Among the ramblings of the
life-adventures of Henry A. Coolidge (born c.1822), can be found a terse
and sometimes painful remembrance of the author's days of youth in Cazenovia.
From 1848 to 1857 Coolidge was the editor of The Madison County Whig, the village's weekly newspaper, and he seems to have known everybody in town. Some of his memories are not at all flattering, but this is the stuff that history is made of! He went on to be edit the Litchfield Monitor (Illinois) and was the editor of the Mt. Olive Herald (Illinois) at the time he published this book. Many pages of items not related to Cazenovia are not copied here.
This book was printed "For Private Circulation Only" but an inscribed copy was given to the Cazenovia Public Library by the author.
(there are no page numbers in the original text but I have added sequential
sheet numbers to this section. There are 27 sheets. I have
made some notation within the text, such as obscure word definitions, expansion
of names, etc., which are presented in square [ ] brackets)
This text is not completely edited from the scan.
INASMUCH as in the rush to
get on in business pursuits, the better, deeper part of ones nature may
be denied aliment or gratification, it is a memorable thing to him, if
once in a strenuous life he can throw off care, and revisit far Cazenovia.
With deep, kind charm, that village occasionally recalls a distant truant
to live over, in winged hours, his vanished years when existence had the
wild freshness and dewy flavor of the morning time.
I had longed to yield to the allurements to go back. At last fortune and fate relented, and planned the surprise an opportunity. In idyllic summer days, and through the noble avenue of the hills and steeps of the "Southern Tier," I was permitted to reach the upheaved plain where Cazenovia sits in beauty on the margin of the highest lake whose waters pour northward. My days there were ilde, glad, occupied, thoughtful, careless, meditative, vacant, remembering ones. While vibrating between present observation and inevitable reminiscence, I was asked to mention in a shape for publication, my impressions of the village of which I had been a citizen, and the modern Cazenovia, trod by strangers. A compliance can have no grace or value, beyond fidelity to the impressions and associations of the moment. And this slender interest will be shared only by the few who, with me, long since furtively chuckled over the quite forgotten absurdities and impudence of the "Cazenovia Wax Works".
It is nearly forty years since, I, a hot-headed, penniless stripling, footsore and nearly spent with my dusty tramp, lounged, rather than walked, with a shadow a mile long over on the slope east of the Chittenango, into Cazenovia to seek a livelihood, a home and an education. I was of frontier stock, and familiar with the plow, the hoe, the ax and the logging fallow. Not above thrice, had I stepped <:2> within a private residence worth a thousand dollars. I never seen a carpeted floor, or a house light, save a cresset lamp or a tallow candle. Nature or necessity had given me a spirit to go at obstacles as a cannon ball rides the air at a fortress. A future was only as the downhill one finds in climbing a mountain. I had not the wisdom to despair of my purpose nor the time nor patience to count impediments. Disappointments did not signify. I seized their instruction and got an access of courage and persistence from obstacles. Through hopefulness, or conceit, or self- reliance or a habit of perseverance, I forgot to give up, and in my scheme such character was success.
From that evening, the past went out of my life, but some of its flavor remained. I had had a glimpse of a community not wholly bucolic. If no better or more useful than the one I had known, it seemed to have a far different aim. There appeared to be a more genial purpose, and a culture not reached by shelling corn for bread on the end of a shovel, by firelight. I disdained to be content with an education in the fingers alone, since to one thus taught a pickpocket's vocation might have a certain element of misdirected respectability. In my solo programme were many things to be preferred to gold. High thinking would compensate for toil and plain living and going on foot.
The following years, I took there my buffetings, trials, scourgings, teachings and self-disciplinings. I had need of them. To-day, a thousand miles from her borders, the recollection of her indifferent, or unfriendly, or, later, her partial countenance, awakens no unworthy feeling. I can not decide whether the more is due her favor, or her Spartan discipline. The town was a stern, just and helpful teacher, and gave me all a man should ask - an opportunity and fair play. Cazenovia tolerated no curled darlings. She trained her children as well by reproof, bitter at the time as the sarcasms of the Adversary when <:3> he would tempt the very elect, as by positive instruction. I had need of severe correctives. Dislike did me good. It was something, to be hated for positiveness of convictions and actions, and Cazenovia abounded in good haters - sturdy partisans of domineering temper, a sublime will, sleepless self-assertion, a full allowance of conceit, an ungrammatical directness of speech, and a decorous, unrelenting wrath, steady as a law of physical energy, which throve without nursing. But these men were not mean haters. They hated for the public welfare, and the health of their own finances.
Forgiveness was not in my list of easy virtues, but forbearance was, and I seemed callous through the patience of indifference. My sole reliance lay in a line of conduct that no personal malignity or detraction could assail to any purpose. It was believed I did not recognize the law of retaliation, but when friends demanded some word in self-defense, as my silence had been misjudged, there still lived a few who can remind themselves of the result, and the discovery that I was an excellent person to let alone. The Cazenovia seasoning process where it was "claw for claw," as Conan said to the Devil, did not kill me. I suspect its justice was apparent, and I underwent it quite gaily, though urtication [stinging like nettles] is not a thing to fall in love with. At least, I had the recompense of the wounded muscle whose bruise turns to a pearl, or the compensation of a riven mountain whose crevices are filled with precious ores. During those sixteen years, I fail to remember that the village furnished any jail an inmate. Our fire company - the Haugena - was called to no more than four or five fires, and at least two of these were out of the corporation.
Those Haugena days! John Hatch was chief engineer, Ped. Childs [Perry G. Childs Jr.] foreman, and then Denise Ledyard [Jonathan D. Ledyard Jr.], and when the company disbanded, Geo. Ledyard [George Ledyard] was chief officer. No man can be, from his transparent simplicity <:4> of character, harder to sketch than John Hatch. Quiet, capable, efficient, even in spirts and temper. and so free from salient human imperfections that his name was his best praise, and all were his friend, he still lives: hair white, shoulders drooping beneath his years. But no frost of age, no selfishness, no decay of hopes, and no morbid feeling of regret, has touched his cheerful kindness. My congratulations to you, John Hatch, that yours is the secret of growing old gracefully, and that, year by year, your life is more and more deeply drenched with the grace and tenderness of an unshamed manhood.
Ped. Childs [Perry G. Childs Jr.] went to California, almost an Argonaut. In succession, he has been miner, speculator, shipowner, clerk, and politician, with a mirage in his career when he believed in "Jim" Nye. Denise Ledyard [Jonathan Denise Ledyard Jr.] perished with his wife [Elizabeth Fitzhugh Ledyard] in the St. Lawrence , twenty-two years since  - a large- natured man, direct in speech, tender and manly and proud of heart, attached to his farm, generous, just, and public-spirited; a gentleman in his virtues, and too, nobly constituted to say, or do, or tolerate anything ambiguous in courtesy or morals.
Geo. Ledyard [George Ledyard], though now a stoutish, white- haired man, has, in his useful way, borne himself so blamelessly and modestly, that he is still "George" to his friends, and wears undimmed the favor he won in opening manhood.
John Fairchild, the perpetual secretary, was an exemplar of how to make money in business, by the secret of intelligence, courtesy, and attention. He did not aspire to be a leader, and he would be no one's henchman. There was imputed to him a liberal capacity for being disliked; and that was not hard to understand, and was to his credit. A thoroughness in whatever he undertook, habits of method, diligence and economy, were the disguises of a nature, strong and true, which ripened late. Year by year, he has grown kindlier and broader and less reticent. I have had occasion to observe the value and steadfastness of his friendship for the comrades of those days.
<:5> "Vib" Crocker [Viber Crocker], who lounged along the street as if he had a wager to win a slow race, and cared he might lose, and Tom Hamblin, he of the easy, slouching, sidling yet not ungraceful gait, and broad, ribboned hat, set rakishly on his tumultuous locks, were the pipemen, and proudly magnified their office. The former long since departed to the Silent Land. The latter has developed into the shrewd, popular, untiring man of business. His nature was social, and averse to strife and anger. Find him off duty, and he will revel in talk of the Haugena days, with a droll relish for the humor of the pharisaical rebuke administered at an annual village meeting, to the "fire boys," by a choleric, pompous intermeddler whose house and stable were a museum of sporting goods for the road, the forest and the stream, because they once celebrated an election of officers with an oyster soup and cigar, at the village hotel. Throughout, Hamblin will preserve the unconcernedness of a remote spectator.
In the ranks were K.N. Guiteau [Kendrick N. Guiteau], now, and for a long time, cooling his perfervid temperament, at St. Paul [Minnesota?]. C. Crandall [Charles Crandall], now lost to sight in a custom house; Jim Alden [James M. Alden], now gray- headed, a little less than a saint, and contented with his small means, since he holds that when he is happy, he has a better wisdom, and is as rich as Astor and pays fewer taxes and can go a-fishing, which Greely could not; Jim Dodge [James Dodge], wandering for years in sudden darkness, eyes ruined by the brightness of molten iron. His calamity in middle life, did not overmuch depress; it could not sour him. He is still glad "to see the boys" - and he sees with his ears alone - keeps a brave, cheerful heart, and has the pathetic patience of the hopelessly blind. Perhaps John Clough and Tom Dodds were in the ranks. Dodds floated back to the river of unpronounceable name, and Clough ended his life at Denver.
On my arrival in the dusk
of evening, I was, at once, recognized through the lapse and changes of
a quarter of a century. With a mind full of Cazenovia as I left it,
<:6> I began at once a series of rapid inquiries as to various friends
in ante-bellum days. My zeal was speedily rebuked. The replies,
slow, low toned, and tremulous, came, back sad as the responses to roll-call
after battle. Nothing could better hint the dread surprise in store,
or the delusion I had nourished, that time had stood still in that village.
How I got through the evening, it is not pleasant to recollect. The
past held me in thrall.
As I sallied forth in the morning, a gush of sky filled the upper end of Lincklaen street; purple flushes streaked the air on the Fenner hills; suggestion of mountains looked from the blue humps of upland, beyond [New] Woodstock; and near in the west the Lake quivered in sparkles, and danced clear to the foot of the broad ridge, behind which the 5 o,clock sun is wont to glide in unshorn splendor. The streets were expanses of smooth, white dust. The August air had a chill, as though a Charles Francis Adams [1807-1886, son of John Quincey Adams, distinguished American diplomatist] was in town. Smokeless household fires shot quivers of warmth into the sky. A cadenced movement along sidewalks told that people were astir, and accepted the new day that was but the echo of yesterday. Folks were moving about in the decorous, calculated, accented manner of those who bless themselves with table napkins and soup at dinner. It was as if a Quaker meeting had just dismissed its congregation.
Across the way from the hotel [Lincklaen House] - kept by strangers - time had stood still. Not a building had changed. Each object down Mill street seemed as familiar as though I had daily gazed down the brief vista. Yet the Cazenovia I saw, was not the alert, ambitious, hopeful, manufacturing village of my young manhood. In many regions of town, changes had crept in, and each change had been deemed an improvement, and it was, if a stranger can be the same as an old acquaintance, or the mansion stand clothed with the associations of the little house where one was born, or the sodden ryefield speak to the tears and hopes and admiration of the world which converge at Waterloo. Some portion of my former life forced itself <:7> to be recollected, and in the double consciousness of beholding the town as it is, and remembering it as it was, I found myself busy re-peopling the streets with those I had known, and who were present to me, as the dead and the absent, by illusion, sometimes are.
At once, the search began for survivors of the remote days when we met in the struggle which tries victors more mercilessly than it does the vanquished. Time, wiser than any assembly of sages, had arbitrated between us, and awarded justice to all. No one of us had fashioned the world according to his ideal standard. There is still a market for cakes and ale: the bat the rod and the gun have their votaries: and the thin, senseless jingle of the piano has not dwarfed the library and bookstore. We had grown tolerant, as we outgrew our conceit and saw through a long vista of experience and disillusions, that we were not the only channels of the power which turns the world.
An early call was made on Ed. Holmes [Edwin M. Holmes, residence at 100 Albany Street] but he looked broadly changed from what he was when we, with others, met of evenings at Capt. Hill's [Milo C. Hill, grocer] to swap fun, and banquet on a handful of peanuts and a trimmed herring. Saddest of all, he seemed to have suffered an eclipse of the will, and to have drifted passively on with open eyes. With motives enough to allure one to fly back from the jaws of hell, be lacks but purpose and decision to become the frank, cheerful, hopeful, manly, high-toned man of the days when life was, to him, as delicious as the opening scenes of a poet's dream of Paradise. In our interview the native energy and proud disdain of the man flashed out incessantly.
Lew. Hatch [Lewis L. Hatch], disfigured by rheumatism, sat a prisoner in his workroom chair; but his a mind clear and active and healthy as of yore. He has a bright word and glad welcome for a friend. But he would be happier, could he forget, or put from sight the ashes of his happiness. Capt. Hill [Milo C. Hill] had, a few weeks before [March 28, 1880], suddenly passed into <:8> the realms of Sleep's royal Brother. He went down, as a ship goes down at sea, every sail spread, and no time to fire a signal gun. He died as he wished, with no interval between health and death, to be filled with care to his family and suffering to himself.
I found the Recluse in the languor and weariness of a journey of four thousand miles, undertaken for the sake of an afflicted kinsman. All who knew him in his sparkling, ingenuous youth, must be touched by the noble, silent, unselfish patience with which he endures and waits the rising of some star of hope.
The village was in the midst of its gala season, but a cold August had abated the rage for a summer retreat in some climatic Greenland. the town had become the favorite goal of holiday parties. For a few hours, several days each week, pleasure- seeking crowds poured along the streets, and provoked a languid interest, Summer guests imparted a fitful animation, but the complacency of the citizens was too severe to be ruffled.
A late passion for bow [bay] windows had been followed by a clamor for porticoes or verandahs of a quite uniform design which failed to make any account of varying situation or styles of architecture. A residence, severely plain, rejoices in a portico of the same type as its ornate mansarded neighbor. The houses look as new and shining as a gambler's bible, or a modern statesman's copy of the Constitution. Those of recent construction stared at me as if they were intruders. The dear, well-remembered Cazenovia of school days was gone. The town is not the same. A great change had passed over it, or over me. The neat, plain houses - types of the frugal, deliberative, painstaking men who planned them - had given place to homes of a more pretentious and elegant kind. The people I had known, had nearly all vanished: some to other scenes, but the majority had been borne to the Cemetery. But, while riding slowly along the streets, the present seemed only the continuation of the <:9> life wrenched asunder, ere Buchanan became President [1857- 1861], and the intervening years disappeared, as though they had not been. By memory and not by sight, I beheld again the village and its people, as they were. For the moment the illusion was as vivid and perfect as the reality had been, and then the present swept it away, and the full contrast between what was and what is, burst on me. Each change was thus a surprise and a disappointment. What I remembered with quickened force, was softened by time, as harsh sounds are, by distance, toned to melody. It was inevitable that I should inquire as to those so acutely brought to mind, and the silent response was to drive me to their palaces of rest, in that shallow basin out on Fenner Street [Evergreen Cemetery].
The scanty acres, thick planted with headstones where I saw student after student laid with faces toward Jerusalem, had, by accretions on three sides, grown to a Cemetery, an epitome of moral didactics, with obelisk and pillar and tablet and memorial stone, of marble or granite of red, or blue, or gray. Intrusive lichens are busy at their foul work of effacing the older inscriptions. The name of the dead is, in most instances, the sole epitaph. For long as manhood and womanhood are nobler than fame, there will be names in that Cemetery prouder and yet more honorable than any stone literature of praise or regret. Trees dispense a grateful shade. Lines of ever greens insure the privacy dear to the contemplative hour. Footpath and carriage way give access to all quarters. Patient, trained, loving hands care for the grounds, and respect for the dead ascends to the sublimity of a religious sentiment. There, forgotten elsewhere, dwell the pioneers of the town. There, long resolved into parent clay, are the men of mental, social, and professional local eminence. There, too, have slowly gathered masterful men who once gave tone to the village, and drove into their children an ambition to develop the beauty of the town, and to see to it that, in their turn, their seats should be occupied by men and women too worthy for <:10> vulgar pride. Among these were the stern unsparing, unpitying, yet just teachers of the eager-eyed, headstrong, restless youth who saw life through the gorgeous veil of his courage, his hopes and his purposes. They seemed awful beings to him then, and he will become their Peer not until he lies as cold and still as they - in a low, green tent with the curtain that never opens outward. Youth with hopes as warm as creative life; manhood with its robust deeds; childhood wreathed with graces; old age worn by suffering, borne down by the chill of hope and thick crowding disappointments; men whose memory is yet green and revered; women too dear to the living to be named and there a divorce from all that is human, save sorrow for the dead. In that lovely valley, and on that beautiful slope, friend and stranger, kindred and benefactor, lie awaiting their more perfect mortality.
On a winter day and snow deep over the land, I had left to that Cemetery's awful care, the son, still dearer to me than aught that lives [I find no evidence of this burial - perhaps he is in an unmarked grave in the C.A. Coolidge [H.A. Coolidge?] lot, Lot I 400]. Such is the vivid recollection of that friend and comrade that, during the intervening long years, his voice has not faded from my ears, nor the thrill of his caress upon my bosom. The oak and the vine canopy his grave. His death revealed to me the native grace and manly tenderness of the Cazenovia folk. At that time, I could not thank even those on whom I had no claim, lest I should seem to defile the delicacy of such kindness. This is the late apology for my silence.
Wherever the Cazenovian dies, he longs, at the last, to be buried here. Every branch of the christian church respecting this fond desire, has consecrated the Cemetery to holy sepulture. In no spot is veneration for the dead more carefully and modestly expressed. And knowing its development from what it was to what it is, and what love, and pride of family, and self-respect, and sensibility to the claims of the dead, and what catholic influences to surround the living, this embellished Cemetery represents, it is still but the hallowed monument of LEDYARD LINCKLAEN.
<:11> Trees are everywhere throughout the village; in rows through the public grounds; in lines along the streets, and singly or in clumps in lawns and dooryards. From the turnpike across the lake, the town is invisible; only three church spires piercing the sea of foliage. Trees I used to clasp with one hand, now would fill my arms. At night, as street lamps are unknown, a sidewalk or a highway is a tunnel through blackness. The new houses depart widely from the cigar-box pattern which formerly gave law to the village architects. The village is beautiful as a toy. It looks finished. Change, without its decay, strikes the eye. The reserve of strength and the repose of good society are over all. I imagined that the daily dinner rose to the proportions of a family event.
A portion of the people have wealth, and the majority have a competence. These therefore cultivate and adorn all social amenities. The returned wanderer is greeted with a kindly welcome. The hospitalities of elegant, refined homes are cordially tendered. Attentions are lavished, and he learns that his brief stay derives its chief value and pleasure from the fraternal bond, almost dear as a tie of blood, which unites the exile to the dwellers in that upland village.
My days there were lotus-gathering ones. I tried not to see beyond what was on the surface, and resisted conclusions. But trained to antiquated ways, and modes of thought and observation, it would keep recurring to me that every departure from what had been, was not necessarily an improvement. The Seminary had not in all respects been fortunate. Debts had been incurred, and the interest permitted to accumulate beyond the power to meet the demand. An inability or a failure to maintain commercial honor in so vital a point, is a formidable attack on the moral character of any school, and blights its proper influence. In the choice of teachers sufficient attention had not been paid to scholarly attainments and pedagogical qualifications. The traditional idea of education, <:12> its purpose, and in what it consists, had been put aside in order to introduce special, or professional course to popularize the school, by professing to teach ingenuous youth only what is of value to make money with or by. There was a new departure to teach boys what helps to get rich, and the instruction was entrusted to Professors who were not scholars, and knew not enough of life to run a sawmill.
There were and doubtless are, accessible schools for teaching sciolism [superficial science], boating, billiards, and the fashion of "hazing" and wine suppers, and making betting books. Cazenovia Seminary needs not to ape their dubious curriculum. When Alverson [James L. Alverson, teacher 1840- 1845], Canfield [Alonzo B. Canfield, teacher 1844-1849], Hyde [Ammi B. Hyde, teacher 1846-1862], and White [Aaron White, teacher 1853-1855]; - when Hapgood [George D. Hapgood, principal 1838-1844], and Bannister [Rev. Henry Bannister, principal and teacher 1844-1855] filled its seats of instruction, its pupils were trained to study, think, analyze and know. Then the Seminary was a school that legislates.
I plead inability to attach any definite meaning to the sonorous phrase - a practical education. I can not imagine what is practical music, unless it be the sound of the tin dinner horn. The ladies allow me to understand what practical painting is, and a tobacconist's sign is the ideal of practical sculpture. For "practical" appears to signify some thing or quality to get rich by. If to roll together material wealth, is the measure and end of such education as is to be looked for in our schools, better use Tweed's Maxims instead of a treatise on Moral Science, and for school prizes propose a receivership or purchasing agency of a Western railroad.
The world needs Men more than it needs Wealth. Potosis have blessed mankind less than one muniment of human rights. A Marcy was a nobler product than a Daniel Drew. The Seminary does not well when it neglects the education which is manhood and character, for the education which is computable in money.
The Lake appears to have been rifled of its primitive charm. Spiteful steamers have put an end to dreamy, restful, delicious, uninvaded afternoons in row or sail <:13> boat. Its silence, its repose, and freshness and privacy are gone. It has become a ferry between the village and Lake View [Methodist Camp Meeting Grounds at the north end of the lake]. It is a water park. Its once careless plain is furrowed by screw or paddle-wheel. Its inmost coves and shady strand are as public and thronged as a county Fair. I was in the perverse humor to fly the strident babble of the hoyden tribe whose delight on its waters, rioted in unregulated frolic, dissonant cries and snatches of contraband songs. Yet no one should repine that the Quakers have not extended their dominion beyond its shore. It is well that the Lake is a pleasure ground for all, and that it is freely visited with holiday spirits and license. Its praises have been sung, and it is paying the natural penalty of popularity, by being a famous summer resort. The man who would have it all to himself may deplore the changes since Myron Swift, in the interval of winding his quart cup of watches - most of them would not go but he wound them each day all the same - harried its waters for bass and pickerel. But who is willing to leave hope behind by repeating dame Partington's exploit with her broom, in order to keep to-day under the heel of some remote yesterday? I care enough for the vanished allurements of the Lake, but I care far more for those who can be made better or happier for an hour at least, by a visit to it: who find it to appeal to the unlanguaged something in their breasts, which is less than reason and more than instinct, yet is the leaven of our brightest days and a motive for conduct.
The Indian dwelt at its foot. The pioneer planted his home by its margin. Romance, deeper and tenderer than tragedy, perfumes its waters. A prosaic Doctor of Divinity and a very proper Bishop had convulsed the town by their complaints of the dullness of their boat which, with infinite toil and vexation, they had, by inches, got a mile down the Lake, having clean forgotten to take in the grapnel [I do not know the basis of this line!]. Bits of personal history, and varied recollections were in my mind, and the cooing of ripples along the shore, was in my ears, while listlessly dipping <:14> the oar, and I can not tell whether I saw the Lake with the greater pleasure in my memory, or with my eyes.
If many had faded from the streets and homes, there still remained a few to whom the buffetings of their lot had left the recompense of a residence in the fair village. William Porter continues to pilot a dog about the thorough fares, and walks an authority in horse pedigrees, racing lore, and fancy chickens. If you would know the good talk possible about a horse, start him on turf events and the performances of Belfounder and Lady Moscow. A. Backus [Azel Backus] forgets, at times, that he is no longer young and the owner of a bank book. His welcome is as eager and warm and his voice as clear and ringing as when gaining his livelihood by making Madison County plows. Joe Brown, ex- fugitive slave, and not ashamed of his ebony, is unctious and full of rollicking gaiety. When he dies, Cazenovia will lose a man too humble of estate to have an enemy, and who irradiated his daily life with a happy face and a cheerful, contented spirit.
I saw for a little space, A. Dardis [Andrew Dardis], mellowed by time and hopeful, prompt to any cry of distress, and diligent in business; McCabe [John McCabe], tempting no ties of "lang syne" to tempt him from his glowing forge; "Nig" Marshall [Justice W. Marshall], carrying invention into his machine shop and putting into a seven pound wheelbarrow strong as a mule, more ability than John Jones did in the "Madisonian"; John Reymon, the one man enriched by trade in the modern village; H. Groff [Henry Groff] of whom we heard flattering tales as a salesman in Whig days, a little broader than then and as keen for bargains: Joe Nichols [Joseph Nichols], more globular, and if it be possible, busier; measuring cloth and dropping into song, putting his tape around a customer's chest and effervescing in unctuous laughter; the best of listeners yet a genial talker, and incapable of thinking evil of any one; S. Caswell [Sheridan S. Caswell], of whom the report was especially grateful to my old wishes in his behalf: George Carpenter, big diaphragmed and white-haired, changed to me beyond recognition <:15> by the hand that brings wisdom while it brings years, and improves as much by the subsidence of fervor as by study and experience. Though thirty wintry mile-stones had been passed since we had met, his eye is yet watching the dawn of that to-morrow which is to unveil the Land of Promise; B.R. Wendell [Benjamin Rush Wendell], almost younger than when he became a bank cashier, just as a man looks younger for a visit to his hair dresser, and is absolutely younger in the pleasure he derives from studying the happiness of others; L.A. Eddy [Lyman A. Eddy], finding it well to drop the pastor for an evening, and talk or listen on the old basis when we held common views and purposes. He has not grown the slave of his calling, nor has his mind shaped itself to the exclusive range of the pulpit. He too has made his voyage of life on no canal [his journey has not been the easiest], and keenly relishes the society of those not afraid nor ashamed to face unwelcome facts.
Domine Smith [Rev. Albert Patterson Smith?, church?] is clerical-bodied, and has manhood enough for two such bodies. His home welcome and conversation have a racy flavor, quite certain to delay a transient guest beyond his time. The dignified Bourbon who learns nothing and forgives nothing, on our meeting made known, in a clear manner, that he retained the old flavor of his implacability. It wanted but this encounter, to throw into bright relief the strenuous past against the faultless welcomes and indescribable greetings of today. I hope never to live for revenge or the pleasure of hating some one. The sole vengeance I ever thirsted for, was an opportunity of doing an ill-wisher a signal kindness. That luxury was mine, in Cazenovia, and the detractor found it expedient to give over his laborious animosity.
The town is a poem, and the people are its best lines. Vigor haunts the air: keen, lasting, instructive delight the landscape. There is a calm steadfastness in the tone of society. There are reminiscences to be recalled, for the place has a past older than any inhabitant, and the <:16> grand lesson that goes deep as to how absence dulcifies the just, stern, exacting discipline, almost mortal at the time, by which Cazenovia tried and proved her sons, ere their admission to her inmost franchises.
You, dear K~, will fondly imagine the whirl that evokes such a recall of the past what proud hopes went out in blackness there, and what part was assigned him in the procession of life, when the heart was high and warm, and the day's labor won the day's bread. Was ever sweeter food? His home was long since removed to another regiOn ; the banquet of life's morning is over and when he went back to the deserted hall, the many who sat elate at that garlanded feast of life were dead, or scattered, or changed, as years and duty well done will change men. In the rush and swirl of associations that captured his senses for fitftil, intermittent moments, the dead past came back. [he streets were again tenanteti by the ciCola of those who are hut a memory and dust.
There were the counterfeits, visible only- to Ply sharpened eyes, of Jack Childs, above praise for manly honor and regard for the rights and self-respect of others: the noblest gentleman of nature's own make I liav known Alverson, who taught me to learn a lesson until 1 knew it and knew the knowing of it: Lunkey," full of boisterous fun and broad pranks, glorious with horses, but a mute in polite circles; Elder Hawley, tembly sincere and proclaiming the Gospel which is Love, with pepperness of energy and manner and phrase; Ed. Burhans, equally famous as a teacher and for his imitation of one trait of the fine old English Gentleman: R. Curtis, in the decline of his fortunes, playing the second class clerk-the petty duties not degrading him who was never happier than in doing a kindness, or helping a friend; A. YV, Spencer, snuffed out in a moment by thn overturn of a carriage, and whom men admired for his thrift in business, with a dim suspicion that his humorous grotesqueness of language was a clue to the real fiber of his nature ;(H. Remsen, not forgetting that he had been a cotton king down South, and maintaining his nobility and blamelessness of life, through the darkening down of his day - a gallant gentleman with the remains of delusive enthusiasm which was in part his servant, and in part his master; R. Thomas, the mainspring of his ambition strangely disordered, and himself pitifully hampered by knowledge he failed to turn to financial account, and serving as village clerk, for twenty dollars a year; sexton Dodge, at threescore and ten, superior in agility and prowess to his stalwart sons and, dimly wavering, Gran. Murdoch, who used to run with Lew. Fairchild when the latter's flute playing knew no equal in Central New York ; Boardman, the gentleman in his pulpit and out of it-I always thought of him as a gentleman, and not as a christian teacher; L. Chandler,
quaintly formal according to a by-gone code, and of a precise stateliness of courtesy; Leonard, late home to heaven; Severance, valedictorian in 1842, and too early dead; Hall, of the severe face; Loveless, who can ask no charity kinder than silence ; Hank Allen, who perished on the Isthmus; Lew. Berthrong, the victim of his own impulse [suicide], Dwinelle, whom I saw only in decay and feebleness of advanced years; R. Allen, who cultivated taciturnity, and preserved his social qualities in ice, though cold will blister, and Elder Nickerson, who was a sore trial to the brethren because he was the gentlest of abolitionists.
The persistent illusion exhibited to me Sam. Thomas, smelling of wax and leather, seated in his shop, garnished with woodcuts of the anti-slavery gospel, and talking abolitionism to the high- nosed Bate Borden and the fat grum Sid. Roberts; Tom Bishop making a shilling thirteen cents when he sold, and twelve cents when he paid one out; L.D. Coburn, eager for public days when he could again flourish a drumstick; the two Gilsons, singing songs with voice~s that had lost their freshness; Osburn. sucking his pipe, hinting at politics and longing for an office at Albany; Dr. Potter, looking up an antagonist at draughts; the Anderson Boys and their set, ea~ evening meeting to talk horse; Vic. Dearborn, going about with a tale in dispraise of some one whom he did not like, and such were numerous, and Jim Alden, relating for the fiftieth time, amid irrepressible laughter, how himself and a few others, stationed themselves, in relays, a mile and a half out along the Morrisville road, to halt the father on his return from county convention to ask with feigned solicitude, if his son got the coveted non)j nation for county clerk they knowing all the time that he been ignominiously defeated, and the irascible father, after the third hail, shutting his ears and driving home as though he were going for the doctor.
During my long residence in Cazeno\ a onI5 the few past the late afternoon of life, were cxc ~pt from daily toil. Professional duties, or petty handici Ift% or trade or manufactures, or the care of landed interests exacted from all others steady employment. The villi crc endured no sluggards and no idlers. The inhabitants "crc a bare handed, shirt-sleeved folk. Out of the narrow robustness and the provincialism of their condition, their plain, exact ways, each man stately with the ineffable conceit that lie alone was right, and fiercely bent on converts to his views and practices, issued H. W. Slocum, distinguished in war and Congress, J.R. Hawley of military renown, ex-Governor, member of Congress, and certain to enter the Senate, and perhaps to fill a more exalted place; C.D. Warner, famous in literature; G.W. Allen, who never held an office, but by force of what he is, has long been a power in Wisconsin ; L. Lincklaen, so fertile in influences of a broad, aesthetic character, that he transformed the modest village into a town, lovely and picturesque as a picture by Turner; the Litchfields, who first linked Chicago to the East by railroad, and thus gave the impetus to the wide Northwest, and made it to yield bread to two continents; Charley Fairchild, who as a State Officer refused to lift the law from the incarcerated Tweed D.W. Fisk, a Professor in Cornell, and "Tench" [Fairchild], the erratic boy, whose genius and excesses, triumphs and failures, were alike phenomenal.
If dear Cazenovia has, for her children, the
deep charm of associations, the visitor must carry them with~him, or fail
to find the sacred enchantments. What the village may appear to be,
will depend on the preparation of eye which beholds it, just as one sees
in the mirror's depths only the face of the gazer. In the resuscitation
of memory and the quickened sensibility, on my late visit, the men of a
dead generation were again the notable part of the Cazenovia which sits
a Queen of Beauty and deep, Serenity. The necrology of twenty-five
years was condensed into half a week. In the list, were names I dare
not to mention. There can be no better excuse for the freedom of
this paper tha ii that from its perusal you will glean somewhat of the
ties which knit men of that village together in bonds less selfish than
ties of blood.
Is it not significant of independence of mere traditions and conventionalisms, that in no town did the influence of the pulpit depend less on the sermons and more on the high, manly charactens of the pastors? Their best preaching was by example. With no exception, they deemed religion a life instead of a dogma, and my intercourse with them is among my pleasantest recollections. Better than others, they appeared to understand the people, and to appreciate their character and their lot.
Rev. Wm. Clark was a rare man. His daily life was purer and more persuasive than spoken sermon. More friend and companion than theorizer, he inclined men to godliness by the contagion of example. In the gospel he preached, he found whatever reforming and purifying agencies men can need.
Rev. E. Bowen was a born leader, of grim, puritanical
uprightness, with as many rights as anybody, fond of his own way, and impatient
of opposition or dissent. Men
named him with bated breath. He was a compelling christian. It is possible that he laughed-sometim~
but ifa smile was seen on his face after his ordination, or if there was a moment when he laid aside his majestic dignity, or his austere robustness of demeanor, the fact was too incredible to be made public. He must have peeled a potato as if it were a sacrificial act, and dressed his hair as though deprecating Divine wrath.
Rev. Joseph Cross appeared a diminished copy
of Antinous. He could wear an Indian blanket with a grace to make
it took a robe fit for a monarch. His brilliancy in the pulpit-and
he was brilliant there-was equaled by the simplicity of his manners and
the purity of his life. He was beloved and popular in his church
and out it, without being a leader. He went South, took orders in
the Episcopal Church, and long afterwards drifted into Illinois, and, it
is understood, has returned to the church of his youth-another illustration
of the triumph of earl>' impressions, and that the convictions of young
manhood often prove, as life wears apace, stronger than the piques and
short- lived ambitions of manhood's prime.
Rev. S. Comfort, a studious man, a strong, patient, logical thinker, knew and revered the Ten Commandments and the Interest Table. But never did a preacher of undoubted learning and piety and ability, exclude from his pulpit every grace or pleasing quality or tone or gesture, with an equally merciless rigor. His amended sentences, and anti-climaxes, and elocution, were of inimitable badness. I used to to think his manner was the type of total depravity.
Had others known, as I knew. Rev. Z. Paddock, he would have been reverenced as the world reverences its martyrs. In him patience and meek forbearance wrought a perfect work, and he wore his priestly office worthily.
Oliver Jewell, of the Lincklaen House, raised
hotel management to an art. His table was a study, and the morning
coffee nectar. Col. Seymour, of the Cazenovia
House, shared Col. Ehle's virile adventures, and added to the fund of gentlemen's stories. The tales may have been embellished in tile narration, but, in the main, they were as veracious as the official report of a battle. Yet in his house he was a martinet. No gossip, and no uncharitable opinions were heard at his table, while his talk was as clean as my soup at Kasota. I long sat at his board, and among my fellow gastronomes were Frank Moseley who learned singing from a rip saw. He wanted his fun ready made. After a prosperous career as a tradesman, he died in Wisconsin in life's summer. Gay Charley Hunt devoured by the fascinating study of bar glasses and potables; and Rev. H. Coxe, about whose lips played the genius offun and humorand brilliant repartee, Had his head exploded, the country would have been amazed by a shower of falling stars.
S.H. Henry having drank deep and long from
the cup of retribution; family abandoned, friends gone, property gone,
health gone, and himself miserably cowering over the dead ashes of self-respect,
died, not to soon, in California. Vic. Dearborn, straitened by poverty
not wholly inevitable, and long a-dying of an incurable lesion was warped
into the malignant temper incident to his condition, Somehow, he
failed to maintain the melody of his morning psal~ of life.
Gen. Rough had little of the easy indifference to dark courses which lies at the root of popularity. He had outlived the prejudices handed down from early times of anti-masonic tumult, During my acquaintance, I heard no word, and saw no act not to his honor. His life was a rebuke to the idle, the vicious and the malignant, No reformer, he was no corrupter of morals or sound principles. It was inevitable that he was respected rather than liked.
On the street, Col. Stebbins appeared to be unconscious of others, and was, in consequence, thought to be unsocial or proudly disdainful. An accident revealed to
me his glad, prompt, cordial, polished courtesy, and the transformation when he welcomed a guest. He was able to adhere to his juvenile purpose to retire from his active profession at sixty, and at seventy to give no opinion on legal matters. When others talked to be social, he was still chary of speech. He was only self-poised and distant, in his ill-understood way. If he had no enthusiasm he also had no relapse of convictions. Nor would he stoop to brush aside a specious tale framed to his injury. A chance remark, on the Mississippi, revealed to me how cruelly he had been misjudged for his fidelity to a trust. I dimly recall passages in his early life, which hint the grand moral fiber or will power of the man, by indicating the repression of himself exerted for half a century. He spoke so seldom that people who saw him daily for years may never have heard his voice. Really. I would know what fruits were elaborated by his thinking. A strong, just man, of spotless character.
John Williams was, above others, the pure type of the Cazenovia I knew. Strong of build, unmoved, strenuous, hopeful, accessible, not easily discouraged, quick of decision, if thrown down falling on his feet, manufacturer, tradesman, politician and an officer of many corporations, he loved honor and public esteem, family and christian morality. Under the man of affairs, lay a nature poetical in its love for the elevated and beautiful in literature. He ~'~s tried by reverses, and stood the shock, like the master of his own fortunes. He put success into things. By purse and brain, he carried the Seminary through its crises, and saw its enlarged halls thronged by ambitious students under profound scholars, and declined specific compensation, on the wise plea that he had been repaid by the enhancement of his estate, incident to such prosperity in the village as could be traced to the presence in its midst of a school that did well its allotted work.
Major Litchfield's days glided by.in unruffled quiet He had quaffed deep of life's varied goblet, and fo.undno
pleasure or repose or satisfaction comparable to the delights of home, the society of his pastor, the sober joy of religious meetings with the few grey-headed worship-pens whose voices, thin, broken, and tremulous with age and fervor, informed their songs with a pathos beyond lyric art. Watching the rising fame of his sons, he was separated from others, by the serenity of his life and manners. In a way I could riot analyze, he strongly enforced lessons of kindness, of charity to human frailty, and the duty of self-control and christian thoughtfulness.
Major Ten Eyck's purse and counsel aided more than one struggling man to the moderate competence, dearto age. No rivalry in business, no heated political contest, and no division on local questions, lost him a friend, or gained him an enemy. He had thrift without meanness, economy without parsimony, and liberal it;. Without Ostentation. H is kindness to me will not let me sav more. l4is s~n taught me, as wcll as I could learn, the value of forgetfulness of injuries, or the wisdom of remembering without resentment. And my poor capacity for turning active unfriendliness into a means of self-improvement, was tested more than once, In the constant good offices to others in which "Hank" Ten Eyck indulges, it should not surprise him to learn that his efforts in my behalf and known to me not until years later and he had forgotten them, were as rich in results as he could have desired. He gave me courage, and was to me a large section of the best part of Cazenovia, His efforts in my behalf were not through personal regard one tithe as much, as because it was his pleasure and habit to yield to the promptings of his beneficent instincts.
He bears without abuse,
The grand old name of gentleman.''
When a crisis came, W.M. Burr exhibited a boldness, a courage and decisive action, prompt and daring which might have taught his neighbors that his caution was but prudence. and his imputed timidity a love of quiet and a
purpose to shun ostentation. He had the rare quality or nsing to the occasion, and becoming master of the Sitea. ation. His mild, passionless words and low, even tones, were, on occasion, the hand of iron in the glove of velvet. He tasted the secret of happiness at home, amid his family and kindred. He was kind without insolence, and rich without pride. By joining other capitalists, he gave employment to a multitude, and contributed to the early extension of railways to the west.
S.T. Fairchild is swayed by temporary external influences to about the same degree that Bunker Hill Monument is by solar heat. He is hence a leader whenever he wilt accept the stormy honor. In politics. he believes in men as much as in hl% p~rty. Among my pleasantest and most instructiy ~\ 5 I count the leisure afternc)on with him, rockin<~ idh in his boat far out on the lZ~kL, and listening to h~m on th Philosophy of I~ife, its aims and motives, and the proper measure of character. 'V later introduction to h15 home library afforded mean idea of the man, his tastes and reading, quite unlike the oi)e entertained by' such as estimate him by the standard of the politician, the financier or the law\'er.
The essential quality of Lewison Fairchild is thorough-ness. He has great capacity for seeing and knowing so much on his side of a question; he persists in keeping in mind many things and facts which other men forget or neglect. He goes beyond outside facts to the eternal principles. I imagine he made a mistake in not becoming an avowed chancery pleader, or a real estate lawyer. Some grand, engrossing pursuit, worthy of him, would have lifted him to higher planes, or dulled his advocacy of transient local interests. I can talk nearer and wider and deeper to him than to others. And I brought home the confidential evidence of his steadfastness to his friends.
Mathematically, he is a "plus" man. He can not be indifferent or neutral, and has paid the usual penalty for presuming to be something and spmebody, in a town
where inflexibility of character was one of the seven deadly sins, and easy flexibility was worse.
John F. Fairchild, the man of granite, severely straight-forward, plain of manner, a clear, earnest thinker, implacable and inflexible in his principles, proud in a noble wav, tender and true to friends, with the courage of strong manhood and the courage of stout endurance, admired men of a strong, aggressive will, and a high purpose. Though an editor for nearly forty years, through those dolorous days when a difference in politics meant social non-intercourse, or positive enmity, he was intolerant of a politician who would rise by apologizing for vice, or by traffickng in ths wcaknes5~ or passtons of the people.
As B.T. Clarke and M. Spear men who denied
me tl~c pos£ib~lit~ of friendshi1) to thcm, saw their ambition ex1)irc
in thu l)rLsence of num~, ou~ years, they- retired from. business and striving~
for domination, and threw off th> aspurities whose indul'
d eli~gence hid once filled them with
6ht. But I can not forget the d~5 s when they thought the sun rose to hear their cocks crow. At length, the near-sightedness of a passion for exercising inconsistent caprices in regard to their neighbors' conduct and opinions, gave place to a clearer, juster, broader vision. Their foes must have seen that, at the bottom, the bias of temperament was powerless, and, at last, they would be just in their judgment of others. Their very intensity gave their characters a wounding angularity and decision. This explains their partisanship and struggle to direct in local things. They long judged everybody and everything by themselves. But the effort at supremacy over, it was seen that they respected and admired the antagonists whose temper they had tried, and in some instances even gave them their confidence and sought their friendship.
These were some of the men, the leaders in trade, in manufactures and finance, in church and society, in politic and industrial aud commercial enterprises. whose
memory filled riy mind on my late visit. Through the illusion of sensibility', I fancied them walking the streets as in the days before Gerrit Smith began to preach his politics on Sundays. The past came back to me, with a constant feeling and regret not to be spoken, as clear and passionate as if it were of last week. To exchange niv visit for this cheat on consciousness, was not altogether the entertainment I had expected. It was natural, such a necromancer is Time, that those I had known only a~< children should meet m& with grey' heads, and repsating their vanished youth in manly sons and daughters blush mg with dignity and loveliness. I was prone to greet them as John or Harriet, instead of Mr. Graham or Mrs. Symonds, and they' forgave the impertinence with a smile half of amusement and half of regret, that we must )av our youth for wisdom and the graver duties of life.
Not all who began the race with me, have been successful in getting wealth, or in preserving their modest fortune : for Cazenovia 25 not a place to get rich easily in. But nearly all have kept the promise of their early manhood, and have won esteem for what they ar~ an I not for houses or stocks or lands. They are the bettci for having lived in Cazenovia, with its high ideal of ch~i cttr its slowly garnered wealth, its courteous manners it" broad and broadening culture, its refined hospitality intl its neat cheerful Itomes of beauty and comfort. \ et the best thing about the village is its people who do not have to be rich to be somebody. Its social life has grown many-sided and a genial moralist and educator.
As the days and years which had slipped away, recalled themselves, and put off their historical character, comparisons were inevitable. I was put face to face with my old life. The present Cazenovia can fear no contrast with a previous one; she has forgotten or put away no former virtue or courtesy or ideals of discipline. The sun rises on no purer, sweeter homes. It is a good place to be reared in, and then emigrate from.
One friend whose legal labors mark an era in State jurisprudence- may he pardon this stolen allusion to himself-gave his clever, genial, instructive society on my rides during the four days, and dismissed me to my home, not less gratified by his many courtesies than by the knowledge df the general testimony that he has nobly redeemed his morning promise of ability, learning, character and usefulness.
How full to me of kindly ghosts was the air
of the fair old village I could not fill myself with its idle
summer contcnt. My past there put off its historical character.
Mv to-day and my yesterdays were parts of the etc'rnal now. At each step,
attended by recollections to be confessed only to the dead, memory' and
con5c10u' ness of the present, were blended in a perplexing jilUSiOfl.
My thoughts bore me such company', that I was never less alone than when
all alone. In part, this mystification of the senses came from the
isolation which for years had been my pain and refuge, but, in a far greater
degree, it was a seciud of an illness which in one little month, during
which delirium was kind as sleep, made me ten years older and planted deep,
subtle lesions to rob me of strength and courage to face a future grown
suddenly unkind, when it was like going on a forlorn hope to dare the struggle.
That you, to whose intelligence an appeal ~an prudently be made, may know how my life was colored by a residence in a town which above all others I have known, causes each citizen to feel, each moment, the vast superincumbent weight of public opinion, I have here used a household freedom of speech as to some of its present and former citizens, and have written with exceeding plainness this record of moods and reminiscence.