Letters of Life/XI

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LETTER XI.


DOMESTIC LIFE.


Hymen is wont to strew with roses the entrance into his domain. This is well; for where the most onerous duties of this life are assumed, all the aids derived from agreeable excitement and cheering anticipation should be enlisted.

The introduction to a new abode was signalized by many kind, social attentions in the form of calls, entertainments, and parties. Such marked regard from the aristocracy, as well as other classes, might have humbled me with the feeling that I had no just claim to it, had I not considered it as a demonstration of respect to my husband. He, though a devoted and successful merchant, often found time, toward the close of day, to take little excursions, always choosing to drive himself, through the beautifully varied scenery which the suburbs of the city presented. A promise had been made, at taking me from my parents, that, whenever it was possible, he would bring me to visit them every month. This pleasant journey of forty miles was performed in the same style, with a single horse, taking one of the children in rotation, to share in our happiness.

Our household, besides our three lovely children, comprised a maiden sister of the first Mrs. Sigourney, a lady of most amiable manners, and of the same age with my husband, two clerks, who, being from good families, were generally included in our own circle, two men employed about the grounds, store, or stables, and three female servants. Finding the arrangements of a family that had been in existence, sixteen years systematically established, I was careful not to disturb or interfere with its routine unnecessarily. Still it was my desire to bear a part in its operations, and to prove that the years devoted to different pursuits had created neither indifference nor disqualification for domestic duty. In this new sphere I could scarcely hope to equal my predecessor—who was a model of elegance—but was assiduous that our hospitalities, especially the dinner parties, which were occasionally large, should show no diminution of liberality and order.

Habitual industry did not forsake me, but was ready to enter untried departments. Perceiving my husband to be pleased with efforts of the needle and knitting-needles, mine were seldom idle. Not content with stockings of all sizes, I constructed gloves of various sorts, adjusting their fingers to the tiniest hands, and surprised at my own success. A still bolder emprise kindled my ambition—the cutting and making a pair of pantaloons for our son. Ripping a cast-off garment of that sort, and sedulously measuring and adjusting every part by the pattern, I produced an article of mazarine blue bombazine, which, trimmed with white pearl buttons, was well-fitted and becoming. It was sufficient for me that the father was pleased, and praised it. For I was often saying in my heart, I hope he may sustain no loss, at least in financial matters, from having married a schoolmistress and a literary woman.

It was particularly pleasant to me to keep up in some measure the habitudes of teaching with our very bright and attractive children. I simplified for them portions of geography, history, and Scripture, illustrated by stories, and by degrees formed sets of written questions, by whose aid they might review and rivet their little gatherings in memory. Highly gratified were they when father chanced to be an auditor. They were joined in these exercises by the youngest clerk, who requested it as a favor, having been well instructed at the primary schools of a neighboring State. This addition to their class served to encourage them, and was to him a source of satisfaction. Possessing a thirst for knowledge, and a fair, distinct chirography, he advanced to the construction of historical and chronological charts, which were in all respects creditable, and worthy of preservation.

The custom which prevailed among merchants in the olden time, of drawing within their circle of home-charities those whom they received as pupils in their profession, was both kind and wise. The benevolence of sheltering from temptation the young who are thus severed from parental supervision, and whose hearts often pine for the tones of lost affection, is often recompensed by a more perfect identification of interests, and sometimes by a lifelong friendship.

The year after our marriage we removed to a habitation which Mr. Sigourney had erected after his own plan, in a commanding and beautiful situation. It combined convenience with elegance in a remarkable degree. Facing the east, its stately columns caught the first rays of the rising sun, as they unveiled, like a picture, the city stretching at its feet. The interior, with its lofty ceilings, marble mantel-pieces, folding-doors, and windows reaching to the floor, had a patrician aspect, more noticeable half a century since than now, when such appendages are common. It was environed by an extensive lawn, whose curving gravel-walks were adorned with shrubbery; and spacious gardens, one of which stretched downward to the fair river that girdled the domain, from which it was protected by a mural parapet. One of the most unique features of the scenery was a grove sloping rather precipitously to the borders of the same graceful stream, traversed by winding paths, and shaded by lofty trees never disturbed by the axe, save to prune their luxuriance. On its margin, and partially sustained by the trunk of a strong oak that bent over the water, a rustic recess with two or three seats, called the Hermitage, had been constructed. It was approached by a kind of wilderness path through the lower grounds, and, so far from vindicating the propriety of its name, was said to be the spot where many of the courtships of the city were negotiated, under the auspices of Luna. An adjoining eminence was crowned by a summer house, on whose vane, which was in the form of an arm and hand, with a pointing finger, was the classic inscription, "Ut ventus vita"—our life is as the wind. Garden-seats were placed in different positions, so as admirably to reveal the charms of nature and art which were here combined—the velvet lawn, the turrets of the neighboring college, the stream that at one point exhibited a slight cascade, and at another seemed to have a lake-like termination, neither of which gave the slightest indication of the torrent-fury of which it was once in a year capable, when, swollen and disturbed by the attrition of the dissolving spring-ices, it rushed onward like a maniac. The trees which were scattered here and there seemed instinct with the spirit of grace; and methought I had never beheld such enchanting moonlights as fell through their chequering branches.

The iron horse has since tramped over those premises, annihilated the grove, with its love-consecrated cloister, demolished the rich eastern garden, and with his fiery breath consumed a pair of ancient elms that guarded its entrance, full of vitality and glory. But I still keep the unchanged picture in my heart.

Our domain was beloved by the flowers. Roses of every hue and variety cast their perfume upon the air; the clematis threw over the piazzas its rich masses of cerulean blue; brilliant woodbines and trumpet honeysuckles spanned the arching gateways, or clung to the trellises of the summer-house; the alternate white and purple lilacs bowed their heads over the avenue allotted to them, as if in close consultation; the neighboring lilies bent back their listening petals, like the ears of the white rabbit; on the borders of the gravel walks the gorgeous coxcomb flaunted, the peony and lupine advanced their pretensions, the pansy lifted its deep eye of intelligence, and the arbor-Judea waved its pendulous banner when the slightest zephyr claimed homage.

Life in its varied forms, biped and quadrupedal, leaped and luxuriated among us. Birds, fearing no shaft of the fowler, peopled the boughs, and made a paradise of song. Among the lofty walnuts in the grove a race of exceedingly pretty gray squirrels might now and then be seen flitting from spray to spray, or gracefully grasping in their paws the nuts that they nibbled and amassed in their hoards. Snowy turkeys strutted amid the green turf, those of the masculine genus spreading their broad plumage with a peacock's vanity. Hens, of the same tint, protruded their heads from the gratings of their sharp roofed summer-houses, calling back their brooding little ones from among the compeers with whom they wandered upon the allotted area. Their similarity of color arose from the preference of my husband, who, in his drives among our suburban farmers, if he saw a fair, white member of the poultry tribe, purchased it; their eggs, being used in incubation, produced flocks of the same garniture, or if, by chance, a youngling of different hue made its appearance, its date was short. Among our other retainers was a favorite horse, of large proportions, who, from the contrasted color of his legs half way to the knees on an even line, was known by the sobriquet of "White Stockings." When led out to water, he might be seen lifting his feet high and carefully, lest he should tread upon some kittens, whose mother had chosen her abode in a corner of his manger, or inserting his long, honest face, through the open window of an adjacent pantry, to receive a slice of bread, perhaps, with a sprinkling of salt. Two fair cows, with coats brushed to a satin sleekness, ruminated at will, and filled large pails with creamy nectar.

A long line of buildings stretched in the rear of the mansion, unmarked by ornament, yet of pleasing architectural proportion, the classic taste of my husband being obvious in the slightest details, every part of this establishment, from the basement to the capitals of the columns, having been executed after a model drawn by himself. Having been so thoughtful of comfort as to wish the coolness of an abode in summer not invaded by the fumes and odors of culinary preparation, this additional erection contained a large, secondary kitchen, which having also every convenience for a laundry, was constantly used for that purpose. There was also a fine room for a dairy, and a chamber for the shelter of any wayfaring man who might wish to tarry for a night. The remainder of the building was divided between a receptacle for fuel, carriage-house, and accommodations for animals, with the stores of their requisite food.

It was accordant with the rural element in the character of us both, that a portion of the family subsistence should be drawn from our own cultivated soil. This we considered both congenial to health and that consciousness of independence which is one of the pleasantest parts of a life of agriculture. Fifteen acres were connected with the domicile, which Mr. Sigourney promised himself much pleasure in supervising. Like many of the gentlemen-farmers of England, he preferred that his principal gardener should be a Scotchman, the thrift and close observation of that people being happily shown in exciting the highest fruitfulness of the earth, without exhausting its powers.

Our gardens supplied a profusion of the richest vegetables, which gave variety and a healthful aliment to our repasts. Currants pruned into the form of small trees, showered their fruitage both white and red, raspberries luxuriated upon their espaliers, and a large expanse was allotted to the luscious strawberry. We had at a little distance a field where the tasselled maize grew lovingly with the potato, and a pasture where our cows took their clover meals, repaying us in a barter-traffic of cream and golden butter. Our poultry peopled their territory with a prolific zeal, and munificently gave us their eggs, their offspring, and themselves.

Our trees, of the peach, pear and apple, apricot and cherry genus, were so exuberant in their gifts, that neither by usufruct, or donation, could they be always expended. The resource was in casting them to a class of retainers whose name, for some reason or other, perhaps for none at all, is scarcely admissible to ears polite. Nevertheless, having very comfortable quarters, with a fortified area, where they might enjoy the air and sun, and being kept scrupulously neat, they were not disagreeable objects, especially when the before-named dessert was distributed. They exhibited unmingled delight in partaking of it, cracking the peach-stones to extract the aromatic kernels, and looking up at their benefactors with some degree of intelligence. We did not scorn the comfort of this subsidiary part of our establishment, who in return added condiments to our board, and their hams were thought to have derived flavor from the peaches that had nourished them. Soon after our removal to this delightful abode, my husband confided to me that, from some obstructions in the course of mercantile prosperity, added to the expenses of building, which are wont to exceed their original estimate, a system of retrenchment would be expedient, perhaps imperative. Concurring with his proposition, I sought how it might best be put in force without involving palpable inconsistency in the habitants of so costly a dwelling; and having seen some examples of a successful union of economy with hospitality, determined to become a learner and disciple. I steadfastly set myself against waste in every domestic department, and also to prolong the existence of all garments, by repair or transmigration. Wishing to take my part in privation, should any be deemed necessary, my wardrobe was for years supplied at a surprisingly small expenditure. I also undertook that the labors of our large household should be performed by a single adult female servant, aided by a young girl to be retained until the age of eighteen, whose remuneration was to consist of her clothing, board, and instruction. This arrangement I was enabled to persevere in for somewhat more than eight years, until the birth of little ones rendered the assistance of a nurse indispensable. To the description of help given by servants under eighteen, I became much attached, as calling forth some modification of the maternal principle, and giving scope for more of grateful regard than usually enters into the history of hirelings. One of mine, thus trained, became a respected teacher, and habitant of our fair, growing West; and another, who was a model of fidelity and piety, became the wife of an honored Mayor of our city.

For the household accounts, which were entrusted to me, an early training had given fitness and facility. Having acquired a fair handwriting, and some knowledge of arithmetical computation, at the age of eight my father accepted my assistance in keeping his books, a weakness of the eye, caused by the measles, making any continued use of the pen painful. As he held for some time the office of Town Surveyor, I was initiated into the mysteries of debt and credit, and gratified by being installed as a species of deputy book-keeper. He required a very clear chirography, and tolerated no blots or erasures; and the attention to accuracy thus inculcated in childhood, has been an advantage throughout life. By him I was also induced to commence, at eleven, in a manuscript book for that purpose, a statement of all my own expenditure, however small, a habit which I have continued without interruption to the present day.

I was happy that my husband should have the benefit of these financial proclivities, at a time when they were apposite and serviceable. Indeed, I have often wondered how so many of my own sex, especially housekeepers, should so often neglect, and even testify contempt for a regular account of their expenses. It not only seems necessary to prevent forgetfulness of where their money goes, but acts as guide in the science of its correct use. It is a sort of chart, by which a safe course may be steered, and the quicksand of debt avoided. My own countrywomen are vastly more negligent in this matter than the ladies of England, where I have observed even those of high rank keep their household-book near at hand, where it can be systematically consulted. I have also noticed in London, among the elegant gifts of a bridal trousseau, a beautifully bound blank book, for household expenses.

Dear friend, whose practice in such results is so exemplary, I am sure you will forgive this financial episode, for you believe with me that there is more pleasure in a just economy, even when not compelled by pecuniary need, than in the most lavish expenditure; the conscience of one who realizes a Christian stewardship, being better satisfied.

Among the pleasures of our mode of life I was permitted to put in practice what had been my ambition for years, ever since a short visit to the Hon. Governor John Jay, that venerable patriot, scholar, and saint. His daughter, Miss Ann Jay, a most refined and lovely person, who had charge of his establishment, gave employment to the poor women of that vicinity and the neighboring villages, in spinning and weaving, providing the materials, and paying them for their labor. The fabrics thus produced were sometimes retained, but generally disposed of at very low prices to those who made them, being of such a substantial nature as to be useful in their households. Thus she encouraged their industry, and also gained such an acquaintance with the structure of their families, as enabled her to send acceptable gifts to the sick and aged, or useful books to the young. To prevent a too frequent invasion of time, she appointed one day in each month for the transaction of this business, when groups of earnest, hard-working women might be seen, wending their way on side-saddle and pillion, bringing the fruits of their diligence, and flattered to be received at the great house as coadjutors and friends. Thus, this estimable lady, who, like her father, was the personification of benevolence, illustrated, in her own ingenious way, the principle that the best mode of helping the working-classes is to sustain their self-respect by prompting them to help themselves.

My plan of operations was of course on a more limited scale, but kept its original steadily in view. It was ripened into action by information from my husband that an establishment for the sale of dry goods in which he was concerned, had been unfortunately managed, and that the articles belonging to him which remained unsold would be brought to the house, and I might have liberty to dispose of them in payment for the work of spinning-women, if such personages could be found. Most grateful was I to him for this permission, and delighted to see a small apartment in the attic overflowing with calicos, plaids, and a multitude of other articles adapted to home consumption.

Forthwith I opened negotiations with the flax merchants, and busied myself in searching the suburbs for those who were skilled to transmute the raw material into yarn, thread, etc., receiving remuneration in what ever they might select from my store, at marvellously reduced prices. Here was a commercial intercourse, and a barter-trade opened, without any manner of doubt. The traffic proved a source of mutual satisfaction.

It was principally among the old-fashioned people whom I dealt, the younger not having been initiated into the policies of spindle and distaff. At length, discovering a female weaver, I had my purchased yarn transmuted into various forms of what the Scotch call napery, of a serviceable and durable quality. A correlative species of industry, which I had not anticipated, sprang up from this pleasant traffic. My own maidens, who were moved with a desire of imitating, or surpassing what was exhibited by their suburban friends, betook themselves, at their intervals of leisure, to the same employment, and the music of the large spinning-wheel was extant among us. This was interesting both to Mr. Sigourney and myself, as conforming still more to those habits of rural life which we respected. We procured wool for them, which, after being manipulated by carding machines into four long rolls, they manufactured into nice flannel sheets, some of which are in existence at the present day.

Amid our interesting domestic avocations, the claims of society were not forgotten. Pleasant parties of friends were not unfrequently invited, for whom it was our rule to make our ice-cream, and other varieties of refreshment, within our own premises.

It was our desire in these entertainments to avoid display, and unite simplicity with social and intellectual pleasures. We did not wish to make the animal appetites the chief attraction to those whose company we solicited, but taking it for granted, in the words of the Apostle to those of Corinth, that they had "houses of their own, to eat and drink in," would not tempt them to unseasonable indulgence, perhaps at the expense of physical welfare.

The pleasantest months of the year gave us the enjoyment of a more protracted hospitality. Our rural residence was delightful in summer to our city friends, and my husband's relatives from Boston, and the visitants of our daughters, often made the family circle large and cheerful.

Yes, and in process of time guests appeared, not for a season only—two little ones, who, having first opened their eyes amid that delightful scenery, claimed it as a home. My first infant, who came to us just before leaving our former habitation, fainted at the gate of life, and was laid by the pale angel on a turf pillow. It was a daughter of fair countenance and unusually large size, for whose crushed life my own was placed in imminent peril, and my health, for months afterwards, seriously suffered. Then followed the premature birth of two sons, and I gradually resigned the hope of ever becoming the mother of a living babe.

But somewhat more than eight years after our marriage, one of the smallest representatives of the human race was laid in my bosom by the All Bountiful. Scarcely four pounds in weight was this miniature of humanity; and to see it breathing, moving, stretching its tiny hands, unclosing its bright, blue eyes, was a sleepless source of wonder—a new demonstration of creative power and infinite goodness. Like a vision was the little Mary, and a blessing has she since been to all who have known her. I could not believe she was mine. I could not feel that I had a right to her, though she so freely drew her subsistence from me. Her loving babyhood was as a dream of enchantment to the heart which had so long schooled itself to resign anticipations of this nature.

Scarcely two years after her advent, a brother, of larger proportions, and vigorous frame, gladdened her nursery. Swiftly fled the months in their sweet companionship, and early and proudly was she seen guiding his footsteps as they traversed the velvet lawn. His father honored him with the name of Andrew, which was borne by the Huguenot ancestor who first emigrated to this land for "freedom to worship God."

The cares of maternity, added to those of housekeeping, had interfered with the regular routine of visits to my parents. This was a source of anxiety, as the health of my mother had become delicate, and her elastic spirits gradually subsided into sadness after my ultimate departure. They had been induced occasionally to pass a winter with us, and at the close of one of those visits Mr. Sigourney proposed that they should dispose of their property in Norwich and dwell constantly with us, as the trouble and expense of a separate establishment might thus be spared, while the presence of their baby grandchildren offered a new motive in favor of the arrangement.

His arguments prevailed, and my father, journeying alone to his deserted abode, promptly effected a successful sale of his real estate, movables, etc., and returned at the age of eighty with the vigor of a young man, bringing with him a copious selection of articles, which I prized as memorials of former days. Most grateful was I for this kind permission to dedicate a portion of time and attention to those who had for years suffered from their deprivation. I doubt whether the full responsibility of an only child is often correctly estimated. Their indebtedness for a concentrated and exclusive love of a lifetime, cannot be computed in the arithmetic of language. If a daughter, her forsaking father and mother when the wheels of life begin to drive heavily, the blotting out of the one bright face, and young voice, the falling back upon hirelings when the worn heart yearns for loving looks and words, is a loss and a sorrow surpassing speech.

While the home-circle was enlarged on one side, it was temporarily diminished on the other. Our oldest son had become the student of a college in a distant State, under the presidency of Right Rev. Bishop Philander Chase, the particular friend, and formerly the pastor of his father. The eldest daughter, the most beautiful one of our family, was at the celebrated French boarding-school of Madame Chegaray, in New York, while the youngest remained with us, a daily attendant of the Hartford Female Seminary, then under the charge of the distinguished Miss Catharine E. Beecher.

As my husband, soon after taking up his residence in Hartford, had become a member of the Episcopal Church, I considered it my duty to adopt his form of worship. Though attached to that in which I had been educated, it was not long ere I accounted this change a privilege, so impressive was the solemnity of its liturgy, the hallowed beauty of its ordinances, and its systematic commemoration of events in the life and death of our divine Redeemer. Especially did the pathos of its burial-service thrill through my soul. It soothed me to think that the tearful request might probably be granted made to my mother, when, a young child, I first heard it at the grave of a companion: "Let that same be read over me when I am dead."

There was but one place of worship for the Episcopal Church in this city, at the time of our marriage in 1819, a plain structure of wood, with a small congregation. This was sold to the Catholics in 1827, removed, and eventually destroyed by fire. The original site is occupied by the present spacious and substantial specimen of Gothic architecture; besides which, there are five edifices of stone, counting the chapel of Trinity College, consecrated to the Episcopal form of worship.

When I commenced attending it, the Rev. Jonathan M. Wainwright was for a short time our rector, a young clergyman of high classical attainments, noble elocution, and dignified manners. He was afterwards widely known as Bishop of New York, and author of several beautiful volumes of tasteful literature and piety.

His successor was the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel S. Wheaton, respected for undeviating integrity, practical philanthropy, and universal knowledge. His earnest promptings stimulated to the erection of the present edifice of Christ Church, which had throughout its progress the aid of his architectural taste. With persevering industry he drew the original design, marked out the ground-plan, and superintended the details of the work from buttress to tower with somewhat of the attachment of the ancient Jews for their sacred temple. After ten years of faithful service, he resigned our pulpit for the presidency of Trinity College, and his place was supplied by the Rev. Dr. Hugh Smith, who came to us from the South. He was a man of genial temperament, and distinguished by the tenderness of his ministrations at the couch of sickness and death. I found both pleasure and edification from attending a weekly Bible-class instituted for the ladies of his congregation, where the Scriptures were happily illustrated by knowledge drawn from various commentaries, as well as by his own feeling and impressive enforcements.

Neither of these three sacred teachers are now denizens of earth. They have passed to that blessed reward for which they labored to prepare others. May their flock be permitted to meet them at the feet of the one Great Shepherd!

The Rev. George Burgess came to us in 1833, while yet a young man, recently returned from travelling in Europe, and a residence of some length in Germany. His character combined exalted and tender sympathies, profound learning, and poetical genius, all of which were humbly laid at the foot of the cross of Christ. For thirteen years we enjoyed his faithful instructions, and example of the meekness of wisdom. Then he consented to accept the Episcopate of Maine, where his self-denying labors have been unremitting and intense. The Muse but inadequately expresses the sorrow of his people at the separation:


I.

Pastor and friend, whose voice from year to year
With lore of heaven, the listening ear hath mov'd;
Whose pure example, brightening still, and clear,
Gave beauty to the path thy words approv'd:
Alike by youth, and reverend age belov'd,
In vain, alas!—thy fostering smile we seek;
To distant fields of sacred toil remov'd,
We miss thy guiding hand and o'er the cheek
Steal the heart's living pearls, as of thy loss we speak.


II.

For thou wert with us, when our souls were tried
By the sore ills that throng this pilgrim way;
And like a brother bow'd thee at our side
When pain and sickness mark'd us for their prey,
Or dearest hopes sank down in dark decay;
How rose thy tones, as if an angel pray'd,
When forth the spirit pass'd from failing clay;
Or with the mourner-train, in funeral shade,
Where sadly, dust to dust, the holy dead were laid!


III.

The sheep of other folds thy kindness knew,—
The wandering lambs that own'd no shepherd's care,
The erring outcast, shrinking from the view,
The poor, in cell all desolate and bare,
The homeless stranger, in his deep despair;
No cold pretension, oft from learning bred,
No pharisaic pride constrain'd thy prayer;

And ever didst thou strive with patient tread
To seek and save the lost, for whom thy Saviour bled.


IV.

Say, hadst thou known, all lowly as thou art,
Prone of thyself such slight account to make,
How strong the ties that from so many a heart
Twin'd round thy spirit for thy Master's sake—
Childhood's blanched lip, that trembled as it spake,
And white-haired age, that shunned the parting look,
While from dark hut, and courtly hall did break
Such sound of weeping that thy manhood shook,
Couldst thou have known it all, and yet our love forsook?


V.

Hence, selfish thought, and hide thee in the dust!
Shall our own separate good absorb our care?
And ne'er another's gain, or joyful trust,
Give ardor to our gratulating prayer?
Christ's family alike His favor share,
And ill should we within His blessed fold
Deserve a place, if haughtily we dare
To gloat exulting o'er our garner'd gold,
Nor heed a sister-flock, that roam the mountains cold.


VI.

Yet ah, forget us not! though far away
'Neath happier skies, thy hallow'd course be run,
Think of our vales, where sleeps the autumnal ray,
Our placid river, sparkling in the sun,
Haunts, where thy laurels from the muse were won,

Hearths, where fond memories of thy friendship twine.
Hearts, whose best hopes, beneath thy care begun,
Shall hoard thine image, even till life's decline,
Still let thy prayers be ours, our grateful blessings thine.


We have, since his departure, been favored for periods of different length, with the ministrations of the Rev. Dr. Peter S. Chauncey, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Clark, who left us to become the Bishop of Rhode Island, the Rev. Richard S. Abercrombie, and the Rev. Dr. George H. Clark, who is at present our esteemed rector. I hope I may not have failed to derive lasting benefit from the teaching of these spiritual guides.

During all these mutations, the Rev. Dr. Hawes, of the First Congregational Church in Hartford, continued to discharge his sacred duties with unimpaired physical and mental energies. He exhibits the rare example of constancy to one flock for almost half a century, and, in the words of Goldsmith, "ne'er hath changed, or wished to change his place." Having been a communicant there when in this city, until emerging from schoolmistress into matron, I have been in the habit of occasionally going to hear one of his earnest discourses, which are still delivered with the same strength and volume of voice, and emphasis of manner, that distinguished his early years. Respected by all for his long life of undeviating integrity and consistent piety, he may be seen traversing our streets with an alert step and healthful complexion, intent on errands of goodness, at past the age of threescore years and ten.

The Right Rev. Thomas Church Brownell, senior bishop of the United States, has presided over the Episcopal Church in Connecticut between forty and fifty years, and for almost the whole of that period been a resident of Hartford. Possessed of a clear intellect, and of the advantages of high education and foreign travel, his discourses and published writings ever maintained a distinguished character. He was the first president of Trinity College, and filled that post of honor with success, and a delightful blending of dignity with affability. This position he resigned, that he might more exclusively devote himself to the duties of his diocese. There, his success in increasing its numbers, and preserving that spirit of peace which has ever marked his own life and spirit, has been eminent. He has repressed the disposition to controversy, and studiously enforced that unity and love which the Gospel of Christ requires.

Now,[1] in his eighty-fifth year, the saintly beauty of his countenance, seated happily with the loved companion of his youth, and usually attended by some one of their affectionate children, is what no artist's pencil may hope to equal. Compelled by advancing infirmities to devolve the cares of his sacred office on the excellent Assistant Bishop, the Rev. Dr. John Williams, residing in Middletown, he exhibits an example of venerable and pious age which all love and revere.


Thrice blessed is the crown of days
Around his temples wove,—
Who ever in his hallow'd sphere,
Firm in the Gospel's faith and fear,
Hath kept our Master's spirit dear,
And ruled with peace and love.


Believing that Christian sympathies may be quickened by sometimes joining in the worship of other denominations, and that exclusiveness obviated which is prone to adhere even to the most conscientious, I occasionally listened with pleasure to the Rev. Dr. Bushnell, whose strikingly suggestive and original mind is portrayed in his published works; to the Rev. Mr. Beadle, who, both as a foreign missionary and pastor in his native land, has evinced the devoted and loving spirit of his Master; and to the Rev. Dr. Turnbull, of the First Baptist Church, whose warm Scottish heart gives life and energy to the religious labors, social intercourse, and literary efforts, which for nearly twenty years he has pursued among us.

I have been also pleasantly acquainted with several interesting and fervent preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and with the late Dr. Brady of the Romish Church, under whose auspices the noble building known as St. Patrick's Cathedral was erected, and who, with all his devotedness to his own immediate people, had the interests of the whole community steadfastly at heart.

The longer I live, the more inclined I am deeply to regret that those differences of doctrine and form which must always exist, should be permitted to disturb their Christian charity who embrace the precepts of the same Gospel, and pray to dwell at last lovingly in the presence of one Redeemer, in purer light, and perfect unity.



  1. The honored prelate entered into the blessed rest of the saints on the 13th of January, a. d. 1865.