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the point of his destination. On the first day of December, 1833, he embarked for Charleston, S. C., where he remained about two months, enjoying the hospitalities of that cultivated and high-mannered city. The 10th day of February, 1834, found him at Savannah. Here he had no sooner arrived, than he began to make inquiries about the early history of the town that lay about him, so large and populous, but yet in so much repose and rural beauty. He was reminded that it was just a hundred and one years since the first settlers landed, and the first Georgian city was laid out. February 10, 1733, is the date of the first letter which Oglethorpe, the founder of the new colony, wrote to the trustees in England. The answers that he received to his questions, and the further researches that he was led to make, awakened in his mind a great interest in the history of that remarkable man, who was certainly a nobler ækist than any that Mr. Grote has brought before us in his History of Greece, whether we consider the personage himself or his object. He was surprised to learn that no biography of him existed, and the thought occurred to him, that he would try to supply that deficiency by preparing “ an authentic and tolerably minute life" of one who had lived so long and so illustriously that even the planting of a great and free commonwealth was but a small part of his fame. After spending about three months here and in Augusta, appearing occasionally in the pulpit, he returned home, where he arrived on the last day of May. He found his health refreshed and somewhat invigorated by this excursion. But the effect was not so great or so lasting as had been hoped for. He still remained feeble, and on the following year he requested the aid of a colleague, in his ministerial charge. Mr. Nathaniel Hall was ordained as his assistant, July 16, 1835, the senior pastor being then sixty-seven years of age. Even this diminished care, however, proved to be too much for him, and he resigned wholly his pastoral office in the autumn of 1836, having sustained it precisely fortythree years. His valedictory sermon was preached October 23, 1836, and is among his published discourses. Both of these proceedings towards the large parish, in the midst of which he had in youth begun his sacred labors and con
tinued them till he was bent and whitened with age, were entirely spontaneous. They were suggested by his own mind, and carried through with a resolute purpose that had a great deal of affectionate opposition to overcome. “ This measure,” says Dr. Pierce, speaking of the application for a colleague, was wholly of his own choice; not a single member of the parish ever having even hinted the expediency or the desirableness of such a step. So also when he sought the dissolution of his pastoral connection, it was not only without the desire, but contrary to the remonstrance, of all who took an active part among his people.” The old and the young minister separated with mutual expressions of kindness and equal prayers of intercession for the congregation which one of them alone was hereafter to guide. On the next Lord's day, Rev. Mr. Hall preached his sermon of accession, which was also published.
In the summer of 1838, Dr. Harris and his wife transferred their church relation from the First Church in Dorchester to the First Church in Boston; and they remained in that connection till, one after the other, they were dismissed to the communion of the Church above. The past minister of that old congregation at that time cannot think it improper here to add one affectionate word in memorial of his respected parishioner. It has been often declared, that the most undesirable hearers are those who have ceased to preach, and the poorest parishioners are those who have just come down from the desk. After some considerable experience, he has never found it to be
He believes the assertion to be an injurious and unwarranted one. Certainly, Dr. Harris was a remarkable example of the contrary; being always encouraging and helpful to the pulpit under which he sat, and an excellent member of the society which he had often instructed and moved with his voice. After the resignation of his pastorate, he continued diligently occupied in study and in the various business of a studious man. He frequently preached, as circumstances invited him. He was busy where he could be of use. He rendered essential service to the libraries of the Massachusetts Historical Society and of Harvard University, -- to the first in arranging its
treasures, and to the last in increasing them, and in suggesting means of further improvement. His most considerable literary labor was the carrying out of the project which he had formed upon the Savannah River. In 1841 appeared his “ Biographical Memoirs of James Oglethorpe, Founder of the Colony of Georgia,” in one octavo volume. The expenses of the publication were defrayed for the most part by gentlemen belonging to that Commonwealth. It would have been strange if they had not felt a peculiar interest in such a work. They had reason to take pride in setting such a name as Oglethorpe’s at the head of their short annals and comparatively late beginning in the great brotherhood of American States. He was a soldier, a statesman, a scholar, and a philanthropist. He was the friend of Johnson, and is praised in the verses of Thomson and Pope. Hannah More called him “ the finest figure of a man she ever saw," when he was much above ninety years old, “ with his faculties as bright as ever”; and Edmund Burke told him “ that he looked upon him as a more extraordinary person than any he had ever read of; for he had absolutely called into existence the province of Georgia, and had lived to see it become an independent State.” He belonged to the seventeenth century, and served with Prince Eugene, first as his secretary and afterwards as his aide-de-camp, and yet called on John Adams a day or two after he arrived in London as Ambassador of the United States. Where shall we find more claims to distinction? This book, which ought to do much to spread and perpetuate a vivid image of him among the lovers of our national history, is written in a pure and simple manner, and has many pleasant anecdotes for the general reader.
The last work of Dr. Harris was now issued. His last sermon was about to be delivered. His old congregation at Dorchester heard him preach once more, and once only, on the anniversary of his ordination, October 31, 1841. Age seems to grow more attached to anniversaries as their rounds are coming to an end. He felt a wish to preach at Brookline for his friend Dr. Pierce, whose ordination sermon he had delivered just forty-five years before; and in this wish he was gratified. On that occasion he appeared
unusually well in the services of the desk, and seemed more likely to hold on for a few years longer than he had done for some time. But it was appointed to him to stop there. He was animated that day with new purposes of literary labor, as well as with an increase of spirits and strength. “At parting," writes Dr. Pierce," he expressed his intention of soon renewing his visit, to see if he could obtain aid in a History of Dorchester, which he was preparing for the press, agreeably to the solicitations of his former parishioners. He had singular qualifications, and possessed a great variety of documents, for such a work. But he has left it unfinished; and it is doubtful whether any survivor will be able to complete it according to his original plan.” On the Saturday night following, he was suddenly seized with severe pains in the chest, which became at once alarming. The disease was an inflammation of the lungs, that immediately prostrated him, and at length deprived him of the use of all his faculties. He lingered but a week, and then expired tranquilly early on Sunday morning, April 3, 1842, aged 73 years, 8 months, and 27 days. Some of his friends have expressed the thought that it was a merciful decree of the Divine Providence, in pity to his constitutional apprehensiveness and nervous excitability, thus to drop a veil over his consciousness, and shorten and darken for him the way of death. Doubtless it was merciful. It spared him a trial from which he might possibly have shrunk, as any one else might. But the most delicate natures are often made as calm and stout as the hardiest, when their need comes; and there is no reason to think, that, with all his manifold preparation for leaving this life, he would have been unsustained or found wanting. He was buried on the annual Fast-day, April 7. The domestic funeral service was performed at his house in Boston, by the minister of the First Church, and attended by a large company of those who were desirous of paying this mark of respect. A more public service took place at the meeting-house in Dorchester, in the afternoon. Though the weather was rainy, the church was crowded with hearers; and it was remarked that as deep an emotion pervaded the assembly as if the deceased had been taken away in the midst of
his ministerial life. The funeral sermon by his successor, affectionate and discriminating, was afterwards given to the public; and another, preached on the following Lord's day, in Boston, was also printed. A discourse by Dr. Pierce, delivered both at Brookline and Dorchester, was not yielded to the request of the society in the latter place that he would furnish a copy of it for publication. The body of Dr. Harris was laid in the cemetery of the town where he had been a religious teacher and comforter the greater part of his days. An obelisk of white marble, about seventeen feet high, is there erected to his memory.
The leading traits of his mind and character have already been incidentally traced in the preceding narative. Little, therefore, remains needful to be said on these points. He was a man of fervent, unaffected piety. In his theological opinions he belonged to the early liberal school. In his mode of presenting religious truth he was evangelical, in the truest sense of that term. His style of preaching, though not captivating, was earnest, tender, and instructive. In the early part of his ministry he was accustomed to exchange pulpit services, not only with all ministers of the Congregational denomination, but with some who belonged to other sects. Dr. Stillman and Dr. Baldwin, Baptist clergymen, were upon the list of these exchanges. He always lamented the divisions that afterwards arose and broke up this harmony. He refused to assume any party position in the Church Universal. He would not consent to derive his title from any other name than “that which is above every name.” He was unwilling that his church, so long as he had the superintendence over it, should be otherwise denominated. Certainly this repugnance to sectarianism was founded in the best feelings of brotherhood, and to some extent in a just perception of abstract truth. But after all, every man and every body of men may perhaps as well make up their mind to wear patiently such appellations as suit them the nearest, and others may find it convenient to bestow. Differences will have words to express and designate them, whether we choose the words or not, whether we like them or not. The churches of Dorchester and Brookline were assuredly not Catholic, but Protestant;