Homer H. Stuart's given names were derived as follows: Homer Hine, the son of Noble Hine and Patience Hubbell, was born July 25, 1776, and died at Youngstown, Ohio, in 1856. He was a cousin of Aaron Stewart. Aaron Stewart in compliment to his cousin named his elder son Homer Hine Stewart. It will be observed that the surname is spelled two ways. The subject of this memoir after attaining his majority reverted to "Stuart" as written by the earlier generations of his family. In this form it appeared in the Will of his ancestor, John Stuart, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1682, and died in Londonderry, N.H. April 3rd, 1741.
Homer Hine Stuart was born April 1, 1810, in New Haven, Vt. He remarked that the only recollection he had of his father (Aaron Stewart) was sitting on the knee of a tall man and playing with the large buttons on his army coat. Once he recalled this incident to his mother and she responded that his father was then bidding her good-bye ere departing to the War of 1812, where he laid down his life. Referring to a letter, dated New Haven, Vt., we may locate the episode as having happened about March 11, 1813. In the latter part of this year, Aaron's widow, Mrs. Selinda Stewart, went to Fayston, Vt., and resided with her father, John Colt, who was born in Lyme, Connecticut, and who after the War of the Revolution removed to Vermont.
Homer's early childhood was passed in Fayston and the spot always remained distinct in his recollection. It was a township lying amid a tangle of domes and peaks, near Camel's Hump at the head waters of Mad River, which flows northward into the Winooski. It was a region of surpassing beauty. Bears and wolves lurked within the forest lying above the clearings made by its farmers. Except in winter these animals seldom gave trouble. He related that one cold moonlit night the household was aroused by squeals from the pigpen. Before his grandfather Colt could get out of doors with his musket, a bear was seen silhouetted against the snowy hillside dragging a luster porker. Another time Homer was sitting on a fallen tree picking raspberries and looked up to see a great black bear at the other end of the tree likewise picking raspberries! In the brook beside the house he amused himself making dams and placing upon the water wheels whittled out for him by his uncle, Charles Bulkeley Colt. Water from this brook was conducted to the kitchen where it flowed through a huge trough holding captive a lot of trout. It was customary to scoop a batch of these fish, when a guest happened along unexpectedly, and serve them fried with pieces of salt pork. Next day Homer would be sent out with pole and line and pail to capture another supply to place in the trough and this attractive task was readily performed; for trout in those days fairly longed to take a hook. In a log school-house he learned his letters and he remarked that "1818" was the first date he remembered writing on his slate. From descriptions which have come down from his mother, he was then a sturdy freckled brown-eyed boy with tow hair, "homely", as she phrased it. He grew, however, strikingly handsome. Indeed during his later years his appearance was the subject of remark wherever he went. He himself, however, he had a trace of vanity.
When the statue of the "Typical Puritan" was being designed in 1881, Augustus St. Gaudens, the sculptor, was desirous he should pose. Not knowing Mr. Stuart personally, he sought out Roswell Smith, the founder of the Century Magazine and asked his good offices in the matter of inducing Mr. Stuart to pose. Smith broached the proposition of St. Gaundns, Mr. Stuart, taken by surprise, colored like a child. It is to be regretted exceedingly that his modesty caused him to deny, not only this, but similar requests of many other artists, and we have merely a reproduction of a photograph which fails entirely in portraying the complexion, fresh as the blossom of a hawthorn, the kindly brown eyes and the beautiful silvery hair.
John Stewart decided in 1819 that his grandson Homer should have a liberal education and summoned him to Middlebury to attend school. Here he passed the next few years. In 1828 he entered Middlebury College, teaching schools at intervals near Ticonderoga and Lake George and Warren, Vt. He ranked high in his class and his graduation address in 1832 was very creditable. He studied law at Windsor, Vt., where a few years later his acquaintance with William M. Everts began. During a portion of his period he taught school at Springfield, Vt., for from the time of graduation at Middlebury College, he was dependent upon his own efforts. These early years were toilsome and marked by self-denial and bred in him the habits of thoroughness which characterized his after life. Finally he started for New York, via Troy. En route he saw a railroad for the first time and enjoyed the novelty of a ride in one of the stage coach bodies which had been mounted on car wheels and attached to the primitive "Low commotive Engine," as one of his New England contemporaries pronounced the word in the dawn of American Railroading. The line then extended from Albany to Schenectady and can be considered as one of the pioneer railroads.
He made his home for awhile at 57 John Street with David Hale, a friend of his Uncle Ira Stewart. Afterwards he roomed at 41 Liberty Street with Egbert Starr and Henry Warren, two men of his age, from Vermont.
His stay in New York lasted some time, and in his leisure hours he rambled about the city which was to claim so much of his life. He found the houses rather scattering north of Houston Street. Washington Square was a field surrounded by a picket fence. Beyond the "Parade Ground," as the Square was termed, came ordinary farming country. His evening hours were apt to be passed on the Battery, for he had a fine ear for music and loved to hear the melodies floating from "Castle Garden" out over the water. In those days the "Elysian Fields" at Hoboken, where he was wont to stroll deserved the name and were not, as now, merged in steamship yards. There was also the "Pavilion" on Staten Island where he used to sit and review the procession of vessels as they passed.
While in New York and opportunity to teach school in Richmond, Va., presented itself and he accepted. The journey southward carried him through Philadelphia and Baltimore. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad was being extended toward Point of Rocks on the Potomac River and he rode in the cars to Relay House Station.
The allusion to this railroad warrants a few remarks concerning its appearance at this early period. The Baltimore and Ohio embodied at the date of inception in 1827 the boldest effort in railroad construction. Even when completed by its far-seeing projectors, Fridge, Brown, and Steuart, to the Ohio River in 1853 it was still the longest continuity of rails operated under one charter in this or in any other country. Yet, when Mr. Stuart first rode upon it in 1833, the larger part of its motive power was supplied by the horse.
Two methods were utilized in applying horse power. By the first method, the horses moved on a horse path and pulled a cable attached to the forward car. This was "canalling."
The second method was different. Here the horse was stationed upon the forward car of the "brigade" as trains were then termed, and stood upon a wide belt passing over a drum. The drum was geared to the axle of the wheels, and, when the horse moved, the motion was communicated in accelerated degree to the wheels. When the "engineer" (if the driver can be so termed) received the signal to start he drew forward the brake handle (just as the engineer draws out the throttle of the locomotive) and Dobbin feeling the tread-mill slipping, began stepping onward, thus propelling the train of coach-like bodies. A surprising pageant indeed, one of these "brigades" filled with farmers and their wives, and the medley composing the passenger list, gliding apace along rails laid on granite sleepers while tantaras from the engineer's horn evoked echoes on those pleasant fields of Maryland.
Three steam locomotives only where then in service. They were named "York," "Atlantic," and "Franklin" and the empirical arrangement of their construction was due to theories soon to be discarded. Their boilers were upright and likewise their cylinders. Their piston rods alternately pushed up and pulled down walking beams connected with the diminutive driving wheels and the action of these walking beams reminded beholders of the kicking motion of a grasshopper's hind legs. From this appearance they derived their name "Grasshopper Locomotives."
How little Mr. Stuart, while riding the first time on the B. & O. realized that long, long afterward he would meet and come to know the man who had demonstrated in 1829 that this railroad could and must be operated by the "Steam Horse." That man was the noble Peter Cooper and his successful demonstration was made by the tiny locomotive which he himself constructed and ran from Baltimore through Relay to Ellicott's Mills.
Once in after years when the train flashed by Relay, Mr. Stuart pointed it out to his son who was making his initial visit to Washington, and alluded to those beginnings of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Ah! The years were roiled away! He recalled the place as revealed when the "brigade" emerged from the deep cutting that morn, years before this latter time, and in the distance the station was in view. In fancy came the mellow cadence of the "engineer's" horn, postilion like, warning all concerned to make ready for transition. There was Relay once again! But fallen from its erstwhile estate of importance into the desuetude foredoomed to every work of man. Gone that ample platform thronged with travellers! Gone those granite sleepers! The Stone Age in Railroading! Gone the curious iron rails - archaic vehicles and motive power, manners, methods, one and all tentative - having served the day and generation! Ever "the old order changeth and yieldeth place to new!"
From Relay the stage coach conveyed him toward Washington, past that bloody field of Bladensburg. There, just outside the limits of the District of Columbia, was fought one of the battles of the Second War with England, and the capture of our National Capital by the British army ensued. But aside from this event the spot deserves the title "bloody" for upon this Gretna Green many "affairs of honor" had taken place conducted under the etiquette of the Code Duello. Hither came the duelists from Washington. Here the intrepid Decatur, scarce a dozen years earlier, had gone down before the aim of Barron and an untimely end had marked the career of the author of the sentiment-
"Our Country! Always right!
But right or wrong, our Country!"
Other combats on this field of Bladensburg recurred to him as the stage coach progressed toward the Southland and set him to musing on the condition of society, which made the declination of a challenge an exercise of higher moral courage than the acceptance. Thus it was with Decatur who disapproved of the Code and yet ever yielded to its demands, fearing public opinion would regard his known bravery as having weakened with advancing years. The sentiments expressed in the correspondence of these duelists are so mawkish that we wonder how men of sincerity could have entertained them. Whatever glamour may have once invested the duel, disappeared forever when an Illinois jury convicted the successful duelist of murder in the first degree and the sheriff hanged him.
As Mr. Stuart rode through the National Capital, little was he aware that he would be there three decades later during intensely stirring times! The Washington spread before him in the 30's was an unattractive village, straggling around a few great public edifices, the strongest possible contrast to the Washington he visited in 1883 for the last time, and for which he held the greatest admiration.
The Richmond school proved uncongenial and the scholars turbulent - during the very first week one of the school boys stabbed a fellow scholar! At the house on Shockoe Hill, where Mr. Stuart boarded, the fare was "hog and hominy and hoe cake." Richmond itself, however, impressed him. It was "half city and half country," beautifully situated, and though containing only twelve thousand inhabitants, extended widely. He considered the State House a majestic building despite its plainness. He noted in its atrium a statue of George Washington so unlike the models with which he was familiar that it did not please him. On the pedestal was inscribed, "Fait par Goudon citoyen Francais, 1798." In this inscription he saw the hand of Jefferson who was, he remarked, "three-quarters French and one-quarter American."
Relinquishing Richmond he took passage on the schooner "Wasp," S. H. Worth, Captain, for New York. The craft moved leisurely down the James River from "The Rocketts" anchoring at intervals and giving opportunity to study the plantations of "Tidewater Virginia." "Swallow Barn" so delightfully portrayed in 1833 by John P. Kennedy, and "The Old Plantation" located on the Lower Chesapeake Shore of Maryland, described in James Hungerford's narrative, dated in 1832, were counterparts of those which Mr. Stuart observed from the deck of the schooner. For a better view he climbed the mast-head of the "Wasp" as it glided past the one house and half-dozen tall ghost-like chimneys which constituted the sole relics of Jamestown, and the desolate appearance of this historic spot left a mournful recollection. He held in pleasant memory an anchorage at Hampton Roads where he and Captain Worth put in an open boat for a day's duck shooting. This reconnaissance on the James River and Chesapeake Bay was of avail to him thirty years later when tracing on the map the engagement between the "Monitor" and the "Merrimack" and the marching and countermarching of the two armies in the War of the Rebellion for the shores of the James and of the Chesapeake were distinctly recalled.
At last weathering Cape Henry the "Wasp" turned her prow for Sandy Hook and after a voyage that was very stormy, glided into New York Harbor.
He filled a place as clerk with Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor, 60 Wall Street. It was a firm in an extensive way of business principally in cotton factorage and one of its adjuncts was a forge shop or foundry at Paterson, N.J., where in short time Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor were to commence the manufacture of locomotives. As late as 1878 one of these old locomotives was pointed out by Mr. Stuart at the Grand Central Station and he called attention to the brass letters "R. K. & G." on the steam-chest. Under the title of "Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works," which the concern assumed after the death of Thomas Rogers in 1856, the establishment became known the world over.
Mr. Stuart's duties were simple. A task at which he was set by his employers was labelling and filing business letters. Then he was directed to meet nearly all the incoming ships. Making inquiry of one captain, the latter presented in answer his log book written in Norwegian! Boarding another vessel brought him in contact with the commander, a Frenchman of infinite gesticulation, and the palaver was finally adjourned to the shore to take "Conseil" as the captain expressed it.
His desk at the Rogers, Ketchum * Grosvenor office was surrounded with samples of cotton, while a throng of Southern cotton growers and cotton speculators crowded about these samples. To him, a newcomer, the disjointed phrases coming from this hib-bub of voices, such as "How is Sea Islands," "What does Liverpool say," "Long Staple," etcetera, sounded very strangely. Yet to his surprise he found that his employer, keen-sighted broker though he was, possessed an exquisite sense of poetry for which he had a great fondness. The merchants of Wall Street in the days of "Auld lang syne," he perceived were men of liberal education and noted that they transacted their business with military prompitude and energy.
At two o'clock his duties took him over to the "Exchange" on Wall Street not far from the office. At that hour gathered those whose business required personal attendance, and this gathering embraced practically all the merchants of the city.
He studied this daily assemblage at the Exchange with deep interest. Some stood in groups, some in pairs. Many were well-dressed gentlemen bearing themselves with easy grace, but, whether well dressed or the reverse, all were on business intent - not a lounger among them. The figures and countenances varied. Here a figure lean as Shylock. Over there a plethoric Dutchman talking to a companion with the unmistakable mahogany tinted countenance of the East Indian. Quakers, Spaniards, Yankees -- all these types were brought together in this throng and fell under his observant eye. A diverting forum indeed for one who aimed to enter the legal profession!
Is mercantile career was brief. Through the kindly efforts of Mr. Morris Ketchum he was translated from the babel of the counting room to the upstairs quietude of the law office of William Emerson, brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Mr. Stuart used to relate that Ralph Waldo Emerson and his brother William, tilting their chairs and projecting their feet over the window sill into Wall Street, would talk hour after hour. Seated a few feet away, he could not avoid hearing their conversation on those lines which, designated usually Transcendentalism, have become famous. Nearly fifty years later he smilingly admitted to the intimate friend and admirer of Emerson, the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, of Boston, that in 1833 these lines of conversation did not appeal to him. "I simply could not grasp them," he said.
They had not acquired that epigrammatic crystallization which forms so great a charm in Emerson's writing and stamps him the Umpire Philosopher. That very crystallization when it came, as finally it did, appealed to him with force, as for instance the following quotations which he pencil-marked one summer afternoon while reading Miss Woolson's novel "Anne," where they appeared as chapter headings:
"Manners - not what but how. Manners are happy ways of doing things; each once a stroke of genius or of love -- now repeated and hardened into usage. Manners required time; nothing is more vulgar than haste."
"In our society there is a standing antagonism between the conservative and the democratic classes; between the interest of dead labor; that is the labor of hands long ago still in the grave; which labor is now entombed in money, stocks and land owned by idle capitalists, and the interests of living labor, which seeks to possess itself of them."
"We accompany the youth with sympathy and manifold old sayings of the wise to the gate of the arena, but it is certain that not by strength of ours or by the old sayings but only on the strength of his own, unknown to us or to any, he must stand or fall."
The Rev. Peter Bulkeley of Concord and Charles Chauncey, President of Harvard College, were ancestors of both Mr. Stuart and Mr. Emerson. The fact, however, was not known to either at the time of this meeting. Mutual knowledge that tie of kinship existed would have led to more sympathetic acquaintance and thereby doubtless then would have given Mr. Stuart that comprehension of Emerson's greatness of intellect; for Mr. Stuart, at least in later years, was an unerring critic of a man's mental ability.
His environment in Vermont had not qualified Mr. Stuart for this meeting with Emerson. Quite the contrary. He had been brought up to measure men by the inflexible standard that had come through the Revolutionary period from an earlier era.
Captain John Stewart, his grandfather - a rugged veteran of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary Wars - did not move in line with the trend of philosophic thought which had its starting point in Massachusetts. Aaron Stewart gave evidence of departure from the early standard of Vermont, doubtless owing to the Puritan strain derived from his mother, Huldah Hubbell Stewart, for the Hubbels were distinctly of that Puritan type which came in the Winthrop company in 1630 and which Oliver Wendell Holmes has termed the Brahmin Caste of New England. Homer, however, had not come under the influence of his father, but had been swayed by the precepts of his deeply loved and respected grandsire. Therefore the canons of his earlier years as applied to men and modes of thought were destined ere long to be supplanted with the measurement decreed by the catholicity which was his Bulkeley-Chauncey heritage. That the earlier views were overthrown is not surprising.
Wafted from the past floats the aura of one's forebears. We are trustees for the oncoming generations. Long ago the trust was stamped and induction into the trust is ruled by unknown laws of heredity which claim at wide intervals the individual best fitted to administer the trust with fidelity. Such individual cannot choose but serve, albeit subconsciously. With these conditions in view the outcome of the conflict could have been forseen. The question was merely the length of time required to give that maturity which should qualify him keenly to appreciate Emerson. Observation of humanity and profound reflection were to train him while ripening into his maturity. The training was to be on a frontier arena confronting able antagonists - training, drilling him to think with utmost clearness, and to utter his thought with beautiful precision, training inculcating quick sympathy for the poor and lowly, without regard to color, creed, or race.
What would have been the career of this versatile thinker if his formative years had been passed in the historic galaxy of "Brook Farm: contemporaries? He was intellectually their equal. His capacity for enjoyment of such companionship was of the highest degree. To have communed with Hawthorne would have been a joy to both.
How similar the inclination of mind of these two! Take the following written in 1829 when Mr. Stuart was nineteen. How similar to many of the musings by Hawthorne in his Note Book!
Saturday Night, Nov. 1st
"It is a cold, dreary November night. The rain and hail are pattering against my windows and the wind is whistling, moaning and roaring among the huge chimneys of the college. Lights can be seen in the village through the storm and everything has that cheerless aspect so much better felt than described. Yet I am always happier at such a time than any other. There is a nameless and peculiar pleasure in looking forth upon the low grey clouds and the dull desolate storm of November and a kind of excitement in walking through it in a dark evening (if well wrapped up). It seems as if it was emblematic of the life of man - begun in smiles and sunshine and ended in tears and darkness.
In an evening like this how supremely content a person feels to be situated as I am now with a warm fire, a snug room with books and a pipe on a table before me, a dish of chocolate on the fire and alone! It seems as if you were far separated from the bustle and noise of the world and had retired within yourself and dependent upon no one but yourself for your enjoyment. By the way, I intend that Dan shall take a cup with me. A person in college always has a circle of friends with whom he enjoys himself much. I spend some of my happiest moments in talking with my chum or with Seymour. Last night Seymour any myself sat over the embers in this room till 12:00 talking to each other of old times, school days, &c. And time slips fast when so employed. I'm half the time in this room or he is in mine and our thoughts in many respects are similar. But he had the advantage of me in a fine form and graceful carriage. And my chum is the handsomest young fellow I ever saw and notwithstanding that he has a very sound mind and no vanity."
Take another example, where the mood is sadder, written while teaching school the following year:
Warren, Vt., March 9th, 1830
"What a curious effect music has! It is the richest and purest pleasure and gives birth to feelings which an angel might envy. It is a kind of melancholy happiness, a saddened joy that is infinitely superior to all the gratifications of noisy mirth. At such a moment the tired soul rests from all her cares, from ambition and hate, from pride and from all those dark feelings and passions which mark the alloy of our nature and the connexion of soul and matter. I have been listening for some minutes past to the song called "Blue-eyed Mary." The words themselves are pensive and touching and when warbled with taste by a pretty girl it is difficult to believe that the "blue-eyed Stranger" is not breathing forth her blighted hopes and her desolate heart. We are made of clay I know, but once in a while a train of feelings will come across the dull currents of our hearts that belong to a better world than this and cause us like the Peri that had caught a glimpse of Heaven to turn back a saddened and reluctant eye upon our own condition."
How keen the appreciation of Natural Phenomenon in the following:
December 11th, 1830, Bridport.
"Ten o'clock. The Northern Lights are more brilliant than ever I saw them before. The whole heaven is filled with them and they form at the zenith an apex that surpasses in grandeur and beauty anything the imagination can conceive of. Slender lines of delicate white diverge from the horizon and meet at a point like the converged rays of the sun producing a focus of light sufficiently strong to read by. But strange as it may seem, the stars can be seen through it. It reminds one of Ossian's description of the spirit of Loda:
"The wan star twinkled through his form."
It is not difficult to fancy that you see in the heavens mighty armies contending with each other; banners fluttering and streaming over them and, in fine 'all the pride and pomp and circumstance of war." And it has an unnatural appearance that cannot be described. I will pardon the rude Indian when he gazed upon them or the beleaguered inhabitants of Jerusalem for believing that they saw in these borealean phenomena the portentous announcement of divine of divine wrath and the precoursers of their city's destruction.
I should have no difficulty in imagining that I saw in the sky a flaming sword like that which is said to have hung over Jerusalem. I could myself see the Roman and Judean bands contending together; I could see the broken squadrons; the rushing charge of the cavalry; the confused rout and all the current of headlong flight. And if I had lived eighteen centuries ago I might have trembled; as it was I felt a pleasing but sublime awe like that produced by the roll of distant thunder. Although we have not the rich fruits and exuberant fertility of the tropics yet there is beauty in the northern sky compared with which all the splendour of a Southern Night would be tame and vapid. This equal distribution of natural flavours marks the beneficence of the Great First Cause and is well calculated to produce at least a momentary feeling of gratitude. There is no need of revelation to teach us that there is a God. Everything proclaims it from the tiny denizens of the grass to the rolling spheres-
"Forever singing as they shine,
The hand that formed us is divine."
His intercourse with Nature was not less intimate than Thoreau's. How he and Thoreau would have fraternized upon the expedition which is narrated as follows:
Middlebury College, No. 47, Sept 2, 1829
"I have had a regular tramp since last I was seated at my old table and have seen enough of woods and mountains, rocks and streams to satisfy any person that has as Leather Stocking says no cross I blood. The Monday after commencement John Hooker and myself started to have a walk among the mountains and to view the country. We stayed in Starsboro' the first night at the house of a Quaker and rioted on fried pork and potatoes at the rate of 25 cents for supper, lodging and breakfast. The old Quaker sat with his hand in his vest and told long droning stories of the hardships which the first settlers endured; how the wolves would howl at his door and the bears would carry off his hogs, &c., &c. The next day we walked 18 miles through a region where there was scarcely a footpath and crossed a high mountain, one of the chain of mountains which run through the State. Part of our walk was a footpath by the side of a fine trout stream that wound its way through the woods, now brawling over the stones of glancing down in mimic waterfalls and again gliding along in a still deep channel as clear as a spring. Every few rods up started a flock of partridges whirling away with a roar into the woods. Our path led across mountain streams which we crossed by trees bridging the gulf, sometimes at the height of 20 feet from the water. These trees would swing and teter as we passed over them in a manner not very agreeable. We reached my mother's house about 3 o'clock Tuesday and I spent that and the next day in talking with her and looking at the bees. Thursday a party of eleven went to the top of "Camel's Hump" and we were as wild looking a company as ever I saw. We had packs and some carried guns and every man had at least three dogs. We had to walk eight miles to get to the mountain. The whole of the way was through woods and over mountains which I should call high, if I had never been on the "Hump." Our guides who were accustomed to traveling in the woods hurried on like wolves and the fatigue to me was almost unsupportable. The forest was so dense that we could not see out at all and our guides were forced to climb trees to see in what direction the mountain lay. I saw one of them climb a tall spruce till he was at least 80 feet from the ground and the trunk at that height was not larger than my arm. It made my head swim to look at him and it would have made a bear's to follow him. At last we reached the top of the mountain after an almost perpendicular ascent. This peak according to the measurement of Captain Partridge is 4186 feet above the level of tide water and Mansfield North Mountain or Peak called the "Chin" is 4279 feet, not quite a hundred feet higher than the "Hump." Mansfield "Chin" is the highest in the State. We had one of the finest prospects in the world. Al the Northern and Middle part of Vermont; Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga to St. John's; the White Hills in New Hampshire and a part of Canada lay spread out below us like a map. It was a most glorious prospect! Camel's Hump is singularly formed; the top of it is a vast rock plateau on the top of a high mountain. This rock on the south side descends perpendicularly 150 or 200 feet. To go within two or three yards of the edge and look down will make a person feel peculiar. I scarcely dared send over a stone lest I should fall off with it. Everything below us seemed nearly level. I noticed one thing which appeared very singular. The land seemed to ascend the farther distant it was or in other words, we stood at the bottom of a vast concavity and it seemed as if Lake Cham. Would immediately flow down to the foot of the mountain as if its banks were broken; this was probably owning to a refraction of the air or to some other cause which could be explained on philosophic principles. Below the precipice on the south side of the mountain is a vast forest that extends a number of miles to the East, South and West; a forest that has never felt the axe and still stands in the same gloomy silence in which it has remained since the Creation. I stood on a point of rock above the precipice when the setting sun was sending the shadow of the mountain far to the eastward and touching with an almost unearthy hue the sombre forests below me and the summits of the neighboring mountains. A cold mist was flying by me which was lit up by the rays of the sun into all the hues of the rainbow and seemed to realize the beautiful description by Byron of the Spirit's Home:
"My mansion in the clouds
Which the breath of twilight builds
And the summer sunset guilds
With the azure and vermillion
Which is mixed for my pavillion."
As I stood and looked down upon the forests below, I felt a species of awe which I never before felt. It required but a small stretch of imagination to fancy the forest below was some vast assemblage of people. In fact, a person could imagine what he pleased in such a situation. I delivered a couple of declamations without drawing any particular marks of approbation from my audience with the exception of a couple of large ravens which had established themselves in a large tree below me and croaked in a manner which might have been mistaken for Encore! Encore! But I am not vain.
John Hooker, my brother and myself stayed on the top of the mountain all night. We kindled a large fire and spent the night in talking, looking at the stars and trying to sleep. All below was in a deep shade and to look down the sides of the mountain seemed like looking into a vast cavern, but all the stars shown with uncommon brilliancy. We were above the mists and smoke of the lower world, and they seemed much more bright than they do even in a cold winter night. The prospect a little before sunrise was grand. Below us on the East for 50 miles in extent it was one level sea of fog of the purest white, checkered here and there by the top of some blue mountain that rose above it and looked like an island as beautiful as even the far famed and poetic Atlantis. In a short time, the sun rose far off over the mountains of New Hampshire, and when its level beams fell on the mist it assumed all the splendid coloring of the evening clouds. It was a sight that richly repaid us for all our toil. About an hour after sunrise, we took a line of march for home (Duxbury) which we reached a little after noon, Saturday we came as far as Lincoln, and Sunday we went to Bristol, attended meeting and in the afternoon walked home. If my uncle will let me, I shall go to the White Mountains next week with Hyde."
A tree to him was adorable. Beneath some lofty Weymouth pine he would harken to the wind soughing through the boughs, and, with a smile, murmur, "It is singing Wareham." That vista of Ocean as his vessel passed out of the Chesapeake! Many a time in later years when a heavy storm was brewing, did he go to Rockaway Beach and spend a day looking out over the billows sweeping shoreward and muse. Watching a procession of clouds, the expression of his grave face took on a kind of rapture. The poetic was the side present to his mind. What friendships he would have formed at Concord! But this was not to be. He and Ralph Waldo Emerson were fated, thus to meet and thus to pass.
Not being attracted to Emerson his attention was turned to Aaron Burr, then a resident of New York. Col. Burr, wearing a cloak of military cut and glancing quickly from side to side with glittering eyes as he traversed the streets, was in the twilight of his career in 1833, a figure at whom passers-by turned to gaze and Mr. Stuart studied deeply this survivor of the political era which succeeded the Revolutionary War. He listed to the views of contemporaries of Burr and Hamilton and came to the conclusion that had the duel at Weehawken resulted in the death of Burr, then the martyred Hamilton might have received in some measure the obloquy with which Nemesis pursues the successful duellist in after life and that has been dealt out to Burr's memory.
But, even so, he looked upon Aaron Burr as the arch schemer who introduced into our laws that type of corporation which is disguised to mask the end actually sought and which conceals powers of monopoly under ambiguous phrases. He pondered often over Burr's subtle intellect and parliamentary dexterity, which found its congenial employment in this form of covert attack upon the policy of our institutions. Often would Mr. Stuart, as he went by the old building No. 40 Wall Street (long since torn down) turn to gaze at the gigantic statue of the Water God Aquarius with his amphora placed above the doorway. He appreciated the subtlety that, utilizing for its pretext a period of fever arising from contaminated pumps and wells, could draft an Act entitled "An Act to Supply the City of New York with Pure and Wholesome Water" and holding nevertheless a Banking Corporation of endless duration hidden under its water surface. And the corporation's decision that Aquarius was a more appropriate emblem than Mercury for paper money amused him with its sardonic humor. And he thought with what a sarcastic smile Aaron Burr passing through Wall Street must have glanced up at that heathen image and have chuckled to think how he had opened the door for the army of corporations modelled on this prototype which were stealing into all the channels of business and dominating private effort and enterprise. Stories were related to him telling how Burr was wont secretly to scrutinize the title of some parcel of land. If an available flaw caught his attention he would quietly lay his plans and then come down upon the unsuspecting owner who would have to buy him off. How much truth there was in these stories it is impossible to say. Burr called on a client, and lady who had a club foot. This deformity made her waddle in an uncouth manner and upon entering the parlor, she begged Mr. Burr to excuse her awkwardness. "Really, Madam," he replied with a most gallant bow, "I deemed it merely a graceful limp." And then that retort of Burr to Chancellor Kent when the latter, forgetting his proprieties, shouted "You are a scoundrel." "The opinions of the learned Chancellor are always entitled to the highest consideration."
Mr. Stuart was notified he could come out to Ohio and complete his legal education in the office of Joshua A. Giddings who afterwards attained great prominence as Member of Congress from the Northwestern Reserve. Toward the middle of 1834, he departed for the West. But he did not go as far as Ohio for he paused in Western New York, where he secured a place as law student in the office of James Burt at Franklinville, near Olean in Cattaraugus County. He worked for his board at Mr. Burt's and was allowed the use of the meagre (sic) library.
For sixteen months he rode the circuit in Cattaraugus and adjoining counties in Pennsylvania and New York, and, not having been admitted to the bar, tried such Justice of the Peace actions as are entrusted to the neophyte. He recalled that in one of these actions - in Allegany County, a "horse case", lasting two days - he was pitted against a rough hewn young fellow, named Martin Grover, whom many years afterwards he found sitting as one of the judges of the Court of Appeals at Albany.
His journeys in this rough region when the weather was inclement entailed hardship. He used often to reach home at midnight, and tired as he was, would have to care for his equally tired horse before going to rest himself. He was in his twenty-fifth year five feet eight and one-half, "well set up", as the phrase went, and exceedingly active. When weary of riding he would spring from the saddle and run two or three miles along the trail threading those primeval forests, his well trained horse trotting close behind. Usually he carried a rifle to bring down such game as he encountered.
One business expedition led him to Fort Wayne, Indiana. He made his way to Lake Erie and sailed to Cleveland where the boat stopped awhile and then, resuming the voyage till the corner of Michigan came in view, turned into the harbor of Toledo. There he embarked on a periauger and paddled for more than a hundred miles on the Maumee River. The stream flowed sluggishly between walls of trees towering above the margin and festooned with vines. During the voyage a large wild turkey tried to fly over the river and, its strength failing, fell into the water where it was easily captured. Landings here and there led to log cabins beyond the marshy borders of the Maumee. Near one of these cabins towered an immense "button ball" tree, with a curl of smoke rising through its foliage. He was amused to find it a "smoke-house." It had a rude door and a fire smouldered within the cavity which extended up to and orifice among the branches. Hanging from pegs were hams, one of which the gaunt sallow mistress of the cabin reached with a long pole, and took down to cut a few slices to fry with eggs for his meal. Like most of these settlers, she suffered from chills and fever, and the free use of whiskey were assumed to hold in check this ailment. Asking her for a drink, she stepped into a barrel and filling a bowl handed it to him. Supposing it was water, he took a mouthful, only to blister his mouth with raw spirit. Thereupon he asked for water. "Go out to the spring", she replied, pointing to an enclosure of rails, at some distance. Here he found a spring, but it welled up in a swampy spot where filthy hogs were wallowing, so he went without a drink. Is it any wonder that such careless sanitary arrangements caused almost universal sickness among the first settlers in Ohio and Indiana? The woodlands were filled with droves of half wild hogs roving about for food and only occasionally being fed at the house.
The raftsmen, who floated logs down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh, Pa., assembled their "drives" at Olean. These lumbermen and rivermen were wild and lawless. Olean at this period was quite as disorderly as most frontier settlements. Gambling, quarrelling and violence rendered Olean anything but attractive to him and he was very glad when his classmate Horatio Seymour (not the Horatio Seymour, Governor of New York) secured him a position at Lockport, N.Y., in the office of Robert H. Stevens, District Attorney of Niagara County. He reached Lockport in December 1835, and for about ten years made it his home. On his arrival he met congenial young men and social intercourse with these educated gentlemen, after the Circuit Riding, in those forelorn, forbidding settlements of Northern Pennsylvania, was indeed welcome. Speaking of these men, he used to enumerate John G. Saxe, the poet; Sullivan Caverno; Mortimer M. Southworth; Washington Hunt; etc. They met at the hotel for their meals. The hotel-keeper set out spirits freely with the meals, but whoever drank brandy or whiskey was expected to buy port or Madeira wine, and if a boarder failed to do so he became aware soon of unfriendly regard on the part of his host. The results of this mistaken hospitality were only too evident in the intemperance at Lockport in those days and Mr. Stuart saw some promising careers ruined.
Everything was flourishing and a great future was predicted for Lockport. A railroad from Lockport to Niagara Falls was just completed and in making a trip over it a curious incident befell him. The passenger car was very small and as he entered he tripped over a sprawling leg. Its owner, an immense man, made no move to withdraw the leg, but, most curiously begging his pardon, explained that it was rigid from a wound received during the War of 1812. Mr. Stuart entering into conversation responded that he had lost his father in that war. The gentleman asked in what regiment he served and upon learning said, "Why, I was Colonel of that regiment! What was your father's name?" "Aaron Stewart from Vermont, an Orderly Sergeant." "Is that so? I distinctly recall Sergeant Stewart. He was a splendid soldier." How surprising was this chance meeting! How gratifying to Mr. Stuart to talk with one who knew and appreciated his father. This individual was Colonel Eleazer W. Ripley and he told a great deal about the operations in that war.
In the beginning of this Memoir allusion was made to a letter written by Aaron Stewart and it may not be amiss to reproduce it here. It is as follows:
"New Haven, March 11th, 1813.
Hon'd Sir: - Nature in her unerring decrees has wisely ordained a law which imposes a duty from man to man as citizens, teaching them their dependence on each other, which constitutes the basis and cements the bonds of society. And although one man's talents may infinitely outshine another's "tis a gift he received from the predisposes of events and if philanthropy is a companion of knowledge he must commiserate those below him - not by a cold expression of sorrow - but by a benevolent act of kindness, which may be done in various ways without expense, and with very little trouble. You, my honored sir, have this gift within your power. You have two sons who are amply provided with the good things of this life - another exactly the reverse. He has a request for you to make to one of your friends who will be happy to oblige you. I have now enrolled my name in the Army of the U.S. The consequence is my own. The necessity of the war we agree in.
I have been introduced to Colonel Ripley who commands my Reg't. He was a classmate in college with S. Swift, Esq. Mr. Hopkins under whom I enlisted told me to carry a line from two who are supposed to be men of influence here. I accordingly did it. The Colo (sic) did not dispute it but told me Nature had signed a recommend in my countenance. In the course of conversation finding I lived in New Haven he asked me if I was acquainted with Mr. Swift. I told him I was, he replied that any direction from Mr. Swift would supercede the necessity of any further inquiries.
That, sir, is the request I wish you to make to him. It will meliorate my condition and Mr. Swift will not hesitate to grant you that favor. I now enclose the substance of what I wish him to write with a desire for him to dress it in such a manner as he pleases and give it to me in an open letter to Colo (sic) Ripley. This favor if you concede to it and if it should be my lot to fall in the service of the constituted authority of my country, you will have the consolating reflection of granting the last favor ever solicited by your unfortunate, & wishing to be your dutiful son.
Mr. John Stewart.
Addressed to "Cap't John Stewart, Middlebury".
Mr. Stuart passed his examination for admission to the bar at Utica, July 15th, 1836. Joshua A. Spencer was the examiner. Mr. Stuart once related that Luther R. Marsh, who sat next to him, became perplexed over questions upon "trover" propounded by Mr. Spencer. When Marsh was apparently cornered, Mr. Spencer asked, "At this stage of the action, what would you do?" Marsh pondered awhile and replied, "I would advise my client to retain as special counsel, Joshua A. Spencer." The humor of this reply carried the day and with a general "laugh" he was passed. Mr. Marsh and Mr. Stuart, meeting thus for the first time, became lifelong friends; Mr. Marsh was a most tactful speaker and graceful writer and a lawyer of rare adroitness. His hallucination as to "Diss De Barr Spirit Pictures", which caused such widespread comment, was a sadness to all who knew Mr. Marsh. They deeply regretted seeing this courteous, venerable man exposed to the storm of ridicule showered upon him by the public press.
Soon after Mr. Stuart's admission to practice, he formed a partnership with Mr. Stevens and later Billings P. Learned came from New London, Conn., and was admitted to the firm which became very successful.
The business of the firm required the partners to do a great deal of traveling to and fro between the different county seats, as well as to Buffalo and Albany and into Canada West, or Upper Canada, as the Province of Ontario was then termed. In his first years at Lockport before the railroad links were united in a continuous line between Buffalo and Albany, he traveled on the packet boats of the Erie Canal and greatly enjoyed the experience. These boats were much faster than the boats of burthen and moved along, night as well as day, with a surge that swept the banks. If one was not in great haste, this canal transportation was a delightful method of viewing the country.
In May, 1837, he married Miss Jane E. Campbell in Windsor, Vermont. She was the daughter of Edward Raymond Campbell. Three children were born in Lockport, N.Y., of this marriage.
Being a fine speaker, he was greatly in demand during the political campaigns. He once made a tour with Silas Wright, speaking with him daily and nightly from the same platform. One of his treasured mementos was an ivory-headed hickory cane with a silver circlet inscribed, "Homer H. Stuart from Andrew Jackson." President Jackson who knew him personally sent this cane to him.
The stand which Jackson took in combating South Carolina Nullification was in consonance with his ideas. Thus quite naturally he stepped in the Jacksonian ranks. The views, however, of Hamilton, rather than those of Jefferson, appealed to him and the period of his activity in the Jacksonian Democracy was merely an episode. Although he believed in party organization, the mere party name was never sacrosanct. He clung to the principle, let the name go where it listed. But in 1844 he ceased all political work, and withdrew from his law firm. Mr. Learned also withdrew and a little later went to Albany where he engaged in banking and became president of the old Union Bank of Albany. Mr. Stuart brought his family to Williamsburgh, then a separate municipality, but for many years past a part of Brooklyn. He was corporate counsel for Williamsburgh till its union with Brooklyn and also had an office in New York City.
Soon, however, a great grief overtook him in the deaths, within the space of six months, of his wife and two of the children. The business failure of his brother-in-law, for whom he had endorsed notes, swept away all his accumulations and left him without means. Leaving Williamsburgh, he settled in New York City and applied himself to his profession and to the recoupment of his fortune.
It was in 1847 that he became acquainted with Edgar Allan Poe, whom he used to meet familiarly. He did not endorse Rufus Wilmot Griswold's report which has clung persistently to Poe's memory, namely, that Poe was a hard drinker. Whatever wildness Poe may have shown while a student in Virginia had disappeared at the date of his acquaintance, and his bearing was that of a quiet and refined gentleman. Mr. Stuart said his manner was shy and that he was never garrulous. He would smile as he related how Poe was wont to declaim "The Raven" in a singalong tone. While not especially attracted by Poe's prose writings, nevertheless for his versification he had the greatest admiration and could quote "Annabel Lee" and contrast it with Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and analyze them in an effort to locate the charm.
He was on pleasant terms with James Fenimore Cooper, whose works he delighted in reading. He contributed to the Knickerbocker Magazine and knew Lewis Gaylord Clark, its editor, George H. Colton, the poet, (who died early in life leaving the poem "Tecumpseh" a forerunner of Longfellow's "Hiawatha"); Lewis Tappan; the versatile and charming Christopher P. Cranch and the courtly William Betts, whose delightful country seat, "Merriwood", revealed at once the scholar and the aristocrat. Nor must there be omitted from these friends the name of Andrew Jackson Downing, who yielded his life to save that of a stranger, when the burning of the Hudson River steamboat "Henry Clay" occurred, and whose career of only thirty-seven years bears out the saying, "To Genius belongs the Hereafter", for that Genius lives to-day in the landscape gardening environing our National Capitol, and in many of the beautiful estates along the Hudson.
September 4, 1849, Mr. Stuart married, in New York City, Miss Margaret Elizabeth Dunbar, born in Worthington, Conn., May 28, 1826. She was the daughter of Daniel Dunbar and Katharine Chauncey Goodrich. Samuel G. Goodrich ("Peter Parley") was the uncle of Mrs. Homer H. Stuart and cordial intercourse existed between Mr. Goodrich and Mr. Stuart. Often did Mr. Goodrich consult him in the preparation of his works and notably in his last work, "The Illustrated Animal Kingdom", in two volumes - a work which has had few equals for popular reading and reference.
Adjoining Mr. Stuart's country place was a small farm. Its owner - a very aged colored man - was called "Barkalow." He was of the best type of the pure blooded African, full six feet, straight, well proportioned; his very dark countenance surmounted by snowy wool and revealing, when he smiled, beautiful teeth. He had been brought from Africa in childhood soon after the Revolutionary War and while yet a young man had purchased his freedom. For many years he had followed the vocation of supplying the New York market with wild fowl shot on the salt marshes and bays, and at last by dint of economy had paid for this demesne of a dozen or so acres. With the aid of his grandson he tilled successfully and lived comfortably.
Sunday afternoons Mr. Stuart would stroll over to see "Barkalow", and would lean against the old rail fence listening to his discourse. He enjoyed hearing him discuss the phenomena of Nature of which the aged man had been an acute and accurate observer. "Barkalow's" description of life on the "Salt Meadows" was often a topic and fascinated Mr. Stuart who loved those beautiful expanses fringing the Southern shore of "Seawanhaka", the Montauk Indian name for Long Island. "Barkalow" related how out upon the broad meadow he had erected a comfortable wigwam thatched both wall and top with driftwood gathered from bleached winrow defining the vanguard line of the new moon tide. It had a hearth and a couch of meadow hay. In graphic language he recounted the calm that came over him when the hunting of the day had ended and he and the retriever had returned to the humble roof. How he would prepare the evening meal and then lie down to be lulled by a cricket choir chirping in the thatch of the wigwam. How, when wakeful, he would lie watching the fitful gleam of the fire and note the whimpering of wild fowl, winging through the night, while from afar came the booming of the Atlantic, Deep calleth unto Deep. "There I felt never lonely". As he talked thus, in well chosen speech, it was hard indeed to realize that he was unlettered. Mr. Stuart often said, "Barkalow" was a poet", and a true attachment existed between them.
Another "dusky" neighbor was "Aunt Mary Crummell", mother of the Reverend Alexander Crummell, who was graduated at Cambridge, England, took orders in the Church of England, and went to Liberia where of officiated for years and where "Aunt Mary" died. Later he returned and was a rector of St. Luke's, Washington, D.C. In 1883 both he and Mr. Stuart were at Saratoga and the Reverend Mr. Crummell conducted the evening service.
Allusion to "Barkalow" and Alexander Crummell summons to mind the Anti-Slavery Agitation. A member of the Stuart family had migrated to Virginia and acquired slaves. In 1799 this Stuart liberated his slaves and to make sure that their freedom never would be taken away, sent them to Londonderry, N.H. "Aunt Flora" and her "pickaninnies", "George Washington", "Isaiah" and "Salona", made the long journey from "Dixie Land", grew up, lived useful, happy lives in this quiet hamlet, and, in the fullness of time, one after another, passed away. Aged citizens of Londonderry spoke of them with affection as they recounted the friendship of yore and the tender ministrations of their mother "Aunt Flora" in the sick room. Beneath New Hampshire's turf rest the little band of loyal, law-abiding freedmen and the marbles erected by the town perpetuate the memory of the love in which "Aunt Flora" and "Miss Salona Stuart" were held. Gloaming shrouds the events of one hundred years ago and has obscured the Christian name of their emancipator. But, like the manumission granted centuries earlier by "The Dying Norman Baron", the memory of his righteous action lives --
"Every vassal of his banner,
Every serf born to his manor,
All those wronged and wretched creatures,
By his hand were freed again."
Dislike of Slavery was to be expected of a scion of these Londonderry Stuarts, one born in Vermont, the first State that formally abolished slavery, and this was true in Mr. Stuart's case. He realized it while witnessing slave auctions at Richmond, Virginia. He never forgot the painful emotion then experienced on beholding the sundering of families. Still, on his return to the North, he did not feel debarred from taking part in the local political disputes of New York State, even though he could not blind himself to the fact that the question as to the abolition of Slavery in every one of the States must some day be faced by the nation.
His abrupt withdrawal from politics was due to an incident in 1844. An Abolitionist came to Lockport. Mr. Stuart strolled in with some companions to hear the address. The speaker was wanting in tact and offended the audience. An uproar drowned his words every time he tried to plead his cause, but his attempts to resume were pathetic. The outrageous treatment accorded the speaker aroused Mr. Stuart's love of fair play. He went to the platform, and being well known, there was immediate silence. He said in effect that this was a land of free speech and implored the unruly ones to refrain and to grant this man free speech. To the shame of the times the plea was scorned and Mr. Stuart departed from the hall. As he passed through the doorway the local "boss" sneeringly remarked, "You have been a fool tonight and you've ended all your political hopes."
Depressed on account of this incident, recognizing that neither Whig nor Democratic party had courage to face the paramount moral issue, but not prepared to ally himself with the Extremists termed "Liberty Party Men", he absented himself from the political field for a long period. Myron H. Clark, as candidate for Governor of New York in 1854, led varied Anti-Slavery cohorts into the Republican Party. To the support of this party unifying Northern sentiment against the aggression of the Pro-Slavery Party, he came with the earnestness that might have been predicted as the outcome of his long deliberation upon the question at issue.
The "Peculiar Institution" as it was euphemistically termed, had been viewed by Mr. Stuart in its own home land. He had had opportunity to regard it in its best and worst aspects while in the heyday of its existence. A time so far away, dim, traditional, that to the generation of the present day its atmosphere is mere ether. He had seen plantations conducted on the plan of "Swallow Barn", near Richmond, with masters like Frank Merewether, cultivated, intelligent men, kind and indulgent to the slaves, who returned their master's care with love and reverence. On such plantations as these the conditions were superficially almost a justification of the "Institution." Here the bondman first saw the light of day. Here he passed his life. He here loitered or labored pretty much as humor served, a mere child in simplicity and insouciance, with never a thought of the morrow, coming to equality at last beneath the ancient oaks not far from another resting place -
"Where de ivy am a creepin'
'O'er de grassy mound;
Dar ole Massa am a sleepin'
Sleepin' in de cold, cold ground."
As against this aspect of the "Institution" in its most benign form on these Arcadian plantations of Virginia was to be contrasted the ever present possibility that death of the kind master or his insolvency might send these helpless thralls to the Slave Block. That meant sundered home ties and banishment to the dreary cotton fields of Alabama or Texas or to the pestilential sugar cane fields of Louisiana, where the new owner was often an absentee and there the remorseless driver flourished the lash.
Nay there were wrongs even darker if possible. Pennsylvania had enacted that slavery should be abolished but unprincipled slave owners were suspected of having sold secretly to dealers below the "Line," these poor creatures who had attained their freedom. Every freeman of color in some of the Southern States stood in peril of bondage. Some trifling charge might be lodged against him by an evil-minded person. His conviction would follow as a matter of course, and, unable to pay the fine, his sale for a term of years would take place and the buyer could remove him whither he pleased to some distant state where he could never prove his right to freedom.
In this latter aspect the "Institution" stood revealed in all its hideous reality. Mr. Stuart had seen both aspects and understood the matter thoroughly. All the arguments of its sincerest advocates had been listened to by him. Believing, as he did, in the right of every human being to freedom, it is sufficient to say of these arguments that they did not appeal to him. What they were, it is needless to rehearse. The arbitrament if the most decisive war of modern times, has consigned them to oblivion.
To touch, save by allusion, on that tense John Brown period, October 16th to December 2d, 1859, would be inadvisable. The gaze of all the nations focused on that Shenandoah Valley court room, Arnold Winkelried re-embodied in "Ossawatomie" Brown, the old man's composure before that tribunal, his sudden halt to imprint that kiss on the infant, his steadfast tread as he mounted that scaffold, flanked by thousands of Virginia's soldiers, while men of the time, kneeling in the Northern churches at the moment of his soul's flight, were looking beyond that scaffold and its swaying burden into the "dim unknown" of the future - all these accounts more appropriately can be read elsewhere.
It is not surprising that Mr. Stuart was very deeply moved. And yet none more thoroughly than he was aware that cold justice demanded life for life. The logic which impels communities into actions repugnant to the feelings was here exemplified. Is it a matter of wonder that he, a man of the time, a Northern man of Puritan lineage whose forbears had fought at Bothwell Brigg and endured at "Undaunted Londonderry", made an address relative to John Brown pervaded by intense feeling? Have not the nations given a place to John Brown in the Eternal Hall of Fame?
He spoke frequently in the memorable campaign of 1860 for Lincoln and during the Civil War never faltered in his support of the government. Next to Lincoln he admired the whole-souled devotion of Secretary Stanton to the Northern Cause.
The last time he voted at a Presidential election was when with his two sons he cast his ballot for Garfield. He had known Garfield personally for a long time. Owing to a change of residence, he lost the privilege of voting for the Blaine and Logan electors, greatly to his regret, as he was an admirer of Blaine's broad views of American Policy and was well acquainted with General Logan.
With the election of Garfield, however, he regarded the three Constitutional Amendments and the Reconstruction Legislation as beyond the danger of repeal. That, as all this was the final summing up of the war pledged by the flower of the Nation's blood, the North and west would never consent to abrogation.
He believed that during Garfield's Administration the public mind would turn from contemplation of the War Era to a discussion of new issues of a nature essentially different, and yet in spite of his strong attachment to the Republican Party during the dark days of the Rebellion he was too broad-minded to be thereafter at all times and ever a mere party man. Thus in 1876, although he voted against Samuel J. Tilden, he nevertheless voted for Lucius Robinson, Democratic candidate for Governor of New York, and again for him in 1879, and in 1882 he voted for Grover Cleveland and David B. Hill when the latter were candidates for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor. His view of the Tariff Question was that while Free Trade was theoretically correct, yet in consequence of the disturbances in the Nation's affairs resulting from the war, that is was, at this period, neither important nor expedient to establish it. "Only through Protection can we reach Free Trade. When the United States is ready for it and not till then shall we have it." He was not especially alarmed regarding the tendency toward Centralization of Power at Washington for he held that the Supreme Court in its interpretation of the Constitution would check encroachment upon the reserved powers of the States and likewise that this august tribunal of the Nation would curb the corporations. He passed away before the enactment of the Sherman Anti-rust Statute of the 51st Congress, but the principles therein enunciated would have met, it is believed, his approval. As already remarked, an accident in 1884 debarred him from voting for Blaine and Logan. Still, the reflection that the War Legislation was at last firmly knitted, enabled him to regard Blaine's defeat as far less serious than would have been the defeat of Garfield four years earlier. He could not restrain, however, an expression of regret that a coincidence of happenings, trifling in themselves, should have led to the setting aside of the candidate possession in pre-eminent degree fitness for the Presidential chair.
At Washington, where during the 60's and 70's he passed much time, he belonged to a group which used to gravitate together in an unpremeditated manner at the Ebbitt House and in later times at the Arlington Hotel. Among these may be recalled the witty, genial Henry Martyn Slade; Francis E. Woolridge; Judge Mark Skinner of Chicago; Generals William T. Sherman, Alpheus S. Williams of Michigan, Henry M. Whittelsey of the Freedman's Bureau, and Benjamin F. Butler of Lowell, Mass.; Edward J. Phelps (later commissioned by Cleveland as Minister to England), James M. Ashley of Ohio, James H. Saville and ex-Governor John Wolcott Stewart of Vermont.
In these gatherings were narrated many anecdotes of men and stories of events in Washington. One of these events occurred in the Senate soon after Lincoln had issued his first call for volunteers. A Senator was speaking. His speech was irritating to Unionists and while speaking Edward D. Baker, Senator from Oregon, entered. Baker, a very handsome man, was in the full uniform of a Colonel of the Federal Army and had come to bid farewell to his fellow Senators ere leaving for the field. At the close of the speech, Baker arose, made an impetuous reply, and left the Senate Chamber forever. Not long after he fell while leading his regiment at Ball's Bluff.
One of the anecdotes was the following: After the war an elderly man on horseback was observed on a summer afternoon approaching Arlington. In front of the mansion he dismounted. He did not enter the house but stood for several minutes gazing across the Potomac at the City of Washington. His hands were clasped and he was in a deep revery. Presently he turned and gazed steadily at the mansion and its surroundings. Then remounting his horse he slowly retraced his course with bowed head. Two gentlemen standing not far from the road and engaged I conversation had witnessed his approach and when he re-passed them they recognized the lone horseman as the Great Commander of the Southern Army, Robert E. Lee! It was his farewell to Arlington, unheralded and without ostentation.
One evening in the lobby of the Ebbitt House a new comer passed the group and went to the desk. He wore a broad brim hat but his soldierly bearing could not be disguised by the plain dress with not a vestige of uniform. Struck by his strong face and modest demeanor, Mr. Stuart inquired who this man was. "That is General George H. Thomas", was the reply. It was a great satisfaction to Mr. Stuart catching this glimpse of the Hero of Chickamauga for whom he had the greatest admiration.
Despite his friendship with Sherman and his unqualified recognition of Grant's generalship, there were in Thomas qualities that commanded his attention more deeply. He compared him with Lee. Both these sons of Virginia at the outbreak of the Rebellion were placed alike. Lee disregarded his West Point promise to defend the Union. Thomas on the other hand stood true to that promise. AT the end of the war Lee was the recipient of the plaudits of his friends and neighbors while for Thomas there was coldness and aversion in the Old Dominion.
General Williams related to the group the doings prior to the battle of Chancellorsville. All the morning they could hear far beyond the dense woodland the rumble of wagons and it made them uneasy. He went to Hooker to urge that preparation be made against an attack, but Hooker seemed strangely dull and listless answering only in monosyllables. Unable to overcome his apprehensions he went again and found Hooker had not stirred from the attitude in which he had seen him last. He seemed to be in a thoroughly dazed condition from which it was impossible to rouse him to attention. Probably Hooker was suffering from the concussion of the shell which struck the porch and had he been in normal condition would have interrupted this movement of "Stonewall" Jackson. The death of Jackson that night very possibly changed the fortunes of the Confederacy for if he had lived to fight at Gettysburg the Northern Army might have been repulsed.
General Whittelsey once read aloud a few verses which had come to him in routine. They were found under the pillow of a soldier who was lying dead in a hospital near Port Royal, South Carolina. They deeply impressed the company and the General gave the copy to Mr. Stuart, who thereafter kept it in his little Greek Testament. They were as follows:
I lay me down to sleep
With little thought or care
Whether my waking find
Me here or there.
A bowing burdened head
That only asks to rest
A loving breast.
My good right hand forgets
Its cunning now -
To march the weary march
I know not how.
I am not eager, bold,
Nor strong, all that is past.
I am ready not to do
At last, at last.
My half day's work is done,
And this is all my part;
I give a patient God
My patient heart.
And grasp His banner still
Though all its blue be dim;
These stripes - no less than stars
Lead after Him.
Mr. Stuart's trips to Washington were frequent and his sojourns were often protracted and he used from time to time, when leisure granted, visit the galleries of the Senate and House and listen to the proceedings. He was enabled thereby to form his own estimate of the various members, an estimate which did not always correspond with the Public Press estimate. He rated Senator Carpenter of Wisconsin as the most brilliant of the Senators and the sly humor which Carpenter directed upon the labored flights of Charles Sumner - humor entirely lost by Sumner - caused Mr. Stuart great amusement. Another whom he rated as an eminently practical legislator was Senator Hitchcock of Nebraska, the father of the "Tree Claim Homestead Act". Another rated highly was a Southerner, James E. Bailey of Tennessee, and the same may be said of the two Senators from Nevada, John P. Jones and William M. Stewart, particularly the latter with the breezy manner of the pioneer pervading all his acts.
In the House he reviewed many of the eminent ability, especially Thaddeus Stevens, Ashley of Ohio, and Garfield. It is recalled that in 1885 he referred to Steven B. Elkins, then a Territorial Delegate, in terms of commendation and stated that he possessed a very high order of ability. It was a class re-union address delivered by Elkins at the Missouri College where Elkins graduated that drew forth Mr. Stuart's approval years before the former came into the U.S. Senate, in which his influence has been potent.
Although he mingled with men of public station during a long period of years, he himself had a disinclination for office. He took an active interest when a principle was being considered by the voters, but not with a view of recognition of these efforts. In one of the National Campaigns he was very efficient and at its close Governor Morgan, the Republican Campaign Manager, sent for him and asked him what office he expected and was astonished when Mr. Stuart quietly replied, "I expect none whatever".
His tastes were scholarly. He kept up his reading in Greek and Latin throughout his life and not a day passed that he did not read a chapter in the pocket Greek Testament, which he carried with him everywhere, as the following anecdote confirms:
Augustus D. Shepard, Esq., an official of a Bank Note Company located in New York, relates that once in Washington finding it of importance to consult with Mr. Stuart upon a matter affecting the mutual interests of the various Bank Note Companies under the U.S. Treasury regulations, late one hot Saturday night sought that gentleman at the Arlington, found him still sitting under the gas-light engaged in reading, although in robe du nuit, while the breeze from the window played with his waving silver hair. The matter discussed required but a few moments. Mr. Shepard when leaving expressed his regret for disturbing Mr. Stuart at such an hour. Mr. Stuart, with a twinkle in his eye, asked: "How is it, Mr. Shepard, that you can depart from your rule not to deal with business matters on the Sabbath?" "Oh!" rejoined Mr. Shepard, "It is still ten minutes to midnight". "But", he added, "let me ask with what absorbing book you are closing the week"? And, upon an assenting motion from Sr. Stuart, lifted the book to find it was the little Greek Testament. Mr. Stuart's eyes twinkled still brighter as he said, "Shepard, I do not find any men who need to read the Testament more than Bank Note people"!
He studied Bimetalism deeply and it had in him an ardent believer. In one of the summaries of his reading on the use of gold and silver as money, written in 1837, occurs the phrase, "Sixteen to One". Apparently the proportion was not unknown to people discussing Free Coinage sixty years before the Silver Campaign of 1896!
His lectures and occasional essays were models of clearness. One of these essays, "The Soul", was given
After his death to a friend, who read it and remarked, "If I could count on hearing such a sermon as that I would go to church every Sunday".
His wide range of reading, not alone in English, but also in French, which he read with ease, kept him fully informed to the developments of Science and the theories of its exponents. Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace in Malaysia, Henry Walker Bates on the Amazon, Huxley, Tyndall and Herbert Spencer in their respective fields received careful attention. Layard at Nineveh and the Rawlinsons in Babylonia; writers on electricity, astronomy and chemistry - all these were reviewed with thoroughness. In his latest days he came to the conclusion that the Darwinian Theory of Evolution was not established. He seemed more disposed to accept the Theory of Design so far as the Animal Kingdom was concerned. This conclusion in nowise interfered with his admiration as a minute observer and the leading books of Darwin were in his library. Many times did he read the "Voyage of a Naturalist in H.M.S. Beagle."
In spite of the fascination with which Science appealed to him, he insisted that the Classics, both Ancient and Modern, ought not to be neglected and that broad scholarship could not be acquired by the mere perusal of works upon Science.
His inclination was for the chair of the scholar, there to meditate the themes appealing to the philosophers. He had firmness to resist the call of this pleasing avocation and subordinate it to the duties of his chosen vocation for which he had great capacity. In temperaments like this, where on equal balance poise the scales of scholarship and administrative ability, occur display of moods beyond those of the ordinary individual. Such combination of intelligence and executive power is marked ever by moods and these varying moods invested Mr. Stuart's personality with a charm which, although perceived by all, nevertheless baffled analysis. He would have adorned the position of college president.
His sense of humor was keen and he could take a facetious remark as well as utter one. Joseph H. Choate came up one day during a recess in court and observed, "I have always wondered whether your full name is Homer Hesiod Stuart or Homer Herodotus Stuart". This whimsicality appealed to Mr. Stuart and he joined in the general mirth, which the sally provoked. Once a clergyman after conversing with him finally asked, "What is your business"? Mr. Stuart's eyes twinkled, as he regarded the inquisitive dominie, and in a spirit of mischief he replied, "I am engaged in printing". He was then president of a Bank Note Company, so that this was a true answer to the question as put. Had it been, "What is your profession"? - and doubtless "profession" and not "business" was the word intended - his answer would have been different. Another time while crossing the office of the Arlington Hotel at Washington, a passing individual, whom he did not know, halted and said, "How are you, Judge"? Whereupon Mr. Stuart calmly replied, "I am neither a Judge nor a Colonel", and moved on. A household bill written in an illegible hand came in from A. T. Stewart's dry goods establishment. Unable to decipher the hieroglyphics, he returned it, first pencilling across the face, "This bill seems to charge me with "one bottle of rum and parts of several others."
The Village Literary Union scheduled him for a lecture and he chose as his topic, "What of the Workingman"? Ex-Governor John A. King presided. The audience was dignified. Everything boded an attentive group of listeners. The lecture was proceeding smoothly when an utterance tinged with an inimitable Milesian brogue was heard in one of the front rows. "Sound Mor-rality"! Directing his eyes to the speaker Mr. Stuart recognized Father Farley, the Catholic priest, and saw moreover that he was uttering this audible allocution in sincerity. Continuing the lecture, these "Sound-Mor-ralities" came at intervals but grasping the humor of the situation he kept on to the close.
The lecture was not intended to have a humorous flavor. There was no doubt however that "Sound Mor-rality" imparted to it such a flavor that Mr. Stuart and his friends never could recall that evening without "inextinguishable laughter".
It appeared that the Reverend Father, noticing the title of the lecture, apprehended that its sentiments might reflect upon members of his flock. So he hied himself to the hall prepared for combat and the great relief at the sentiments which fell upon his ears led him then and there to evince his approval of their "Sound-Mor-rality".
His country place was a Mecca for friends and a never ceasing delight to him. One season he planted a few acres in grain for the sole purpose of reaping it by Virginian precepts. He watched its daily growth till the wheat ripened and then had a man cut it with a sickle, binding the sheaves as he went along. It was indeed picturesque - idyllic - but before the reaper finished his task a great proportion of the kernels shelled out, leaving little to carry to the quaint old grist mill at the foot of the millpond. A flock of ducks waddled out from the barnyard to the stubble and quacked gleefully for days thereafter gleaning in this latter day field of Boaz. The whole performance was amusing to Mr. Stuart and to his friends, but was beyond the comprehension of the hard-headed farmers of the vicinage, who simply could not understand such farming.
A pleasant reminiscence is the recollection of Mr. Stuart seated in a Windsor chair on the piazza of his country residence after supper one evening, calmly smoking a long reed-stemmed Indian pipe, while a tame crow perched on his shoulder was grabbling to him in a low confidential tone, once in a while gently tweaking his ear or reaching down to pull the pencil from his coat pocket. Finally Mr. Stuart stroked the bird's glossy feathers and said "Goodnight Dick. Go to bed". Whereupon with a final croak and giving a flirt to his plumage the bird flew to a pine tree for the night.
On the place grew a hundred cherry trees or more, and one Fourth of July invitations were sent to all the children of the neighborhood to attend a "Cherry Party". When assembled he selected an old "Ox Heart" growing where it interfered with the carriage-way, and directed that it be felled. The excitement and delight of the little ones was intense as the tree and its beautiful burden of fruit slowly toppled over and with shouts they scrambled through the branches till not a cherry remained.
He was very kind to little children. The Bank Note Company of which he was president, was located in Greenwich Street, and the engineer in the basement one sultry afternoon had trouble with the children who teased him by dropping things through the grating. Mr. Stuart stepped out, assembled the little ones, and explained that he felt sure they did not really intend to be annoying. Then he closed by telling them to go to the candy store down on Liberty Street, where he sent a clerk to order ice cream. With enthusiastic cries they rushed away and presently could be seen seated on doorsteps, each child occupied with a cone of ice cream resting on brown paper, They never troubled the engineer after that request of Mr. Stuart.
He felt sympathy for young men who aimed at professional careers, and in quiet ways he aided by securing them positions in the Bank Note Company, while they pursued their studies out of hours. Mindful of the earlier years of his own professional life, he tried always to distribute the legal work of the company so that a share of it would reach the struggling practitioner - "giving him a chance". The invisible barrier said to stand between generations seemed in his case to have been removed and the distinction which difference of age usually interposes between individuals was scarcely perceptible in his intercourse with the younger generation.
Mr. Stuart was regular in his church attendance. He attended the Congregational Church known as the Broadway Tabernacle presided over by Rev. Dr. Thompson and subsequently by the learned Rev. Dr. Roswell D. Hitchcock. After the latter withdrew to become president of Union Theological Seminary, Mr. Stuart attended the Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue and 37th Street for many years during the pastorates of Rev. Drs. J.O. Murray and Llewellyn D. Bevan. With the latter his friendship was strong. He admired his scholarly mind, the eloquence of his sermons and the untiring devotion that he gave to the church and regretted his return to England. When absent from New York he attended whatever church proved convenient irrespective of denomination.
Another characteristic was the purity of his language. He did not profane expressions and this is the more notable as his natural temper was hasty. Nor had he any tolerance for low anecdotes. He was charitable in his judgements and if he could find no good to speak of a man, would pass the matter in silence. He disliked the term "Nigger" and its employment as a term of reproach by white people he regarded recoiling on themselves, rather than on the colored brother at whom it was directed.
In the country the family went, storm or shine, to the village church. Returning home after the service Mr. Stuart would start early in the afternoon for the Sunday walk through the woods with his family and quite likely several of his children's little friends would come also. These were delightful expeditions whether in winter or summer. Nothing was without interest to him on these rambles.
In spring time and summer took place those thrilling navigations of the leaky old flat-bottomed skiff on the mill-pond across the field of water lilies at its upper end to the impassable jungle where the red-winged blackbirds chattered at the intruders.
In the beautiful October afternoons came those strolls through the fields. Pausing by the tall chestnut standing on the selvage of the woodland and taking off his coat he would pick out a burr cluster and throw at it a stout stick with a whirling motion that deftly rapped the limb in passing and drove a shower of nuts from the gaping burrs.
In the winter the explorations led into the frozen swamps inaccessible at other seasons. Their secrets were exposed. At a pool covered with ice, clear as a window pane, he would look through and call attention to the activities in that quiet spot. The dace darting through and fro when the shadow fell across their ken. The caddice larvae dragging behind them their "huts" built of bits of wood or of tiny particles of quartz - in short the varied life fulfilling its destiny beneath the shelter of this icy roof oblivious of the wintry rigor above. Sometimes a muskrat house was reconnoitered and a few thumps on the top of this would send its denizens scurrying along their water paths beneath the ice for refuge elsewhere. Once these evicted ones were avenged when their disturber slipped through an air hole and had a cold bath. How he laughed as he extricated himself with glowing face and retreated to build a rousing fire on terra firma.
He possessed a most varied, comprehensive store of information, but in utilizing it he never made a pedantic display. His speech was lucid, whether addressed to a companion or to an assemblage. Indeed and indeed was his "summing up" at the end of a trial a pleasure to the auditors! The clear, flexible tones. The graceful opening. The cogent reasoning, lightened with unexpected flashes of humor. Ordinarily thirty or forty minutes sufficed for his argument even though the trial had lasted several days. In that interval he laid before the jurymen his client's cause, holding their attention and winning their verdict. Conversant by thoroughness of preparation with every detail of his cause, wasting no time on non-essentials, he riveted the attention of court and jury. Moreover, he refused to undertake an action when he deemed the client was not morally in the right.
He possessed foremost the ability as a lawyer but his efforts as a peacemaker often cut short a promising action, for he would bring the opposing sides together and a settlement would result. It was reported that one of his clients, an exceedingly rich man, sent him instructions to draft a will which Mr. Stuart perceived would disinherit a daughter. He summoned the client and told him bluntly he would not draw such an unrighteous will. The client went off and in a fury told several of his friends. The rebuke, however, had not been thrown away. After the man's death it was found he had not disinherited.
With his brothers at the bar his intercourse was marked by dignity and good feeling. If, however, his opponent grew overbearing, Mr. Stuart was quite capable of giving a hint tinged with irony that would bring him within bounds at once.
Charles O'Conor's capabilities as a lawyer were rated as extraordinary by Mr. Stuart. Mr. O'Conor told him that once he dropped all work for four months and without referring to a book planned an intricate will for a client. During that time his thoughts were concentrated upon his subject. When satisfied he wrote out the document. As an instance of O'Conor's keen mind he mentioned O'Conor's argument in the noted case of Manice vs. Manice in the Court of Appeals. He was one day reading a legal opinion of one of the judges with whom O'Conor was unfriendly and at the end was written (the book belonging in O'Conor's library) in the handwriting of O'Conor. "The reasoning would support the converse." The two would often drift away from legal matters and discuss topics relating to theories of government, religion, &c.
One of these conversations turned upon Papal Infallibility. Mr. Stuart propounded the following query, substantially as follows: "Mr. O'Conor, you are a lawyer and represent one side of an action. Your opponent is likewise a lawyer and represents the other side of the action. Neither of you agree and the cause is tried before another lawyer, namely a judge sitting at Special Term. He decides in your favor. Your adversary appeals to the General Term composed of three more lawyers. They divide and two of them unite in an opinion reversing the decision of the judge at Special Term while the third General Term judge dissents and delivers an opinion sustaining your judgment. From the entry of the General Term judgment of reversal you appeal to the Court of Appeals and there again the seven judges stand four to three in favor of reversing the General Term and sustaining the Special Term. Your opponent petitions for a re-argument. Assume as an extreme instance that the petition is granted and the Court of Appeals on the re-argument changes its position and stands four to three in favor of sustaining the General Term. Now if the eleven judges, men of profound reasoning powers, who passed upon the question at issue were so perplexed and shifted their position how can you ascribe infallibility of judgment to one man?"
Mr. O'Conor hesitated some time and finally replied, "When I am sick I call in a doctor and take his advice".
A trait that impressed Mr. Stuart was the deep sense of obligation O'Conor manifested when a favor had been extended. He never forgot a favor. Mr. Stuart heard casually through an acquaintance that a gentleman named Lamberton living in 1860 near Pensacola had been of service to O'Conor. Lamberton was an outspoken Unionist and upon the secession of Florida was mobbed and driven away, losing all his property. O'Conor, however, considered that the favor had not been paid and upon the death of Lamberton he invited the latter's son to study law in his office and showed real interest in the young man. Many times he had him come to Nantucket to visit him and finally bequeathed to him a valuable law library containing all the reports from the earliest date in New York State down to the period of Mr. O'Conor's retirement to Nantucket.
O'Conor's headquarters were on the top story of Brown Brothers' Building in Wall Street and one could see him seated in an armchair at the end of the corridor, eyes shut, motionless, apparently wrapped in slumber. Deceptive pose! He was thinking - thinking. His name did not appear on the Brown Building office directory for he hated to be bothered with clients. His nature was a strange compound. His intensity of conviction as to the law in a case wherein his interest was aroused was so great that he could not yield his opinion. His argumentative processes proceeded upon rectilinear lines that were never bent by what (for want of a better term) we may denominate human refraction. Too proud to allow for this refraction, where these lines encountered the atmosphere of inferior reasoners, he sometimes failed while the lines of his more wily antagonists centered effectively at a lower plane. Herein the worldly wisdom of David Dudley Field surpassed him in Mr. Stuart's opinion and the latter spoke on this point from an acquaintance of many years with both Field and O'Conor.
The judges of the New York City Courts aroused little interest in his mind. There was a feeling that their task was easy - merely making choice of the arguments that represented the days of thought and research of the advocates. Then again, when he came back to the bar, after nearly twenty years, with the exception of his old friend, Charles P. Daly, Judge of the Common Pleas, there was scarcely a judge of the Ante-bellum era on the bench. Toward the Court of Appeals he felt very differently for he regarded its personnel during the period 1879 to 1885 as equal to the Supreme Court at Washington.
As remarked before, he had the highest ability for conducting litigation, but he was called, from the bar, as so many lawyers are, into the management of corporations and in the 60's became president of the Continental Bank Note Company.
Upon taking the presidency of this corporation he proceeded with the thoroughness, which was a characteristic of his nature, to acquaint himself with every detail of its highly technical business. The business was about as different from the legal work to which he had been accustomed as could be imagined. But its difficulties did not daunt him and as steadily as possible he systematized the affairs of the company. Before a great while it was possible for him on sitting down at his desk in the morning to tell immediately just what the condition had been at the close of the previous day. Schedules showed the operations proceeding in each room of the main building, as well as those in buildings located elsewhere. These schedules gave the name and residence of every individual in these rooms whether superintendent or humble errand boy. Moreover he made it known that he was accessible to each and all and whenever any employee came to him he listened carefully. This course prevented misunderstandings and the concern was usually free from labor difficulties. Once or twice during business depression wages and salaries were reduced, but every employee knew that Mr. Stuart's salary had been reduced at his own instance in the same percentage. This open-handed treatment rendered them thoroughly loyal and it was very seldom that he had trouble with his employees.
The period fell in that extravagant era which marked the Civil War and on of the first things he did was to ascertain the exact cost to the corporation of each class of work. To accomplish this it was necessary to examine groups of computations furnished by engravers, platemen, &c. All these were carefully verified by him and, when their accuracy was established beyond a doubt, were tabulated. With these expense factors ascertained, the corporation relied no longer on the earlier hap-hazard methods but knew exactly what it was doing when a bid was offered for work. Sometimes, of course, it failed to be a successful bidder but one could venture to guess the successful rival would find meagre profit on the transaction.
The bookkeeping was an improvement over the methods then too generally prevalent and it was possible for the directors at their meetings to have immediate answer to any questions they might ask while figuring on some prospective bid. This was indeed essential for the corporation was carrying out contracts of great moment where the variation of a cent might represent serious loss. In those days the currency of the United States was not engraved and printed entirely at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The five-dollar bills and postage stamps for instance were engraved and printed by the Continental Bank Note Company in New York City under the supervision of inspectors sent from Washington. The regulations imposed were of the most rigid nature. Every sheet of paper had to be accounted for as well as every plate. It was a most interesting site to watch the operations and view the blank sheet slide into place, the plate descend and rise instantly revealing four fresh "Vs" on the sheet which then passed to a neighboring press, to receive the imprint of the reverse. The ink used was most carefully selected and down in the basement was an "ink grinder" in which these peculiar gummy inks, red, blue, green, yellow and black, then used in this sort of work, were being treated. Mr. Stuart noted how closely these inks resembled paint and gave directions to have the residue, which was scraped from the plates while in operation, turned each day into a cask. In the course of time this was filled with a blend of all the colors used in printing the output of the establishment. The cask was then sent to the country and its entire contents used in painting the barn. The effect was surprising and exceedingly pleasant to the eye and the painting lasted over thirty years.
A faculty of aid to him in the supervision of the Bank Note Company's operations lay in a peculiarity of eyesight. From the age of eighteen he was dependent upon spectacles, but when he read, or examined objects at close range, he would push the glasses above his eyebrows and hold the book or other object about four inches from his eyes. He would do this in light that for most people was too dim for distinct vision. Per contra he could turn his gaze directly at the sun without especial discomfort. Sometimes he would take an engraved bond or certificate of stock or a United States bill and after a moment's scrutiny tell the name of the man who had engraved the plate. Yet his eyes, except while he was engaged in this examination had no marked appearance of near-sightedness. It was doubtless due to this critical faculty supplemented by his natural artistic discrimination in selecting the subjects that the steel engraved vignettes prepared for the Continental Bank Note Company were brought to so high a standard of beauty and appropriateness that no advance has been made since that time. The so-called "Process Work" of the present day, by virtue of cheapness and rapidity of production has superseded to a great extent the laborious efforts of the steel engraver.
Among the artists employed to furnish subjects for the vignettes was the talented Felix O. C. Darley and many vignettes reproducing his designs are in use to-day on engraved securities, and these Darley designs in artistic suitableness have seldom been approached and have never been excelled. Contracts were performed for the United States government; for Japan and other countries, besides printing and engraving securities for many railroads. The company's dividends to its shareholders were very satisfactory and the number of employees ran up into the hundreds.
The effect of this careful supervision of affairs was apparent on his retirement in the form of a large surplus accumulated by the company during his regime.
The engraving work executed by the Continental Bank Note Company for Japan resulted from his acquaintance with the Japanese Embassy, which visited Washington in 1870. He met Count Jushie Hirobumi Ito there and enjoyed a very pleasant intercourse with him and other members of this Embassy. It was strongly urged that Mr. Stuart and his wife should come to Japan and make a visit, but Mr. Stuart, who was not a good traveler by sea, could not bring himself to undertake the long voyage across the Pacific Ocean. These pleasant relations with the Japanese of high rank continued for years and many of them were welcome visitors at his home. All were polished, courteous gentlemen, and some, for instance, Sinichiro Kurino, the Minister at St. Petersburg, Russia, (at the outbreak of the late war between Japan and Russia), and Marquis Ito whose assassination in Korea has lately shocked the world, have written their names on History's Tablet.
In 1879 he withdrew from the Bank Note Company to resume the practice of hi profession and was engrossed therein when suddenly the summons came for him to rest from his earthly tasks.
On the morning of October 5, 1885, he read awhile after breakfast n the little Greek Testament and placing the marker closed it - for the last time. Then he went down town and attended the opening Fall Session of the Supreme Court. After finishing his duties there he walked to his office, just opposite the old Emerson office where half a century earlier he first looked out upon Wall Street. It is recalled that he gazed some time in silence across the street at the old building. Then saying he felt weary and would return home, he started to depart and expired before reaching the sidewalk. Looking at the Testament that evening it was seen he had been reading the Twelfth Chapter of St. Luke. Years have rolled away, but the marker is still kept where this gifted and sincere man, this "loved and loving husband, father, friend", left it on that bright October morn.
The letters which follow are selected from many referring to Mr. Stuart and reveal the impression he made upon these friends:
Arnoux, Ritch & Woodford
18 Wall Street,
New York, 6th October, 1885
Dear Stuart - I was very deeply shocked this morning on learning that your father was no more. Only yesterday, I looked at him again and again and thought how sturdy he seemed, when I saw him in court.
Be assured you have my heartiest sympathy in this hour of your sorrow.
BRADFORD W. HITCHCOCK.
Rooms 10, 11 and 12, Law offices of
Glover Building James A. Saville
1419 F St., N.W. Frederick A. Starring
Washington, D.C., Oct. 10th, 1885
Inglis Stuart, Esq.,
63 Wall St., N.Y.
Mr. Dear Inglis - Your favor of 8th inst. came this morning. I saw the notice of your father's death in The Tribune and we were shocked beyond measure. It was so sudden, and he seemed in such excellent health and buoyant spirits only three days before when I saw him. Will you kindly convey your mother, brother,and sisters my sincere and heartfelt sympathy as well as that of my wife for your bereavement. You can well understand how keenly we feel for you, as you know we have always held him in the highest esteem. I do not think the death of anyone out of our own immediate family would have touched us so nearly. My wife wants his picture. Can you not procure and send me a good one?
In the midst of our grief we have one consolation. He was a man of noble qualities of head and heart, whom all respected and those admired most who knew him best. He may not have left his children a fortune in mere worldly goods, but in his noble face and honorable career he has bequeathed to them a source of just pride which wealth could not buy or mere worldly success attain. May his memory ever prove a guiding star to the feet of his children.
Remember us to your family and believe us always.
Your true friends,
JAMES H. & SUSAN SAVILLE.
Oct. 11, 1885.
Dear Inglis - The sad news of your father's death reached me yesterday, and I hasten to express my sympathy with your affliction. The suddenness of the blow must have made the bereavement all the greater, and I know you feel the irreparable loss deeply.
I shall always remember your father as a man of extraordinary presence, one of the finest looking men I have ever seen, my beau-ideal of the true Roman Senator.
I can remember him from my earliest childhood in Long Island. Remember me to Mrs. Stuart and your brother and sisters, and believe me, for weal, for woe, your friend.
Middlebury, Vermont, 13th October 1885.
My Dear Cousin Margaret - I was greatly shocked at the sudden notice of Homer's death and regretted that a chapter of accidents prevented my attendance at the funeral.
I can hardly realize that Homer is dead. He was always to me the personification of manly vigor physical and mental. Such from my earliest childhood was my impression of him. He was never sick, never weak. Age did not seem to quench the fire of youth in him. His white hair fringed a face which bloomed without a wrinkle with the freshness of early prime. He never seemed old to me and in his presence I forgot the lapse of time, he was so bright and vivacious and looked so like a youth prematurely grey. What a kingly presence was his! What a winning, sensitive, generous, loyal nature he had! We who knew him best knew all this and more. He was the soul of manly honor. He was incapable of falsehood and faithlessness. He had royal endowment. Farewell my dear lost elder brother. I shall cherish early tender memories of our brotherly intercourse in these later years with never an unkind word or thought between us. I mourn with you my dear cousin and with yours. May our Heavenly Father comfort and help us all.
Your affectionate cousin,
JOHN W. STEWART
Brick Church Parsonage,
14 East 37th Street, New York.
Dear Mrs. Stuart - I have to thank you very sincerely for your husband's "Occasional Papers". I have read them with the greatest interest. They bear, as I expected, the impress of a strong, clear, vigorous mind. But what surprises me in them is the imaginative power which gleams out everywhere in the most striking way. The contrast between the two pictures of Jacob and Saul is most remarkable in this respect.
There is a fine mingling of restraint and confidence in the paper on The Soul - an undertone of unstated argument which makes it very fascinating - charming is too light a word. Indeed I hardly know how to describe the peculiar effect of personality - distinct, well-poised, intensely meditative - which these papers have made upon me.
You have given me a privilege which makes me feel again and again how much cause I have to regret the loss of that yet greater privilege of personal intercourse with so serene and noble a mind.
Very faithfully yours,
Nov. 4, 1885. HENRY J. VAN DYKE, JR.
My Dear Mrs. Stuart - Will you be so good as to ascribe my long delayed latter to anything rather than want of sympathy with you in your sorrow. When I first saw the notice of the death of Mr. Stuart I was absent at the meeting of Presbytery, and returned as soon as possible and made arrangements to present my sympathy in person. On looking over the paper I found that you had all gone to Berlin, Conn. Since that time I have been to New York but once - and then on business - returning as soon as it was over to meet an engagement in Jamaica.
But, after all, I feel that I have been neglectful and I am reproached by my seeming want of feeling. To both if us, Mrs. Lampman and myself, the death of Mr. Stuart was a great shock and a great sorrow. We loved him - and who could help loving him? To me he was especially congenial. I never was weary of watching his peculiar mental processes. He was a born philosopher - never contenting himself with the surface of things, but always unwrapping until he approached their center of beginning. Here in this very room where I am writing I remember a long talk of his on the condition of the Immortals. He had dropped in casually, and I had urged him to dine, and after dinner he climbed up to any study and there through the curling smoke discoursed of those things of which Plato and Socrates were wont to talk, and I could not help thinking that I had with me one of the philosophers of old - inspired by the later Christian Revolution. And I remember his face almost as well as his mind. I recall how the eyes began to narrow and the smile creep along the lips long before his laughter openly began. Indeed he was to me a delightful friend and I miss him and sorrow for myself over my individual loss. How great your sorrow must be I can partially realize.
But to have known so rare a man intimately, to have been dearly loved by him, is a memory worth having and is some compensation for your loss. If the pain is sharper the memory is dearer.
Will you accept at this late day the assurances of my sympathy and regard that I do not know well how to express. For your comfort, I can only refer you to that deep conviction of an immortal life which he cherished and where I am certain you will meet him.
Our Dear Cousin Maggie - Our hearts are with you and your stricken circle in your great bereavement. We esteemed and loved Mr. Stuart as a friend and as a man. He had great gifts, and his conversation was always most pleasing and instructive. How many good talks we have had with him. How I have loved to draw him out and get at the large treasury of his information and his tho'ts. How varied his acquirements and how easily and genially he was wont to express himself to friend as he sat in his easy chair and talked. I think he had a very capacious mind and very active and open to all things on all sides. I sincerely loved him and have grateful recollections of his many kindnesses to me personally. The days we have spent so pleasantly in your charming family often come up in review, and the near friendship we have shared with all you has been one of the threads of gold running thro our life since Emily first introduced me to you as her most cherished friend.
Let us think that these joys of affectionate and intimate intercourse are never to cease and that on the other side they will be renewed and exalted. I know Mr. Stuart tho't much on the great themes, and I think his departure in its suddenness was an enviable one for which I trust he was ready, as the last verses he read were timely and preparative. Don't try to feel - the shock which takes away the keenness of sorrow has an errand of mercy. The God of peace be with you all.
10 Benton Avenue,
Middletown, Orange Co., N.Y.
Sept. 8, 1886.
Inglis Stuart, Esq.:
My Good, Young Friend - "Much thanks" for your letter of the 6th instant. I had forgotten about the balance in my favor in the New Amsterdam Bank; and, but for your kindness, should not have know of it. $69 don't grow on every bush, now-a-days; and I was glad to get this addition to my slim resources. It is a great thing to have friends around.
Yes, I have had a lovely summer; everything pleasant, and the feathered biped, with his quills, has hung pendulous and elevated.
The axle-trees of time have been lubricated with the perfumed oil of roses.
It is pleasant to think, as I often do, of your most excellent father; and his kindly ways and rich discourse. I have some letters from him and some pamphlets of his, that I prize among my treasures. He was a profound thinker.
I am, with repeated thanks,
LUTHER R. MARSH.
Sea-Lawn, (Wave Crest) Far Rockaway, L.I.
June 25, 1905.
Mr. Inglis Stuart,
69 Wall St., New York.
My Dear Mr. Stuart - The interesting Memoir of your father, contained in the "Stewart book" we have read with great pleasure. I am only sorry that my sister Mrs. Story could not have enjoyed it with us, but she is at Englewood and we are here.
Your good father was a noble man, with marked characteristics; his ability and culture made him a delightful friend. Often have I thought of him, and valued the friendship which it was my privilege to enjoy.
You may well have pride in the memory of such a father. Mrs. Brinckerhoff joins with me in love and kind remembrance to your mother.
With thanks for the book, now returned, I am,
ELBERT A. BRINCKERHOFF.
Association of the Bar,
42 West 44th St., New York City.
27th September, 1905.
Inglis Stuart, Esquire:
Dear Mr. Stuart - I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to read these pages in the life of Mr. Stuart, until which I had not been able to have in mind the general trend and experiences of one who has now passed from the constantly busy scenes from which Greater New York seems not likely to soon separate. Lake George, Ticonderoga, Lockport, Middlebury, Bennington, the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson, the anti-slavery agitations, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his brother William, the Wall Street office, Richmond of Virginia, and the many intermediate worthies and places linked and perpetuated so evidently by traits of true Scottish descent, to a lifetime resident of the Empire State which once included Vermont, and furnish an indelible seal of "Composite Remembrance".
It is not every time our privilege such as you have given, to take up one by one the interesting and applicable component features.
ABRAHAM V.W. VAN VECHTEN.
Washington, Nov. 23, 1908.
Mr. Inglis Stuart, Esq.,
New York City.
My Dear Inglis - I have to thank you for a copy of the new edition of "A Silver Gray's R. R. Reminiscences", which I have reread with sincere pleasure.
What a world of memories it recalls! Memories of the old days when your father and I were in close and frequent association and correspondence both as friends and professionally.
I suppose it is natural for old men, looking backward to the "Golden Days" of their active associations and friendships, to have an assured and confident conviction that the men they knew and loved then were somehow better, finer, cleaner, more superb than those of a later generation.
However this may be, I am quite sure that I am not influenced by any such prejudice when I recall Homer H. Stuart. He was enough older than I, perhaps, to have been my father, but I do not think of him as being so. To me he was always a wise friend with whom I talked and to whom I wrote as of my own generation.
Of all the men in my catalogue of friends and associates (and you know my position in public life made me intimate with most of the leading men since and including Mr. Lincoln), Home H. Stuart stands forth as peer of the best and greatest, in all the qualities that go to make the prince among men. His character and personality alone marked his high lineage more surely than all the Herald's Colleges on earth could have done.
I knew him in times of stress and storm; under conditions and circumstances that would have developed in most men ugly qualities, but I can truly say that in every situation he was always the man and gentleman; master of himself, and thus master of others. I recall him with the greatest affection and reverence, and in our home his name is a household word for all that constitutes the model of manhood and attractiveness. His children cannot revere his memory more than do mine.
Again thanking you for the pamphlet, as well as the portrait of your mother, believe me,
Your sincere friend,
JAMES H. SAVILLE.
NOTE - The letter which follows was written by one who had a prominent role in the annals of our political life. Through his clear-sightedness at a time when warring factions in the Republican party threatened its disruption it was saved by selecting Gen. James A. Garfield as its candidate for the Presidency.
On the first ballot in that memorable convention at Chicago in 1880 the chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation announced its fifty-eight votes almost equally divided between Grant and Blaine, and "one vote for James A. Garfield". That "one vote" came from the delegate sent by the Luzerne-Lackawanna Congressional District, William Alexander Montgomery Grier of Hazelton, Luzerne County. At intervals joined by another delegate, but usually entirely alone, during that protracted battle of the ballots Mr. Grier persistently adhered to his choice. At last he had the rare emotion of witnessing State delegation after State delegation rallying to Garfield!
It was a wonderful instance of how the unflinching steadfastness of one man prevailed, and finally ranged behind his standard the nearly eight hundred of those contending fellow delegates.
76 St. James Place
Brooklyn, Jan. 14, 1908.
Dear Mr. Stuart - I heartily thank you for the copy of "A Silver Gray's R. R. Reminiscences" just read, and am pleased that altho' we have met only casually, and at infrequent intervals, for many years past, you did not forget me in the distribution.
It is a unique and very interesting little brochure which I have enjoyed reading and shall carefully preserve.
I was a commuter on the Long Island R. R., the scene of these reminiscences, for several years in the early '80's, and it was during that time that I became acquainted with your father, not on the aforesaid R. R., for it was two to three decades earlier that he traveled it, but in the old building 63 Wall St. where we both, and you also, had our offices. As in our day a number of "good fellows" journeyed to and fro on the same trains, very pleasant friendships and enjoyable times resulted, so I can easily imagine the similar pleasures enjoyed by those "old timers" of the "50's". The leisurely pace at which in those days Long Island Railroad trains ran, compensated commuters for their shorter business hours by giving them longer time for the cultivation of friendships.
Your father and I exchanged salutations just a few moments before he passed so suddenly out of life. And then, just a few moments later, I was gazing on his silent form! Altho' nearly a quarter of a century has flown since that sad afternoon in October, 1885, I retain the most vivid remembrance of his striking personality. He was indeed a handsome man, in the best sense of that word, not alone because of his symmetrical figure, the beautifully moulded lines of his face, the clear complexion, but because a distinct impression was made of his kindness, benevolence, geniality, sincerity and mental vigor. Your reverence for his memory is charming. You can well felicitate yourself on such a parentage.
Yours very sincerely,
W .A. M. GRIER.
Inglis Stuart, Esq.,
163 Willis Ave. W.,
August 31, 1906.
My Dear Inglis - It gave me very great happiness to receive a copy of the Genealogy of your family, and especially to read the biography of your father. I can never think of him without emotion. Such a grand, noble, dignified yet kindly and benignant face and bearing! Power seemed to be the predominant characteristic. His head and shoulders were leonine, kingly. I was drawn toward him first by the attitude which he always assumed toward myself. I was but a youth when I first knew him, but he treated me as an equal and conversed with me as a companion on science, religion, philosophy and history until I was bewildered with his learning and his logic. He was most interesting in his conversations and I always loved to be with him. He has influenced my life and my thought. He paid me that most delicate of compliments, the putting of himself on my level and assuming that I was as learned as himself. In general society he took little pleasure. He loved rather to be in his own home, his study, and with his books. He was a grand character. I remember well his interest in Natural History.
Like all great characters, he was very simple in his tastes and modest in his demeanor. He valued the true rather than the false. I think he retired within himself and took his greatest happiness with his family, largely because he detested the shams and empty conventionalities of so-called Society.
Personally I owe him much. When he learned that I had decided to go to college, knowing that my father's circumstances would prevent him from helping me financially, your father, unsolicited, wrote me a confidential letter offering to lend me whatever money I should require for the four years' course, to be repaid in yearly instalments (sic) beginning three or four years after my graduation. I was greatly touched by this evidence of interest and affection and I availed myself of his kindness during the last two years of my college course. Several years later when I had repaid a part of my indebtedness, he wrote me to keep the balance still due, and put it in the bank for the benefit of the education of my son, Home Stuart Sayres.
I could recall many other things, incidents and memories, but I have said enough to show you how much I loved your father. Indeed, one of my boys is named for him, and my one girl, Margaret Stuart Sayres, is named after your dear mother.
WILLIAM S. SAYRES.
The above believed to be taken from Stuart, Homer. "The soul." New York, 1879.