John Wallace Hutchinson.

Story of the Hutchinsons (tribe of Jesse) (Volume 2) online

. (page 25 of 36)
Online LibraryJohn Wallace HutchinsonStory of the Hutchinsons (tribe of Jesse) (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

things" — Avas my motto. AVe AA'cre always agreed
on this point. Judson, for instance, Avas usually satisfied



avIr'H a iliiiiLi' was well done, "williout seeking for perfec-
tion, and when I snggested that we try it once more,
M'ould ahruptly tnrn on his heel and leave the room.

For many years we sung to the music of two violins
and a Niolonctdlo. AVe sought to have Abhy use a gui-
tar, and slie did so to some extent. In my owii com-
pany Henry often accompanied himself beautifully
with this instrument. Sometimes in otir cai-riage, as
we rode along we woitld sing, she or he thrumming* the
chords on the guitar.

In })laying, Jttdson always kept the air, and I played
second violin to him. In early times we interspersed

orchestral selections, but
were advised to give it
up, as it did not seem to
really add to oitr concerts.
In those days, one of ottr
sterling selections Avas
" The Maniac." It did a
great deal to make a sen-
sation and help us. I bought this song in Boston in
1841. as I have elsewhere said. It was a cantata, but
I sung it alone to the accompaniment of the brothers.
Judson and Asa wotild connnence a prehtde. j\Iean-
wliile, I Avould be in my cliair l)ehiiid them, with the
fingers of each hand raising the hair on my head, and
bringing it over in partial dishevelment. Then I Avould
rise, with the ex})ression of vacancy inseparable from
mania, and commence :

"Ilu.-ili! 'tis tlie nij,'-lit watcli, lio yi'Mnts iii_\' lonely cell;
Ihisli! 'tis the night watch, Ik^ guards my louuly ct-U ; —
'Tis the nigiit watch,

He comes, lie comes this wa\-,

His glimmering lamp I see —
Softly! — he coined!

Hush! Hu.-U! Hush!"


Tliis A\()iild be accompanied witli appropriate ges-
tures. Then, addressing tlie imaginary guard in most
pite(tus tones, I would continue:

" No, by Heaven, I am not mail !
< Ml, release nie ! Oh, iX'lcasL' me!
No, by Heaven, I am not mad.

I loved luT sineerel\',

I lovi'd Ikt too dearly.

In sorrow and pain.
(>li, this poor heart is broken.

Hush ! T luar thf mitsic in the hall —
I see ln-r <laneinu' — she heeds me not, —
JSu, bii Ileuren .' I am not mad ! "

And so the song wouhl go on, to the conclusion. I
presume the critics were correct in saying it froze their

In the course of time I introduced the melodeon
which was for so long a familiar sight in all our con-
certs. I saAV this Prince melodeon, made at Buifalo, in
a music store in Springtield. I at once concluded it
was just Avhat I wanted. We liad of course seen the
ancient style of melodeon, made to rest on a table or in
one's Lap, with round keys, the size and general appear-
ance of those of a ty[)ewriter. The bellows were
worked like an accordiaii, pressing down on the key-
board, with a "Rock me to Sleep, ]\[othcr" motion.
The Springfield melodeon had a keyboard of the regu-
lar pattern, and rested on legs with pedals. One mis-
creant paper called it a '•• washing machine." The boys
thought this instrument an innovation, and gave it a
cold welcome. Abby A\'as sure she never could sing
with it. She loved the accompaniment on the viols.
Of course none of us knew how to play the new


instninieiit. So I iiuule no attempt to use it in any
of oui" concerted pieces. l)nt at first bron^'lit it in for
an acconi[)animent to my own soiii^-, " ]\Ian tlie Life-
l)oat," o-ettinsf an imitation of the sinkiny- of the ves-
sel and the I'oaring of the waters that A\'as very effec-
tive. In time, wlien I got used to phiying it, the
o1)iections to the instrnment on tlie part of the others

AVe made np our programme, a miscellaneous one,
from the best sono's from livnui hooks and sono- Ijooks,
and utilized anything tliat came in our })atli. If we
heard a sonof and liked it, we would lind a Avav to
get hold of it for ourselves. I was the only one of the
family that ever heard the Kanier family sing. It was
at a concert they gave in Lynn, and I A\as over-
whelmed, though of course I could not understand
their words. Ditson soon published their songs, with
English words, and of course I rememl)ered their Ty-
rolean style of singing, and taught the rest how to sing
them as the Raniers did. We would give two of these
songs in a programme. "The (irave of ]>onaparte"
was a song that became very i)Opular. 'J'here was
great good feeling toward France in this country, and
tlie song was always well received. Then yve had
what was called "The Snow Storm,"" tlie words from
one of our school reading books. Lyman Ileatli, a
Xaslnia nnisic teacher, contributed some songs. Once I
let him have " Lingen on the Lliine,"' and in rettirn he
gave US "The Dying Child." AVitliin two monilis of
wi'iting this. T have met his sistei' and niece here in
Lynn. Then Ave had a humorous song, " A Trip to
Cape Ann." One of our liumoi'ous pieces A\as " Mat-
rimonial Sweets,''' ^^•hich I usually sang alone, taking
both parts alternately, one in falsetto. 1 taught Abl)v


to sing one part, and it used to cause great merriment,
sung as a duet. Then we sang '^ The Land of Our
Fathers,"' and we opened our concerts for years with
" The Cot where We were Born."

We found it ])etter. in tlie course of time, to set
songs to our f)wn music. Tlie lirst song that we pul)-
lishcd was one that we got out of an old school leader,
'' The Vulture of the Alps." This Judson set to music,
and we })ublished it in Albany, Luke F. Newland be-
coming our first publisher. I can rememl^er just how it
looked in his store window, the outside containing a
picture of a vulture with a child in its talons. About
t^^■o years fi'om this time Jesse came up fi'om Lyiui to
Milford. We liad a family gathering at the old home-
stead. He had the words in manuscript of " Tlie Old
Granite State." This we sung together for the first
time in tlie old southwest room of the house, whicli ^ye
called the bar-room. The house was once a hotel, and
the bar was located in tliis place. In our early days
teamsters coming from Peleiboio continued their liabit
of stop[)ing at the place, and father would put up their
horses and caie for their wants. Solely for their ac-
commodation, he kept in a side cu})l)oard some spirit, gin
and rum. In the cellar we usually kept one hundred
barrels or so of cider. Everybody drank cider then,
a!id in those days hard liquors were considered indis-
pensable in haying. I remenil)er father made a con-
tract at one time to pay a man a big silver dollar a da}-
and furnish him a })int of rum daily, for haying. The
rum was mixed Avith molasses, placed under a bush, and
as the mowers came round tlie field to it, they would
take a drink.

To I'eturn to the '* Old Granite State." Jesse sang
the solo and Ave came in on the refrain. Tlie sono-


seemed the essence of egotism to tis, and Ave wondered
that Je&se could have written it. We could not con-
ceive that the public cared an3^thing about the Hutch-
inson family names. But the fact was, Jesse saw bet-
ter than we, that this song would make a hit, and we
saw it too, after singing it once or twice. By the time
we had sun^f it throuo-h Gi-eat Britain, we had ceased to
think of it in the light of egotism. The song was
somewhat changed by the addition of new verses on
our trip to England, and as time wore on and condi-
tions changed politically, other verses were modified
and I added some to it. The song as it has been sung
for many years is as follows :

AVe have come from tlie mountains.
We've come down from the mountains,
Ho, we've come from the mountains,
Of the Old Granite State.

We're a band of brothers.
We're a band of brotliers,
AVe're a band of brothers,
And we live among the hills.

We have left our aged parents,
We have left our aged parents,
We have left our aged parents.
In the Old Granite State.

We obtained their blessing,
We obtained their blessing.
We obtained their blessing.
And we bless them in return.

We had ten other brothers,
And of sisters just another.
Besides our father and our mother,
In the < >ld Granite State.

With our present number,
With our present number,
Witli f)ur ]iresent number

There are tliirteen in tlu' tribe.


We're the tribe of Jesse,
We're the trilie of Jesse,
We're the tribe of Jesse,

And our several names we'll sing.

David, Noah, ^Vndrt'w, Zi'iiliy, Caleb, Josluia, Jesse, Benny,
Judson, Khoda, .loiin and Asa and Abby are our names ;

AVe're the sons of Mary, of the tribe of Jesse,

And We mnv address } ou iu our native mountain song.

Hail! ye noble sons and daughters.
Hail ! ye noble sons and daugliters,
Hail! ye noljle sons and daughters,
Cif the Old Bay State ;

Here's a friendly greeting.
Here's a friendly greeting,
Here's a friendly greeting

From New Hani])shire's granite hills.

We are all real Yankees,
We are all real Yankees,
Real native Hampshire Yankees,
From the ( )ld Granite State.
And by prudent guessing.
And by prudent guessing.
And by priident guessing,

We shall whittle through the world.

We're the friends of emaneipation.
And we'll sing the proclamation
Till it eelioes through the nation
From the old Ciranite State.
Tliat the tribe of Jesse,
That the tribe of Jesse,
That the tribe of Jesse

Are the friends of e(iual rights.

Party threats are not alarming,
For when music ceases cliarining,
AA'e can earn our bread at farming
In the Old Granite State.

We're a band of farmers,
We're a band of farmers.
We're a band of farmers,
And we l(jve to till the soil


(»li, \\v love tlie roL-ks Mini iiiountains.
Oh, we love the rocks and HKimitaiii-,
Oh, we lovi' the rocks and mountains
Of the Old (iranite State.
I'ointing np to heaven,
Pointing u]> to lieaven,
I'ointing \\\) to heaven,

They are lieaeon lights to man

And we hive our glorious nation.
Holding firm its lofty station,
'i'is the pride of all ei'eation.
And our hanner is unfurleil.
Men should love each other.
Nor let hatred smother,
Every man's a brotlier,

And our country is the world.

We have labored for oiu* nation.
For its life and preservation ;
And we've sung for emancipation
Since the good old days of yore.
But our warfare soon is endeil.
Human rights are well defended,
And our voices, once more blended,
Shout " Free Suffrage " evermore.

Yes, the gooil time's drawing nigher,
And our nation, tried by fire,
Shall proclaim the good Messiah,
Second coming of the Lord.
Heart anil hand together,
Every friend and neighbor,
Let us live ami labor

For the good of all mankind.

Now, farewell, friends ami brothi'rs^
Fathers, sons, sisters, mothers,
Lynn i)eoi)le and all others,
Li the land we love the best ;
May the choicest blessings.
May the choicest 1)lessings,
And may Heaven's blessings
Ever rest uium you all.

a:mei;r'an songs. 301

While the song \\as written to be sung- by tlie (|iiai -
tet, it was Jesse's ambition to liave tlie whole family of
chilch-eii appear together. He wanted us all to be
united in music. I sympathized with this, and depre-
cated anythinp- sugfo-estino- trading' or biekerinof be-
tween one another.

Whenever we found in the papers or liad given us
anything effective or beautiful in the way of poetry,
we would pin it up on a bedp(jst or side of the house,
and start in on a tune, each one making up his own
part. Judson usually took the air, and so in a sense
became the composer of the tune. We liave often
made our songs and sung tliem in publir. without ever
liaving seen a n(jte. In this way Ave com})osed " Tlie
Ttood Old Days of Yore,"' " The IJridge of Sighs," and
other well-known songs, which were really composed
by "The Hutchinsons" it being impossible to say that
either of the quartet Avas the actual composer. Joslma
Avrote a tune for Caleb's song, "The Millennium," but in
one of his liallucinations Judson Avrote another to
which it was ever afterAvards sung. Caleb AA-as in the
field Avhen this song came to him. He stopped, his
plough, took out his pencil, and Avrote it out. Judson
also Avrote the tune of "If I Avere a Voice," "Mrs.
Lofty and I,"' " Jordan," and" other songs. Asa com-
posed the music of many AAorthy songs, among them
*•• Hannah's at the WindoAV, IJinding Shoes," '' Creed of
the Bells," " Stranger on the Sill," '' Topsy," and others.
He seemed to have no ability to put verses together, l)ut
perhaps this Avas simply l)ecause he never tried. " Neces-
sity," '• the mother of invention " led to my first efforts
in this line. The necessity did not exist in Asa's case.
Abl)v composed the music for "' Ring Out Wild Bells,'' a
favorite among the Hutchinson S(jngs, and •• Kind Words

802 TiiK iirTcniNsoN family.

can Never T^ic" This latter slie sold to me for ten dol-
lars, not tliinkinL^' ntttcli of it. I gave it to anittsic teacher
for publit-ation, and he without my kno^vledg■e put it
into a Sunday-School singing-book. It therefore never
brought me in much money, but it brought .Abby fame,
being in great demand for many years.

I have attem|)ted nothing like a catalogue of the
songs and music of my own composition. Incidentally
I have oiven the historv of some of them. To add that


of the others would enlarge the A'olume beyond the
scope originally contemplated and })erhaps weary tlie
reader. I liave l)een publishing songs for fifty years
and their contiinial production on the concert platform
has given them a large sale.

During my fifty-three years of publie lif e, I have given
some eleven thousand concerts, and that, as the reader
l)y this time has learned, does not by any means cover
the measure of my pttljlic activity. Looking back over
it all, I can see jilaces where it Avould have been to my
advantage to have vai-ied my cotirse, and thus have in-
creased my wealtli and })cr]ia})s u\y popularity. But
take it all in all. there is little tliat I Mould liave
f>ther\\ise. My })i'rsonal defeats liave sometimes helped
the cause for Avhich I labored and so Avere not in

A leading paper of Gotham, a short time before the
death of Abby, pi'inted a connuunication signed "J.
F. D.," as the result of an interview Avith my sistei',
AAdiich is interestino- as shedding light on some exi^e-
liences I hive mentioned in other portions of this
history :

S(niH Oi.i) FiiiiCNDs. — A\'li;it tcinlir iiml stirriiii^ ntlertions of aiiti-
slavcrv (lays must 1)1" awakt'iiod in tlio iniiiinrio (it the vt'tcrans of the
struggle for emancipation by the mention of the " Hutchinson Family,"

A:\rEnicAX songs. 303

that tuneful band wliose sweet, natural liarnionies were early inspireil
and strenutliened by tlie abolition sentiment, and wliosi- bold advocacy
of the cause made their old-time concerts sucli interesting ami even ex-
citing occasions. 'i'luy were genuine cliildren of the rugged New
Hampshire soil on whicli tlu'V were horn, and endoweil as they w'ere by
kindly Nature witli sensitive musical organizations and str(jng, simple
characters, tliey brought into tlie atmospliere of the concert room of
their day a freslmess and native sweetness of meloily and motive which
won a way for them, at once, to the popular heart. They literally made
and sang the ballads of a people — the anti-slavery jieople of the Ncjrth ;
for, besides sinning tlie fervent lyrics of Whittier and the impassioned
words of Garrison, tliey composed, often, verses and songs of their own,
and set everything to melodies that charmed, touched or roused their
hearers to symi)athy and action. No convention of "the faithful" in
Boston, New York or Philadelphia was quite complete without the pres-
ence of the tuneful choir, four brothers and a sister, whose aid was al-
ways valuable, and sometimes indispensable. Their tour of Great
Britain was so successful that, after a yi'ar sjtent in the necessary task
of conquering Englisli cohhu'ss and insular apathy, tliey were advised
that another twelvemonth tiiere would bring them lasting fame and a
fortune. It is an imlieatiou of tlu' simplicity of their tastes, and tlieir
love of home and country, tluit tliey tui-ncd their backs on the brilliant
pr<)si)ect, because they longed for a -iglit of their own land and the old,
familiar faces.

Of the original singers there remain now but two survivors — Mr.
John W. Hutchinson and the young girl of the family, once known as
Abby Hutchinson, who retains in middle life all the cluirm of manner
and the attractiveness whicli marked her golden 3'outli. Time has
touched her so lightly that it is easy to understand her former popular-
ity, and to comprehend the determination of her brothers to add her
presence to the attractions of the band, when, having won a reluctant
consent from their parents that " Sis " sjiould come to Boston and take
part in one of their coiu-erts, tliey kejit lii'r with them to the end of her
professional career as the bright star of the com]iany. Sitting in a cir-
cle of favored friends at lur pleasant fireside, not long since, it was tlie
jtrivilege of the writer to hear from her own li]is some of her experi-
ences and those of her brothers in the United States and in England,
and to examine the autograjili letters and familiar epistles of Phillijis,
Garrison, Harriet Martineau and others, whose parts in the great strug-
gle are now a portion of history. Sometimes the admirers of the
Hutchinsons had reason to be concerned for the personal safety of tlieir
favorites. Once, in Nc w York City, they were warned that to sing a
certain song would cause a riot, and when the singers expressed their
determination to sing it, ri(;t or no riot, the friends felt it tlieir dut\- to


bo on liaml in lioodly iiuihIhts for protc'ctivc- ]iur]iosus ; anil a nunibur
of ladies stationed tlinuselves in front of tlic aiulimco to hus^tle " little
Al)by" out of liann's way if necessary. Happily, and to everybody's
ijiu-prise, tliis particular selection was rapturously received by a large
audience, aiul everytbing went on tliat nigbt particularly well.

During the foreign tour of tlie family they won tlie adnuration of
many distinguished people. In London Mrs. Charles Dickens became
tlicir friend, and invited tliem on one occasion to make a nu)rning call
at her bouse for the express purpose of singing to her father, "NVilliam
Hogarth, vviio was a musical critic of considerable repute and influence.
When the Hutcliinsons arrived at the house on the appointed morning,
and were introduced to a i)articularly cold and very serious old gt-ntle-
inan who seated himself stiffly at the farther end of the room, evidently
prepared for the worst, their hearts quite nusgave them. Without
much reflection they struck up the " Ohio Boatman's Song," and went
through it so successfully that the stern censor at the other end of tlie
parlor literally flew to shake them, individually, by the hand, and to as-
sure them he bad never before listened to such delicious liarmony.
With John Eriglit and bis sister, Esther, the Hutcliinsons were on very
cordial terms; and among their souvenirs of English friends hardily one
is more interesting than a letter from him, written in the House of Coiii-
mons, conveying to Esther, in words of simplest import, the fate of that
great bill which every student of tlie history of English reform must
identify with the life history of Richard Cobden and John Bright. He
says " The corn bill has just received the royal assent," and goes on to
suggest to this dear confidant, in words fit, thougli few, the meaning of
this event to him.

It is to be hoped that the story of tlie travels and experiences of the
Hutchinson family may be told some day in a form that shall be per-
manent. Certainly, it might be made a very interesting memorial of
some stirriujA' days now long past, while as a contribution to tlie his-
tory of tlie anti-slavery struggle it could liardly fail to possess great

Of the original quartet Jiulson had a naturally high
voice, a [lure tenor. ^ly voice Avas a baritone, though
I sang- falsetto easily, and Asa had a deep bass. Ahbv
liad an old-fashioned '"counter"' or contralto voice.
The result was an effect like that of a male «[uartet,
Abl)y's part l)eiug lirst tenor, Judson's second tenor,
mine first and Asa's second bass, respectively. But Ave
practised an interchange of parts as we sang, and the


bleiKling- of the voices was so perfect tliat it seemed
quite impossible for the audience to disting-uish the
several parts. We were often told that such har-
moiiv had never been attained in a lifetime, if ever

Our concert manners Avere always a source of com-
ment an<l sometimes of t-riticism. Tl^ey interested our
English friends particularly, and doubtless they thouglit
characteristics peculiar to tlie family to be common to
all .Vmericans. At various times Ave Avore concert
suits <»f our own design, Avhich Avere quite different
from those ordinarily seen on tlie platform. I liave
endeavored to secure pictures of the group at various
times Avhich Avill illustrate this. In the course of time
our costumes settled doAvn to the conventional "SAvalloAV-
tail," Avith only tlie Avide liyron collar to specially dis-
tinguish us from tlie oi'dinary singer. I have already
said that our long hair and beards were simply the
result of a habit formed in the early '40*s, Avhen the
style Avas fashionable. We never dropped it, that Avas

Some of our friends AVere trou])led because Ave did
not cOA^er our hands in the concert room. To aid us in
remedying the difficulty they purchased gloves and
Ave obediently sought to accustom ourselves to the ucav
departui'c bv putting them on one bright day and goii;g
into the Avoods to see if they litted and corresj^ondcd
AAdth Nature. We Avere so ashamed of them that Ave
Avould take them off Avhenever Ave came in sight of any
person. CiloA'es did not seem to be correct adornments
to horny-handed sons of toil like ourselves, and avq
simply A'etoed them. Then our friends tried to com-
promise by haA-ing ^Vbby Avear them, any Avay. We
sternh' refused.


Of course music \\as in no sense a novelty with us,
for it was our natuiul atmosphere, liut our h)ve of the
art was so great that we never tired of it. Early in our
ex[)erience we were taught by the example of father and
mother the value of a full chest tone, and whole-souled,
hearty singing. Neither of our ])arents were Avhat were
termed ready readers of music hy note. I have never
placed miu'h stress on the i)osition of the mouth or
facial organs in singing, but think the manner of pro-
ducing the })roper tone of great importance. I do not
think anv }»erson should attem[)t to teach who has not
the perfect mastery of the technique of the art of voice
production and a good luitural voice.

I do not thirds I have related an anecdote of the days
of the trio of brothers which illustrates the enthusiasm
always caused by our singing. We were at Homer,
N. Y. Henry Ward Iieecher had travelled Avith us all
day. He was to lecture, and by invitation we were to
sing. Asa was not there, but at the close of the lecture
Judson and I, Avith melodeon accompaniment, shouted
out Jesse's '^ Farmer's Song." The audience roared
with delight and demanded a re})etition. Then Ave
sang the "Farmyard Chorus."" In response to encores
we sang one or two more selections. We stepped down
and Avent to our hotel. Soon Beechei- come in. "• There,""
said he, in mock vexation, '' you'll never see me appear-
ing Avith the Hutchinsons again I As I came out of the
church I heard a l)oy say: ' Fd give more for one of
those songs than forty of those lectures.' ""

In 1858 the three brothers were at a big abolition
meeting in New York, at which Sunnier, Wilson, Theo-
dore Parker and others spoke. We had sung a song
Avhich caused the greatest enthusiasm, and as we juissed
to our seats, Parker, who by the Avay Avas partially bald.


said : " How do you manag'e to keep tlie hair on your
lieads?" "By singing other people's thoughts,'' was
my reply.

In IHJS^, while Abljy, Asa and I were in Washington,
at the home of Miss Hansom, who gave us a reception,
Dr. Bliss, one of President Garfield's pliysicians during
liis memoral)le struggle for life after his shooting by
Guiteau, tolcl me a story of our early days in the West.
Judson and I were singing in Michigan. Dr. Bliss came
to us on one occasion and engaged us to go to his town,

Online LibraryJohn Wallace HutchinsonStory of the Hutchinsons (tribe of Jesse) (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 36)