Boston (Mass.).

In memoriam. C.N.T. [Charles Nocoll Talbot] November 29, 1874 online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryBoston (Mass.)In memoriam. C.N.T. [Charles Nocoll Talbot] November 29, 1874 → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






^vx ^.

.^V^ ^ V \ 'A vv\







/-/ A^:

V ^5^-^-^

^/^ 7^7c^^



C. N. T.

NOVEMBER 29, 1874.

' ' Mark the perfect man, a?id behold the upright : for the
end of that man is peace, "

''And he was not, for the Lord took him. "





Printed for the Faniily Circle.

Charles Nicoll Talbot was born in New York
City, October 4th, 1802, He was the oldest son of
George Washington Talbot by his first wife, Maria
DePeyster Bancker, and was a grandson of Com-
modore Silas Talbot, of worthy Revolutionary
fame, and who superintended the building of, and
long commanded, the well-known frigate Constitu-
tio7i.^ An interesting portfolio of autographs re-
mains in the family, composed of the successive com-
missions of Commodore Talbot, and also letters re-
ceived by him from Gen'l Washington, John Han-
cock, John Adams, Laurens, Lafayette, General
Gates, Gen'l Knox, and others. There are also one
or two very friendly letters from the renowned Tous-
saint Louverture, received by the Commodore
while on the West India station. The family had
long lived in the old village of Dighton, Mass.,

* Some interesting details respecting the Talbots may be found in the Life
of Commodore Talbot, by Henry T. Tuckeniian (New York, 1850). Mr.
Tuckennan describes the family as of Norman extraction, and traces it back
to the reign of William the Conqueror. The name occurs often, and with
great distinction, in the later civil and military annals of England.

The Banckers are lineally descended from Admiral Bancker, of Holland,
and still carry on their Coat of Arms the figure 4, granted to that distinguished
seaman by the States General of the Netherlands, in recognition of his ser-
vices in the capture of four of the enemy's ships.

4 5 X X

but a spirit of adventure led the young Silas to
leave his trade of mason, and his father's large
family, and go to sea, beginning as cabin boy in a
coasting vessel. His career during the War of
Independence Is a matter of history. The Com-
modore had by his first wife two sons, George W.
and Cyrus, who were both educated in the French
Navy, through the warm friendship of Lafayette,
and other French officers, for their father. The
eldest, George Washington, the father of the sub-
ject of this sketch, transferred to our own navy
for a short time, soon left the sea for a mercantile
life, and was the first of the family to engage In
commerce with China. He was a highly esteemed
merchant of the old school, and being well-known
in Providence, R. I., at one time the residence of
his parents, added to his own business an exten-
sive commission trade with the Carringtons, the
Arnolds, the Butlers, and other prominent mer-
chants of that city, who gave him their entire

Charles N. Talbot passed his earlier years at
home with his parents, who lived In Dey street,
and afterwards In Liberty street, the city at that
time extending no farther north than Chambers

street. He attended the celebrated school of
Dr. E. D. Barry, and a little book is in existence
of weekly reports running through more than a
year, duly signed, and all ranking him '' Best in
his class," '' Premium Best," or '' Best this week."
Still a boy during the war of 1812, he was among
a number called out to assist in digging trenches ;
and at one time, as he was returning from a visit to
Providence with his brother William, the sloop
was captured, and the whole party held prisoners
for a week on Plum Island. He early entered his
father's counting-room as clerk, remaining there
some years.

At this period, when the old English East India
Company still strove to monopolize the business of
the world with the Chinese, Mr. Talbot accepted a
position in the Canton house of Messrs. Thomas
H. Smith & Co., of New York, and sailed for the
East, before he was eighteen, to engage in a trade of
increasing importance. He remained in China for
twelve years, visiting home but once in that time.
He resided in Canton, then the only open port,
but was once or twice called away by business to
Manilla and Singapore. In 1828 he, with Mr.
David W. C. Olyphant, established the houses of

Olyphant and Co. in Canton, and of Talbot, Oly-
phant & Co. in New York, and these houses were
continued until his retirement from active mercan-
tile pursuits in 1846. The business of his day
differed materially from that of the present ; the
absence of the modern facilities of steam naviofa-
tion, fast mails and telegraphs, specially calling for
sound judgment and experience and tact. It some-
times occurred that the first intelliofence received
of a vessel sent from New York with a valuable
freight was a message from Sandy Hook an-
nouncing her arrival home again. The business
was in its nature an interestine" one, involvinof
transactions with all parts of the world, affording
knowledge of the productions and wants of every
clime, and intercourse with 'all nationalities. His
anecdotes of this portion of his life were many
and varied, and his children will always remember
with interest the ships of the firm. They were the
Roman, the Morrison and the Huntress, named
after the vessel in which he made his first voyage
to China. Mr. Talbot also had an interest in the
Zenobia and the Lebanon, and the bark Fairy. In
addition to these, a number of ships built by Cap-
tains Putnam and Story, and chartered by the firm,

sailed for years under the house flag, and came
to be identified with their business. One of
these, named for him, the Talbot, was afterwards
bought by his brother's firm. Their old captains,
whose names are almost household words, were
Lavender, Benson, Gillespie, Story, Putnam, Good-
hue, and Blish. In the good old ship Roman all of
the family who ever visited China made at least
one trip. So highly was she esteemed that a
second ship was built with the same name to suc-
ceed her.

During his life in the East, he came into close
contact with many of the Chinese merchants, num-
bering among his intimate friends Mow-qua, Cum-
wa, Ton-shing, Tin-qua, Sam-qua, Pun Tin-qua,
and Mow-shing, of whom he brought a portrait
home with him.

His firm never traded in opium, that curse
which foreigners have enforced on the Chinese, a
fact that earned honorable mention in the British
Parliament. A junior partner of the house, Mr.
Charles W. King, planned and accompanied
an expedition to Japan in July, 1837, to restore
a crew of shipwrecked Japanese sailors to their
country, and with the hope of introducing civil-


ization and Christianity. He was before the age ;
his ship, the Morrison, was persistently fired
upon, and, after two attempts, returned without
even effecting a landing — the shipwrecked sailors
themselves at last confessing that they could be
put ashore only at the risk of their lives. A
somewhat similar expedition had been made the year
previous to Borneo. Both vessels carried mis-
sionaries. On the first breaking out of the gold
fever the firm happened to have a ship, the Hunt-
ress, Captain Spring, named after the old Hnnt-
ress, in San Francisco harbor. The next intelli-
gence was the arrival of the captain at the count-
ing-room in New York with a trunk of gold dust.
His crew had run away, and, entirely helpless, he
had sold everything, including the ship, which, in
the absence of buildings, was invaluable as a store-

In 1833, soon after his return home, Mr. Talbot
married Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Samuel
N. Richmond, of Providence, R. I., and the con-
nection led to his forminof a summer home on the
eastern shore of Narragansett Bay, a few miles
below Providence, to which he gave the name of
an Indian chief connected with the locality, '* Pom-

ham," and which he continued to visit for nearly
thirty years. Later in Hfe, he adopted Northamp-
ton, Mass., (where his father had spent the closing
years of his life), as a country residence. For
some fifteen years after his marriage, his city resi-
dence was at 6 1 Bleecker street. In 1848 he
moved into the new house which he had built for
himself at 62 Fifth Avenue, and here he resided
during the remainder of his life. It was on his
return to New York, after spending a summer of
great enjoyment, and shortly after the completion
of his seventy-second year, that he was attacked
by fatal disease, which, with scarce a warning, ter-
minated his life November 29th, 1874. Mrs.
Talbot survives him, and with ten living children (of
thirteen), reverences the memory of his pure, lovely
and beniofnant life.

Mr. Talbot's entire life evinced stronor affection
for his parents, and his brothers and sisters. The
oldest son of the family, he worthily filled the
position, rejoicing to give of his time and ability
to those so dear to him, and never failing in a
constant and self-sacrificing attention, which made
him the staff of his father's declining years.

His retirement from the busy occupations of


South street did not lead him to idleness. He
gave increased time to the calls of religion and
benevolence. Reared under the care of a pious
and lovely mother, and always of reverent charac-
ter, he and his wife, soon after their marriage, uni-
ted with the Bleecker street Presbyterian church,
under the care of Dr. Erskine Mason, and he
was Iouq; a trustee of that church. For Dr. Mason
he cherished strong admiration and regard. He
took a w^arm interest in missions, aroused perhaps
by his intercourse while in China with Abeel,
Bridgman, Williams, and especially his close friend,
Dr. Morrison. The ships of his firm had always
carried free the missionaries sent out to China.
His business had enlisted his active sympathies in
the American Seamen's Friend Society, with its
outgrowths — the Seamen's Home and the Sea-
men's Savings Bank. For a long period, and till
his death, he was a working member of the Board
of Managers of the American Bible Society, and he
was one of the committee who erected their present
useful building. The Deaf and Dumb and the
Half Orphan Asylums, and the Presbyterian Hos-
pital, all shared his unwearied attention. A visit
to the last was his latest earthly labor.

1 1

He was senior director of the Delaware and
Hudson Canal Company, with which he had been
connected thirty years. He was also senior di-
rector of the Howard Fire Insurance Company.

At the time of his death, Mr. Talbot was a mem-
ber of the Church of the Covenant in New^ York,
havino- connected himself with it soon after its
organization. He took a lively interest in its
prosperity, contributed liberally toward the erection
of its beautiful house of worship and parsonage,
and had the delight of seeing his six younger
children follow the older ones into its fellow-
ship. For the Rev. Dr. Prentiss, the pastor
of the church until his transfer to the Union
Theological Seminary in 1873, Mr. Talbot's af-
fection and respect were strong and unwavering.
Rarely did he return from attendance on the
regular services of the church without an ex-
pression of the pleasure and profit received from
the faithful exposition of the gospel to which he
had listened ; .while his personal love for the man
was shown by his enjoyment of an occasional
visit from Dr. Prentiss at his country home, and
by his substantial aid towards furnishing him with


a house, upon his departure from the church par-

He was also particularly happy in other pastoral
connections. Each returning summer brought
him into most pleasant relations with the Rev. W.
S. Leavitt, of the First Congregational Church at
Northampton, a man of scholarly mind, and a
genial companion, with whom he formed a warm

This would be a very imperfect memorial
of Mr. Talbot without a few words telline of the
large share of his life which he devoted to his
children. Released many years ago from active
business, he lived with them in the peculiarly happy
relationship of friend as well as father. With " a
heart at leisure from itself," he entered into the
personal interests and welfare of every child ; —
all in that laro^e household were cared for with
the thouofhtful, tender discernment, that souofht
out and gratified, as far as possible, each individ-
ual taste ; and not one of his children can ever


forget his delight and pride in their successes —
whether as children, or men and women.

Thoroughly practical and efficient himself in
every kind of home handicraft, his approval was
eagerly sought in the labors of the workshop, the
pen and the pencil, in the youthful collections of
stamps and coins, in music, and at the easel.

Not an event at school, at college, or in business,
but it met with his heartiest sympathy and wise
counsel. In the oft-recurring anniversaries and
holidays, he always joined with much spirit, adding
greatly to the enjoyment of the day, by his ready
wit and kindly humor. All his pleasures were
home pleasures, and unwilling to have the home
circle broken, he bade any of its members "good
bye " with reluctance, alluding to their absence with
regret, and greeting their return with a gladness
of welcome peculiar to himself

Hardly a bouquet was fashioned in the garden,
but he lent his pleasant aid ; not a sail on the
waters of their earlier summer home was com-
plete without him ; and his presence in the long
afternoon drives, among the fair views that sur-
rounded their home in later clays, was the chief
enjoyment of all. Entering with eager zest into

his much-loved wife's pursuits and pleasures, he
was unwearied, both by day and night, in adding
treasures to her stores — butterflies and wild ber-
ries, rare flowers, ferns and shrubs. All the beau-
ties of nature their father and mother knew and
loved so well were thus made very precious to
the children.

The gentleness and repose of his manner drew
every child to him ; his grandchildren always
hastened to his side for his cheery greeting, and his
last earthly act of thoughtfulness for others was
to call one of them to his dressing-room to com-
fort him, after some slight disappointment. A few
moments more, and his heart had ceased to beat
— and the noble head was laid low, and the hands
and feet were at rest, that for so many years had
done such willing work in his Master's service. He
had gone out from the home here, of which he w^as
the centre and light, — but from that other home
above, in which his mourning wife and children, and
children's children, hope one day to be gathered
with him, he shall "go no more out forever."

The funeral of Mr, Talbot took place at 1 1 o'clock a, m ,
Dec. 2, 1874. The house was crowded with sympathizing
friends and neighbors. It was a most impressive assemblage,
remarkable especially for the large number of aged and vener-
able men, eminent in all the walks of life, who were present.
Appropriate and comforting passages of Holy Scripture hav-
ing been read by the Rev. M. R. Vincent, D. D. , pastor of
the Church of the Covenant, a short address was delivered by
the Rev. George L. Prentiss, D. D., and prayer was then
offered by the Rev. W. S. Leavitt, of Northampton, Mass.,
upon whose ministrations Mr. Talbot attended while at his
summer home. The remains were temporarily deposited in
the vault of Mr. Lenox, in the adjoining church-yard, on the
corner of Fifth avenue and Twelfth street ; the following old
friends serving as pall-bearers, viz., John C. Green, James
Lenox, Thomas Dickson, Robert Carter, William W. Parkin,
A. Robertson Walsh, Aaron B. Belknap, and Edward H. R.
Lyman. As, followed by the bereaved family and friends, they
proceeded to the spot and gathered around the open grave,
and, with heads uncovered, joined in repeating the Lord's
Prayer, and then committed the body to the ground, earth
to earth, the scene had all the quiet and touching aspect
of a country burial. The busy Avenue seemed for the
time deserted ; no discordant sound jarred upon the ear ;
and the mild winter's day was like a pleasant day in
spring. One of the pall-bearers, Mr. John C. Green, as the
grave was closing, approached Mr. Talbot's old pastor, and


with an unusual outburst of emotion, tears filling his eyes,
expressed his strong and tender affecdon for the departed.
Mr. Green has already rejoined his old friend beyond the
river. Another of the group, who on the morning of the 2d of
December stood around that open grave — one peculiarly devoted
and endeared to Mr. Talbot — his younger brother, William,
has also rejoined him in the better country. He died on the
17th of January, 1875, exactly seven weeks after the departure
of his brother Charles. By a singular coincidence, his death
also was sudden, and caused by a like disease — preceded by an
attack not deemed fatal. He, too, died on Sunday, and was
buried on the Wednesday following in the Episcopal graveyard
adjoining the home of his later years in Greenwich.



There is something very impressive, not to say
startling, in the suddenness with which of late one
after another of our aged and eminent citizens has
been snatched away from us. Almost without
warning, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
as it were, they have vanished into the undiscov-
ered country, and the places that so long knew
them will know them no more forever.

And yet I doubt if the friend, around whose
bier we are assembled, would have felt greatly dis-
turbed by the thought of so sudden and noiseless
a departure. Long ago he had made ready for
the journey ; he loved to do everything in the
quietest way ; so far, therefore, as he himself was
concerned, he would probably have chosen to go
out of the world in the very manner appointed
him by Providence. I can readily imagine him
adopting as his own the thought so beautifully ex-
pressed by Mrs. Barbauld :


Life ! we 've been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather :
'T is hard to part when friends are dear,
Perhaps 't will cost a sigh, a tear ;

Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time ;
Say not Good Night, — but in some brighter clime

Bid me Good Morning.

And as the thought of thus quietly parting company
with Hfe would probably have been rather pleasing
than otherwise to our lamented friend, so, I am sure,
it would have pleased him best to think that when
he was gone the words spoken at his burial would
be few and simple, and in praise of his Master
rather than of himself. For he was a man of the
rarest modesty ; so rare that it quite concealed
from his own eye that uncommon beauty and
loveliness of character in which the eyes of his
friends found such constant delio^ht. I shall so
far defer to what I know would have been his own
wish as to indulge in no formal eulogy ; and my
words shall be few and simple. But when such a
friend leaves us for a better world, it soothes our
grief, and Is one of the Providential compensa-
tions for our loss, that we may tell each other how
much we loved him, may rehearse to each other
his virtues, and speak of him with a freedom


which we could hardly have used while he was
still with us. Indeed, it is only when the veil of
the unseen world has forever hidden those we
love from our earthly sight that we are able fully
to realize what they were in themselves, and what
they were to us. How death seems to complete,
as well as to consecrate, a long and noble life,
uniting all its scattered parts — its bright morning,
its noonday strength, and its calm eventide — in
one blessed whole, and so enshrining it in the
memory of survivors as " a joy forever ! " We all
feel this on the present occasion. There was a
perfect harmony in the life and character of our
departed friend. It was all of a piece. Those
whose recollection of him carries them back to
his earlier days, and those who first knew him in
the vigor of his years, have in their minds one
and the same image — a quiet, gentle, true-hearted,
pure and most lovable man ; the delight of all his
friends ; faithful in that which was least, and faith-
ful also in much ; a man of large and generous
sympathies, " not slothful in business, fervent in
spirit, serving the Lord." To have known such a
man intimately, to have walked with him, year
after year, the paths of time, especially to have


sustained to him the dear and sacred relationships
which bind together husband and wife, parents
and children, brothers and sisters, in household
union, may fairly be regarded as among the rich-
est benedictions of Providence. For myself, I
shall not cease to be thankful that I was permitted
so long to know and love him, both as his pastor
and his friend.

Although a number of his earlier years were
passed on the other side of the globe, Mr. Talbot
was still one of the old and honored merchants of
New York. His business career was one of spot-
less integrity ; he pursued the even tenor of his
way, turning neither to the right hand nor to the
left ; and he retired from the eno^rosslnof duties
and cares of mercantile life In season to spend the
whole of his later years In domestic peace and en-
joyment, and In devotion to those humane and be-
nevolent Interests which were always dear to his
heart. With characteristic modesty he shrank
from observation ; but those who were associated
with him in the American Bible Society, In the
American Seamen's Friend Society, in the Pres-
byterian Hospital, and in other institutions of
Christian kindness and philanthropy, could bear


strong testimony to the weight of his Influence,
his gentle courtesy, and the exemplary fidelity
and zeal with which he fulfilled every trust and
every task assigned him. Only last Tuesday — the
day preceding his fatal Illness — he spent several
hours In the performance of his duties as one of the
managers and a member of the visiting committee
of the Presbyterian Hospital.

His relloflous character followed his natural
traits ; he was a quiet, humble, thoughtful, affec-
tionate disciple of Jesus, an Israelite indeed in
whom was no guile. The gospel was to him a
glorious reality, alike In his own conscious ex-
perience of Its grace, and as the wisdom and power
of God unto salvation to every one who believeth.
While In China he formed an intimate friendship
with Dr. Morrison and other Protestant mission-
aries, and in various ways gave them no little aid
and comfort in their great work. Direct contact
with the darkness of heathenism deepened his con-
victions of the importance and blessed effects of
Christian evangelism ; and both by his liberal
contributions, and his hearty, devout sympathies,
he continued to the last to manifest the liveliest


interest in all movements that looked to the ex-
tension and triumph of the kingdom of God.

Although not, probably, anticipating so sudden
an exit from time, yet various remarks intimated
that the subject of an early departure was in his
thoughts, and that He, who leadeth the blind in a
way that they knew not, had been silently pre-
paring him for the momentous change.* He had
passed an unusually happy summer in his country
home, with wife and children, and children's chil-
dren about him ; he had safely come back again
to these familiar scenes, endeared to him by so many
bright and grateful associations ; he had taken old
friends once more by the hand, and resumed already
his wonted place in the service of Christian char-
ity ; all things conspired to attune his mind and
heart to the very mood in which a good man
mio^ht wish to die ; and so on Sabbath afternoon, in
such a sweet, loving mood, with pleasant words
still echoing from his lips, he stole away from
earth, and was not, for the Lord took him. What

* " I noticed last summer, what seemed to me, devout as he always was,
an unusual fen-ency at family prayers ; — how, at any especially devotional
part of the prayer, referring, perhaps, to the shortness of life or the nearness
of death, or perhaps to the inner life, his voice would rise higher and higher,
he seeming to forget what was about him, and to be thoroughly absorbed in
his intercourse with his Maker." — Extract from Letter of a Friend.


an Inestimable treasure of precious and hallowed
memories he leaves behind to this greatly be-
reaved household, and to all his friends ! And as
for himself, what salth the voice from Heaven ?

1 3

Online LibraryBoston (Mass.)In memoriam. C.N.T. [Charles Nocoll Talbot] November 29, 1874 → online text (page 1 of 3)