in the legislature, was one of the staff of Governor Clifford, and held a position on the directorates of banks and cotton mills.
William J. Rotch made the Arnold home his dwelling place and for fifty years or thereabouts it has been known to New Bedford people as “The Rotch Estate.” Mr. Rotch altered the Arnold mansion at an unfortunate period when architectural fashion was at its worst. He added the mansard roof and rebuilt the house in accordance with the vogue of that day. The grounds were curtailed of their proportions, but the wide frontage, with the great trees that shade the lawns, were grateful to those who have watched the passing of one great estate after another as dwellings are pressing closer together and the shops are crowding the choice residential sections of an older day. During the lifetime of Mr. Rotch the house once more figured prominently in the social life of the city. Upon the death of Mr. Retch’s widow, several years ago, the lights of the mansion went out once more, and it was feared the place would share the fate of other great estates which once distinguished the city. The family was interested to preserve the landmark and made favorable concessions which made possible the acquisition of the house and a part of the extensive grounds by the Wamsutta Club, which is altering the mansion radically for clubhouse purposes.
We are glad the substance of this famous mansion is to be preserved. It is a splendid possession to have and to hold. We must be impressed with the story of the dwelling place and the people who occupied it. We “know thy works and charity and service and faith and thy patience and thy works, and the last to be more than the first.” Its acquisition by the Wamsutta Club will keep bright the light of departed days. The members may find tongues in the trees that linger here, sermons in the stones, and inspiration in everything. A trace of the fragrance of the old gardens lingers, of the flowers that once adorned the vase, now sadly shattered. Once again the doors are to be opened. The old portal is to be preserved, we understand, and new generations will pass under the arch which James Wheaton turned on his wedding day, through which streamed the beauty and fashion of the town on the night of the great costume party, through which passed men famous in statesmanship and history, and not the least of these, my brethren, the unfortunate who were never turned from this door. The hope of the contemporary writer who recorded the death of James Arnold is to be fulfilled—the lights of the beautiful home are to be rekindled, and enlightened and beneficent influences will, we are sure, flow still from that spot so long consecrated to an active widespread and enlightened hospitality.
THE COSTUME PARTY.
MARCH 20, 1856.
(Poem Written for the Occasion by James B. Congdon.)
I roved delighted, all around were seen
Nature’s rich treasures, culled with choicest care.
All graceful forms, all brilliant hues were there,
And golden fruit relieved with brightest green,
Mingling harmonious; ’twas a lovely scene.
A picture bright with dream-like beauty rare,
When the full heart unquestioning claims its share.
And Taste its homage pays at Beauty’s sheen.
The forms of grace, the fruitage and the flower
Sent forth a gentle unalloyed delight,
Owning the presence of that plastic power
Which moulds rude nature into visions bright;
Of tastes refined and general hearts the dower;
Speaking of lofty aims and wealth bestowed aright.
The calm and quiet midnight hour is near.
And solemn thoughts, attendant train, appear:
Awed and subdued the chastened spirit knows
A deep contentment, a profound repose.
Now, falling sweetly on the willing ear.
Music’s rich strain from yonder hall I hear;
Gilding the current of my sterner thought.
With brighter hues by teeming Fancy wrought.
Why sport attractive in a false array?
A Warrior or a Statesman of a day:
Why, by a costume vulgar homage claim,
As Wits or Beauties from the rolls of fame?
And shall the hollow pageants of an hour
O’er mind and head exert such magic power?
While He, the Greatest, will His children call,
Both “Kings and Priests” unto the Lord of All.
QUAKER, SOLDIER, PRIEST.
(Mr. Edward Livingston Baker)
When round the Savior’s Tomb the conflict raged,
And Turk and Christian bloody battle waged,
Behold the foremost on the well-fought field,
The Warrior-Priest, with helmet, sword and shield.
Our modern eyes a stranger sight behold,
Than history’s pages to the view unfold:
In gay saloons with mirth and music bright,
A Quaker-Warrior-Priest attracts the sight.
When Power, triumphant, humble merit scorns,
The Warrior’s plume the titled brow adorns:
And the high places of the Church are filled,
By blood through years of lofty place distilled.
Behold the contrast! In this “Happy Land,”
No longer crushed beneath a despot’s hand.
A simple Baker, to the wondering view,
Stands forth, a Marshal and a Bishop, too.
When sturdy Fox, a “King and Priest” to God,
With proud disdain on king and priesterall trod;
When Penn, to pomp and place and power allied,
Clung to the Cross, and crown and cowl defied.
No gloomy vision of the coming day,
Took from their earnest work their hearts away:
Shewing their sons, by garb theatric’s power,
As mimic kings and priests in Beauty’s bower.
Note—My friend, Edward Livingston Baker, did not, I believe, appear at the gathering both as a Warrior and Priest.
But as be had provided a Monk’s cowl and cord, as well as a red coat and chapeau bras, and exhibited himself to me in both, I felt warranted in uniting the three characters in the person of
my highly respected friend.
THE PAST. THE PRESENT.
Meekly he sat, while quietly around
Penn’s self-denying followers are found—
He rose, and solemnly his friends addressed,
Of present conflict and of future rest.
Sweet falls the music on the enraptured ear.
Bright to his vision does the scene appear—
While jeweled beauty meets his ravished glance,
With rich-robed manhood mingling in the dance.
Note—When these lines were written, I had in view more than one person present, who had in early life appeared as speakers in the religious gatherings of Friends. My impression is that both I. A. and I. G. were at one time speakers in meeting.
PINK VERSUS DRAB.
(Miss Mary Tallman.)
Quick as a thought the glancing eye can veer,
“From grave to gay, from lively to severe.”
Here fashion reigned, with form and color gay.
There meekness, self-denying, holds its sway.
This dress fantastic, to the thoughtful view,
Of many a spirit is an emblem true:
Now ruled by Wisdom, now with Folly gay,
Conflicting passions hold alternate sway.
Lady, thy dualistic dress appears,
A transcript faithful of the by-gone years;
With sobered thought and feeling here I see,
The Past and Present symbolized in thee.
Clear on my memory dawns that early day,
When simple men and manners held the sway;
Now o’er this brilliant festive scene I range,
Behold the present and deplore the change.
Not with a cynic’s eye would I survey
This festive scene so brilliant and so gay;
Nor deem, as gazing on these costumes quaint
Pink marks the sinner and the drab the saint.
For many a heart throbs loyally and true
In bosoms draped by fashion’s varied hue;
While wolf-like meanness and the fox’s wile,
Display a garb on which a Fox might smile.
But still this Friendly dress has charms for me,
For in the light of other days I see,
By Memory pictured, in that plain array,
The men and matrons of an earlier day.
In manners simple, but in thought refined,
Firm in their faith, but not as bigots blind;
While large success their active labors crowned,
As large a bounty spread its blessings round.
Clear on my sight a reverend group appears,
Through the long vista of departed years–
That noble pair, the honored Sire and Son,
Whose lives were bright with daily duty done.
The Psalmist’s music and the Prophet’s fire,
In Thornton’s chant-like eloquence conspire;
Davis, proclaiming with the zeal of Paul,
The Great Salvation offered free to all.
The vision faded, again around I see
This gorgeous scene of mimic pageantry;
Wondering as on the view the eye is cast,
How near allied the present and the past.
Farewell, dear Lady, I have kept thee long,
Listening impatient to an idle song;
Now through the brilliant groups pursue thy way,
Grave, with the Wise, with Mirth and Folly, gay.
Note–Miss Tallman’s dualistic costume I have found wonderfully suggestive. The dress was divided longitudinally into two parts, one the pink of fashion, the other the demure drab of the Quakeress. This two-sided plan was carried out even to the coiffure.
William Rotch, William Rotch Jr., Elisha Thornton and James Davis occupied the high-seat in the old Friends Meeting-house at one time. These four men were objects of deep veneration, more than any others I ever looked upon. Elisha Thornton and James Davis were preachers, and the ablest ever belonging to this meeting. I was never weary, although very young, when these good men were speaking. The term “chant-like” will be perfectly understood in its application to the preaching of Friend Thornton by all who ever heard him.
(Mrs. Joseph Ricketson.)
Say, beauteous Pilgrim, at what sacred shrine
Are due thy vows and reverence divine?
On thy rich dress of pilgrim shape and hue
No trace appears of fading sun and due.
There is no dust upon thy sandaled feet;
There is no moisture on thy forehead sweet;
In those bright eyes no gloomy trace appears,
Of heart-felt grief or penitential tears.
“Nay, flattering questioner, not with toil and pain,
Seek I with weary feet some hallowed fane,
[?] to implore a threatened ill to shun,
Or expiation for the wrong I’ve done.
“Although a pilgrim’s weeds my form invest,
No pilgrim’s sorrows agitate my breast:
Nay, stay me not! Behold with rapid glance,
The ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ through the mazy dance.”
THE CHILD OF THE REGIMENT.
(Miss Kate Howland.)
The Child of the Regiment is, I believe, an operatic character, a favorite one of Jenny Lind.
THE CHILD OF THE REGIMENT.
Vision of Beauty! Vainly should I trace
War’s demon image in that angel face:
Why in war’s wrappings does that form appear?
Why sound those notes discordant in the ear?
Woman! Thy work is purity and peace:
Thy holiest mission to bid War to cease:
And if the tented field thy footsteps,
Go forth a nightingale, to heal and bless.
THE INDIAN MAIDEN.
(Mrs. S. W. Hawes.)
There is no terror on thy swarthy face,
Thou dark-haired daughter of a ruined race:
Thy step is joyous and thine eye is bright.
And thy whole being bounds with wild delight.
Daughter of Philip! Has the Past no power,
To calm the fevered fancy of the hour?
Hast thou no cause to blast the Redman’s foe?
No sigh of anguish for thy people’s woe?
Nay, tempt me not, thou lovely Vivandiere.
The contents of thy Circean cup to share,
A double danger, here, alarmed. I see,
To taste thy nectar and to worship thee.
The battle over and its shock withstood.
Safe from the field of conflict and of blood.
The warrior finds, while pleasure rules the hour,
A greater peril still in Beauty’s bower.
Note—The term Vivandiere is used to designate an attendant upon a French army. It has the meaning of Sutler, I believe, in English. It frequently occurs in the accounts of the French army in the Crimea.
(Mrs. L. A. Plummer.)
Think not, fair lady, in that spirit guise,
The secret of thy envied triumph lies:
Think not the witchery of Elfin art,
Secures the homage of the manly heart.
Be thou to woman’s holy duties true.
Woman’s high aims in woman’s strength pursue:
Then reign a queen o’er home’s beloved array,
With no Bertalda to dispute thy sway.
Note—The beautiful story of Undine may be found in “Putnam’s Library of Choice Reading,” translated from the German of the Baron De La Motte Fouquo, by the Rev. Thomas Tracy. The term Undine (Water Spirit) is from the Jewish.
No charms for me, thou dashing Cavalier.
In jeweled breast or doublet gay appears;
Not for vain-glorious triumphs here presume,
On brilliant sword-knot and a nodding plume.
Come as a Hamden, with his soul of fire!
Come as a Milton, with his deathless lyre!
Come as a Cromwell, king without a crown!
Each patriot heart will bless, nor tear thou Beauty’s frown.
Note—It was some time after these stanzas were written before it occurred to me that I had introduced into the second, the same three historical personages found in one of the verses of Gray’s celebrated Elegy–
“Some village Hamden that with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of the field withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country’s blood.”
I mention this circumstance simply that I may not be suspected of a miserable attempt at an imitation of that inimitable ode.
I believe, however, that my humble verse is more just to Cromwell than that of the poet. The celebrated trio belong together. Cromwell was no more “guilty” than Hamden.
THE GENTLEMEN OF THE REVOLUTION.
(Charles S. Randall.)
Thy manly dress reveals the awful hour,
When Freedom trembled at the step of Power.
Aroused, the thrilling tale we hear it tell.
How Hancock triumphed and how Warren fell.
Hark! ‘Tis the trumpet’s spirit-stirring strain.
Calls Freedom’s champions to the field again.
“Life, Fortune, Honor” to thy country give,
And in thy Country’s heart, honored forever, live.
Note—I trust that it is not to the field of conflict and blood that the truehearted are now summoned. But in some form the battle of Freedom is yet to be fought. Slavery is marshalling its forces, let not the sons of Freedom be found recreant to duty.
Note—1869. Feby 22. The lines above, written in March, 1856, now read like a prophecy.
CATHARINE OF ARRAGON.
(Mrs. J. H. Clifford.)
Lady renowned illustrious Arragon!
Child of Spain’s noblest, nobly hast thou won,
A wider homage, more imperial sway
Than perjured Henry in his proudest day.
Majestic Martyr! To thy name belong
The mingled wreaths of eloquence and song;
They bloom perennial on thine honored head,
And through all time immortal fragrance shed.
Note—Hume and Shakespeare are one when they write of the injured daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella.
(Miss Hannah Perry.)
Lovely Immortal! From Olympus’ height,
Why are thou here, a visitant tonight?
Art thou commissioned by th’ Olympian queen,
Proud Juno’s proxy to our festive scene?
“Mortal! My footsteps never press the earth,
To join in scenes of revelry and mirth:
No joy or gladness round my steps appear,
Demeter wandering from her heavenly sphere.
“The earth is fruitful and her children blessed,
When on the Sacred Mount I calmly rest.
And heedful of a toiling world below,
Plenty and Peace and Happiness bestow.
“Daughter of Time! In grace so near divine,
Wouldst thou with woman’s high glory shine,
While earth to bless, thy earnest thought is given.
Seek Strength and Hope and sweet Repose in Heaven.”
Note—the daughter of Ceres was stolen, and the goddess left Olympus and came to earth in pursuit of her. While thus upon the Earth and absent from her heavenly home, she refused to allow the earth to bring forth any vegetation. Her child being restored, she returned to her home in heaven, and the Earth was again fruitful.
(Mrs. Thomas R. Rodman.)
Irminsul was the name of the Druidical temple of which Norma was the Priestess. Had the writer of this ever seen Jenny Lind or Grisi in the character which has made Bellini’s opera so celebrated, and had an opportunity presented for his seeing Mrs. Rodman when personating Norma, the Priestess, he might have produced some lines worthier of the theme.
The blazing pile illumes the frowning sky;
Irminsul’s Priestess in its flames must die—
A Fane dishonored and a broken vow,
Demand a bloody expiation now.
Image of Norma! [?] thy mien and face,
A woman’s fond and faithful heart we trace:
Be thou to Jesus’s holy teachings true,
And live a woman and a priestess too.
(Miss Martha R. Congdon.)
Lady beloved, an honored name you bear,
And all its rich associations share:
With Clinton’s name, our Country’s annals yield
A high renown in council and in field.
In the Great Conflict, when the hearts of all
Beat stern and true at Freedom’s frenzied call,
Woman stood forth in peril’s darkest night,
To cheer and bless—firm Champion of the Right.
Note—Three of this name are men of mark in our history. James Clinton was a soldier and a statesman. He was an officer in the French War and in the War of the Revolution. George Clinton was a general in the Revolutionary army, Governor of the State of New York and Vice President of the United States. De Witt Clinton was mayor of New York City, Senator in Congress, and Governor of the State of New York. The great canal owes its existence to him. Mrs. Arnold’s visitor attempted to personate the lady of George Clinton as she appeared at the ball on the occasion of the inauguration of Washington as President.
The vision closes, ceased is music’s strain,
And dark-robed silence now resumes her reign:
Passed is the glittering pageant of an hour,
And solemn thought returns with added power.
Thus fade the glories of the earth away!
Thus Title Beauty, Pomp and Power decay!
And naught remains to crown the Spirit’s quest
But Peace and Thought, and God’s Eternal Rest!
THE GUESTS AT THE COSTUME PARTY IN 1856
Allen, Mrs. Prentiss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aspasia
Allen, Mrs. Edward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hungarian Peasant
Allen, Mr. Edward. . . . . . . . . . Colonel of Danish Chasseurs
Anthony, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lady of 30 Years Ago
Anthony, Rowland. . . . . . . . . . . . Pope of Louis XIV Times
Abbe, Dr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ezra Stiles, Pres. of Yale
Abbe, Mrs. . . . . . .Mrs. Clinton, Lady of the Republican Court
Baker, W. G. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Character from Otho I.
Baker, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Autumn
Barker, Mrs. G. F. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rebecca, the Jewess
Barker, Miss Lizzie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Highland Lassie
Baker, E. L. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Major Whiskerando
Bartlett, Mrs. D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wal-Walla
Bartlett, D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charles II, Merry Monarch
Bennett, Mrs. Thomas. . . . . . . . . . . . Lady of Olden Times
Bennett, Thomas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . U. S. Consul
Brigham, Mr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oreveso, a Druid
Clifford, John H. (Gov.). Commander in Chief of Law Forces in MA
Clifford, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katharine of Aragon
Clifford, Miss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vivandiere
Cabot, Mr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Costume of 1740
Cadwell, Mr. W. P. S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winter
Cadwell, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summer
Clepham, Miss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice Lee
Congdon, Miss Martha. . . . . . . A Lady of the Republican Court
Chandler, Mr. Charles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Col. Chandler
Coflin, Mr. Wm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sir Tristram Coflin
Coflin, Mrs. Wm. . . . . . . . . . Marietza, German Peasant Girl
Delano, Mrs. J. E. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . English Quakeress
Eliot, Mrs. T. D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Madame E., 1778
Eliot, Miss Carrie (Mrs. T. M. Stetson). . . . . . . .Greek Girl
Fennoe, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Persian Lady
Gordon, Lizzie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Domino
Gordon, Annie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Domino
Grinnell, Mrs. Lawrence. . . . . . . . . . . Circassian Princess
Grinnell, Mr. Lawrence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Friend Russell
Grinnell, Mr. J. G. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fijee Chief
Grinnell, Mrs. J. G. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Di Vernon
Haskell, Mrs. Edward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flower Girl
Hathaway, Horatio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Solomon Swop
Hawes, Mrs. Sam W. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Potomska
Hawes, Mr. Sam W. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Colonel Culpepper
Hawes, Miss Rebecca. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Greek Girl
Hawes, Mrs. John A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Highland Mary
Hawes, Mr. John A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Mantalini
Hallet, Miss Anna (Mrs. J. C. Tripp). . . . . . .Red Riding Hood
Howland, Sarah F. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Circassian Lady
Howland, Lucretia (Mrs. Ballou). . . . . . . . . . . Flower Girl
Howland, Kate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .La Fille du Regiment
Hunt, Mrs. John. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Simple Self”
Hopkins, Mr. John. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Caucassian Chief
Hathaway, Mrs. Wm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth Fry
Jones, Mr. E. C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Due D’Orleans
Luce, Miss Hepsa (Mrs. R. C. Nichols). . . . . . . Highland Girl
Nicholls, Mr. R. C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sergeant of Cadets
Nichols, Miss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Neapolitan Peasant
Macy, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .White Lady of Avenal
Macy, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Woman of 17th Century
Mitchell, Mrs. Walter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Widow Bedotte
Morgan, Miss Clara (Mrs. W. J. Rotch, 2nd wife). . . . Huntress
Matthes, Dr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .German Medical Prof.
Matthes, Mrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cavitella Tyrolese
Otis, Miss Isabel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cinderella
Otis, Miss Helen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Morning Star
Perry, Mrs. Eben. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fairy and Malay
Perry, Eben. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mousquetaire
Perry, Miss Hannah (Mrs. R. T. Paine). . . . . . . . . . . Ceres
Peabody, Miss Ellen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Greek Girl
Peabody, Annie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lucy, Spanish Girl
Plummer, Mrs. L. A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Undine
Plummer, Mr. L. A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brifaud
Plummer, Miss E. R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Goody Two Shoes
Prescott, Judge (Oliver). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Black Friar
Randall, Mrs. Charles S. . . . . . . . . . . . .Isis—The Rainbow
Randall, Mr. C. S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Costume of 1776
Ricketson, Mrs. Joseph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Pilgrim
Ricketson, Mr. Joseph. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Clan McPherson
Ricketson, Daniel. . . . . . . . . . . . Sir Robert Throckmorton
Ricketson, Miss Anna. . . . . . . . . . . The Lovely Mary Louisa
Rooth, Miss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Spanish Lady
Ricketson, Arthur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tom Cringle
Rodman, Edmund. . . . . . . . . . . . Mons. Artyman Mousquetaire
Rodman, Miss Ellen (Mrs. Horatio Hathaway). . . . . . . . Aurora
Rodman, William Logan. . . . . . . . . . . . .Duke of Buckingham
Rodman, Thomas R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mousquetaire
Rodman, Mrs. Thomas R. . . . . . . . . . . . . Norma and a Malay
Rotch, Mrs. W. J. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Swiss Peasant
Rotch, Mr. W. J. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Gascon Knight
Russell, W. T. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Capt. Howard
Russell, (Betty). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Mantalini
Russell, Mrs. Thomas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Betsy Trotwood
Russell, Miss Elizabeth (Lizzie) (Mrs. Gilbert Thornton) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marseillaise
Russell, Miss Martha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spanish Girl
Russell, Miss Mary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Pilgrim
Shepherd, Miss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Senorita Teresa Munez
Stone, Mr. J. C. . . . . . . . . . . . . A French Courtier, 1760
Stetson, Mr. T. M. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lord Clive
Swain, Miss Susan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Night
Swain, Miss Mary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mlle. Mollynski
Swift, Mr. W. C. N. . . . . . . . . . . . French Gentleman, 1775
Swift, Mrs. W. C. N. . . . . . . . . . Lady in Time of Louis XIV
Taber, Mrs. W. G. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Swiss Broom Girl
Taber, Mr. W. G. . . . . . . . . . . . .Commander of Ripple Club
Taber, Robert. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ripple Club
Tallman, Mary. . . . . . . . . . . . .1/2 Quaker, 1/2 Worldling
Toulon, Sapphira. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bohemian Girl
Wall, Miss Anna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Italian Peasant
Wall, Miss Mary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spanish Girl
White, Thomas B. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gentleman George
By Frank Wood
Curator of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
“Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and New Bedford, and Sag Harbor, you will come across lively sketches of whales and whaling scenes graven by the fishermen themselves on sperm whale-teeth, or ladies’ busks wrought out of the right whale bone, and other like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the rough material in their hours of ocean leisure. Some of them have little boxes of dentistical-looking implements, especially intended for the skrimshandering business. But in general they toil with their jackknives alone; and with that almost omnipotent tool of the sailor, they will turn you out anything you please in the way of a mariner’s fancy.”
In the quotation from Moby Dick which I have just read, Melville employs the word skrimshander, but scrimshaw is the more usual form. The definition of the word is sometimes restricted to engraving, into which pigments are rubbed, but the word is properly applied to carving as well.
James Templeton Brown, in his history of Whaling, tells us that the word scrimshaw is of doubtful orthography, being variously written, and that it has, like many of the idioms that form the very pith and essence of the Whaleman’s language, gained currency at the leading whaling centers, though seldom heard away from a seaport town. Mr. Brown claimed to have traced its antecedents to Nantucket and that it is of Indian origin, but this he has not been able to substantiate. Other authorities assert that the surname Scrimshaw, if not actually the source, may have influenced the form of the word.
Scrimshaw was the art, and art it truly became, of the making by sailors of innumerable articles from the teeth of sperm whales, bone, and wood. It was one of the most fruitful sources of amusement to our whalemen, and it did much to fight off the dull monotony of the long cruise.
In 1795 the ship Beaver, Captain Paul Worth of Nantucket, was the first American whaler to go into the Pacific. She was followed in the same year by the ship Rebecca of New Bedford. At about this date, when whaleships first began to make long voyages of three and four years duration, scrimshawing probably came into existence.
At this time the very best of our young men went whaling, and among them were many who possessed not only skill, ingenuity, and artistic taste, but they were craftsmen as well. Undoubtedly some were engravers and cabinet makers. For workmanship, for intricacy and beauty of design and finish, what can surpass some of the jagging wheels, ditty boxes, and busks? The etching on many is wonderfully well done and where colored pigments are used the effect is unusual and charming.
Many of the subjects signify that sentiment and romance were highly developed with the American whalemen.
The variety of things of this sort made on shipboard is marvelous. There are writing desks, toilet boxes and work boxes of foreign wood, inlaid with hundreds of pieces of other woods of various shapes and shades; cribbage boards and checker boards inlaid with rare wood or mother of pearl, work tables for wives and sweethearts when the vessel returned to her home port, decorated teeth and walrus tusks, canes made from the pan bone with a carved head from the tooth of a sperm whale or a walrus tusk, folding and expanding reels or swifts for winding yarn, elegantly made of strips of bone and decorated with bits of gay colored ribbon, whips from the long, elastic and gracefully tapered slabs of baleen, which is the bone from the mouth of the Right whale; rulers, penholders, paper cutters, butter knives, jagging wheels, chopping knives, finger rings, knitting needles, sleeve buttons, bodkins, watch stands, small blocks and pulleys, splicing fids, seam rubbers, and children’s toys.
Interesting in this connection and a commentary on the manifold activities carried on in the confined space of a whaleship, which becomes during a long voyage a “right-little, tight-little” world of its own, where men thrown upon their own resources become self-reliant, ingenious, and shipshape in their work, is the account of the ship’s carpenter taken from Melville’s Moby Dick. The captain of the ship Pequod, Ahab by name, early in his career lost one of his legs and had a leg made of jawbone to take its place. In getting into a boat one day he splintered his bone leg and straightway called the carpenter to him. When that functionary appeared before him, he bade him without delay set “about” making a new leg, and directed the mates to see him supplied with all the studs and joists of jaw-ivory (sperm whale) which had thus far been accumulated on the voyage, in order that a careful selection of the stoutest, clearest-grained stuff might be secured. This done, the carpenter received orders to have the leg completed that night. The leg was completed.
“The one grand stage where he (the carpenter) enacted all his various parts so manifold, was his vise bench; a long, rude, ponderous table furnished with several vises, of different sizes and both of iron and of wood. At all times except when whales were alongside, this bench was securely lashed athwartships against the rear of the tryworks.”
After the operation of cutting in had been concluded and the signs of it cleared away, the jaw was brought out and the teeth extracted with a small tackle. Pieces were sawed off from the jaw bone and placed at the disposal of any of the crew who wanted them for scrimshaw.
In the natural state the whale’s tooth is not smooth, as is usual in the specimens seen ashore. It is ribbed. The sailor files it smooth, and the ashes from under the trypot are usually employed in polishing. I think it not at all unlikely that the sailors were influenced in their work by the work of the natives of the islands of the South Seas. With the same marvelous patience, with like inadequate tools and with the same skilful adaptation of materials at hand, they have made a highly original and interesting contribution to the world of art.