William Columbus Ferril.

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don't know, I don't know," he mused, "over there," and he pointed toward
the Canton church yard, " lie the father and mother; heart-broken, they did
not long survive their son, and I am sure I hope they are all now happ}- to-
gether in the country beyond."

The good doctor bowed his head and poked the fire idly with the tongs,
the flames darted lightly up the chimney and lighted his good old strong face
over which the shadows of sad memories seemed to be playing and quietly I
raised the door latch and went silently out so as not to disturb him in his



Since writing the first part a friend tells me that a disastrous fire had a great
deal to do with father's failure, and that some borrowed money had not been
returned, so he started in the old road again and worked like a beaver in Boston
all day, and at night sat behind a heavy screen while my patient mother wrote
to his dictation, on the other side.

He had a haunting fear of blindness and had twice crossed the ocean to
consult European experts for this trouble of the eyes. A bright light was always


kept burning in an adjacent room. Once through the neglect of a servant it was not
trimmed and went out, and at midnight he wakened and an agonized cry rang out
in the startled house, " Mary, Mary, I am blind ! I am blind ! " Thus he pre-
pared four lectures ; the most daring and successful of which was " Ireland and
the Irish." There had been for a long time a growing feeling against the Irish,
superinduced by some unsavor,- reports regarding a convent at Charlestown near
Boston. Nor was this feeling entirely in the lower element but had permeated
the upper classes also. A mob had risen and destroyed much pro])erty belonging
to the Roman Catholic Church, besides burning a large business block, ruining the
houses of the laboring poor and annihilating the small and pitiful holdings of
recent emigrants. It was in the cause of these latter that my father pleaded.

He had traveled in the old, old land, had noted her grand castles, talked with
her sages, looked deep into her rich language and had determined to make a plea
for her people, whom we had ourselves called to us with open arms and cheerful
voice and make their home.

But he was startled, almost dismayed when he beheld the audience gathered
to hear him in Tremont Temple— an audience Daniel \Veb,ster would have valued.
As he took his seat in the rostrum beside the Rev. Dr. Channing, he saw my
mother, who was in one of the front pewg, put her hand twice to her head. He
still retained his high hat.

The moment had arrived. He rose to the introduction of the most Reverend
Doctor, raising his hat as he did so. " Ladies and gentlemen," he said, " I am so
unaccustomed to public speaking that I do not know enough to remove my hat
in your presence. Pardon my awkwardness and hear me for my cause." This
brought him at once in touch with his audience who were pleased with his quick wit.
He carried them with him holding their interest throughout, and as he closed re-
peating one verse of that sad poem,

" The harp that once through Tara's halls,

The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls.

As though that soul were dead."

They gave him generous applause and the papers next day commended his
lecture highly. He delivered it forty times.

I went with him once to some stately old town, riding in style in an elegant
carriage sent for him. Over the pulpit of the old church in which he spoke, hung
what looked like a very heavy cover, and as I watched it I was sure it swayed ; I
was alone in my glory in a little corner pew, in full view. I was about to cry out
to warn him that he would be crushed, when a lady near put her hand upon me as
father rose in safety and as everyone applauded vigorously, I took a hand in and
so got rid of my nervousness.

We stayed with President Someone that night and the ne.xt morning
the gentleman took me to an immense toy factory and gave me my choice
of its contents. I froze at once to a miniature cooking stove with
elaborate paraphanalia, but he persuaded me to choose a very co.stly wax doll.
She was taller than I and a queen — fastened to a pedestal and her crown screwed
on ! When we reached home I begged for it to be removed. Henceforth if she
were especially good she had a night cap for a change. Her name was Amelia.

Just as we started away from our |ileasant \isit at President Blank's in the


carriage, the doll toppled over and gazed out of the window. Father was convulsed
with laughter and a jolly crowd who had gathered to see us off, gave round after
round of cheers. Many years after as father and I were walking on the Rue de
Rivole, Paris, Queen Amelia passed us bowing from her carriage. Memory gave
us a second hearty laugh.

I have said that Mr. Goodrich entered into politics, but after all it was rather
against his will. He di.sliked the fighting spirit it seemed to engender between
the hitherto best of friends. Daniel Webster rebuked him kindly but firmly for
his stand-offish attitude, and bade him use the great rights and privileges of a
rising young American, for until now father had never voted.

This command of the great Daniel brou'ght him to a decision and he was put
to work in the Whig ranks. He was appointed delegate to the Whig convention
to nominate someone to represent the ninth district in congress. On the first
ballot, he was to his surprise, the highest candidate but one — of course he with-
drew. Alexander Everett who had been a conspicious Whig came out for Jackson.
This of course injured his cause, his own publisher, Bowen, being against him.
Father defeated him, without any desire of his own, and Everett, who had been
very friendly towartl him became very bitter. Benjamin F. Hallett, one of his


.su]Jix_)rters and editor of an influential paper in l^oston, attacked father as " Peter
Parle)'," most harshly accusing him of ungentlemanly and dishonorable conduct.

Mr. Goodrich was justly indignant and, strong in his sense of right, hastened
to Mr. Hallett's home and angrily rang the bell. A lovely young girl of ten or
twelve with startled look answered the summons. "Is Mr. Hallett in.'" asked
my father. "Mother," said the girl in a soft voice, " has father come in .' " "No,
dear," replied a gentle lady-like woman who came at her call, " Will you not
step in, sir.'" A curly headed urchin clung to her skirt and as usual with child-
ren, was fascinated by my father's face, stern though it was. He put out a tiny
hand to shake that of the visitor, and with that touch every atom of rancor faded
from my fathers's heart. " So," he said to himself, " this man who seemed to me to
be full of hatred and cruelty has a beautiful home, a loving, tender wife and child-
ren. He cannot be so evil as I deemed him. I will wait," and so saying he left
the house, a wiser and much happier man. Some months later mutual friends
brought them together thinking it a pity two such bright spirits should work at
cross purposes. Mr. Goodrich related the incident to Mr. Hallett who was much
touched, and, with explanations they became good friends.

Most appropriately come in here another typical "Peter Parley " anecdote.

We are in the English Channel on our way to London from Paris. My
mother's relatives, who had ostracised her for years because she married an " im-
pecunious Yankee " had. made the "Amende honorable and invited them to come
and make acquaintance. P"ather who was always for peace, consistent with
conscience, was a mind to accept. The letter urging this said : " Bring the
children," so my brother and I were with them. It was a fine day but a sharp
wind had raised a choppy sea, one which thumped you on one side and then on-
the other, and not leave you a moment of repose between jerks. The worst kind
of a sea to endure. Father who was always a martyr to nausea, without obtain-
ing relief, was prone upon a mattress laid in a shaded corner of the deck. Seeing
how pale and suffering he looked, I wanted to try a remedy, and taking a big book
of illustrations with me I sat down beside him. He could no more resist pictures
than any child. Soon my brother prowling in search of me came into the group
and a few wandering children joined us. We were quite absorbed over the views
for a while and then suddenly I said : " Father tell us a story, a true story."
There was a traveling vehicle of the most stylish appearance, on a small deck ap-
propriated to such, with three men sei"vants, a governess, two saddle horses, and a
couple of rakish ponies. The parents, seasoned travelers, chatted complacently to-
gether, taking no notice of two wan and discouraged little men of si.x and nine years
who did not know what ailed them, but the motion of the carriage added to that
of the boat was harrowing indeed. They had been watching us for some time and
I purposely raised by voice as I asked for a story. " Ma can't we go and hear
it .' " said the smallest boy. She shook her head. Father said, " Emily, go and
invite them to join us," and I, nothing loath, started away, and because I had
never been taught that riches or rank made anyone any better than a simple little
Yankee girl, I went up to the carriage and held out my hand, but withdrawing it
at once I said, "I forgot that you English people do nt)t shake hands unless you are
introduced." I heard my father's amused laugh, and that of the travelers was not
far behind. The boys did not wait for the supercilious servant to help them down,
but clambered out, took m\ hands and running, were soon seated b\' the mat-


tress, while above it was an older audience of which " Peter Parley " was quite
unaware. He began, " Once upon a time," and with a settling down to listen and
a long breath of satisfaction we were ready with an eager look in our eyes which
was his inspiration. " Once upon a time, there was a famous snow storm, famous
because there had never been such an one before and there has never been such an
one since, though in those days they were remarkable for length and depth of fall.
You little English lads have no idea of a snow storm, a few big flakes at most and a
fog eats them up. But it had been storming more and more rapidly for three
days when I started out to carry food to a starving family. They were without
any the day before. I jumped on my pony Bob and with a basket slung about
my shoulders I was off. I knew every path, every tree, almost every branch, but
by this time the whole world was a dazzling white though it was so dark benerith the


heavily laden trees that I had at times to feel along the great trunks to find the
deep cuts or " blazes " made by an axe to guide travelers. The snow was already
two feet deep and the cart path quite obliterated " — " Wot is ' bliterated f ' " asked
the smallest boy. " Right you are, my lad. It is your privilege to ask questions
and there is one who will never refuse to answer them and he is your friend P. P.
It means ' rubbed out,' nothing left of it.

" I kept steadily on with no thought that I might turn back, tho' at times the
lonely little traveler was almost buried by the white masses which the wind tossed
from the overhanging branches, and it was growing piercingly cold. Suddenly
there was a rush, a roar, a blinding, whirling mass enveloped us that knocked me
from Bob, but I clung to the basket still. Gasping, trembling, we struggled up to
find we had wandered from the path and our way was blocked all about by an


avalanche fallen from above. I was in despair. Never before had I known what help-
lessness, loneliness and desolation meant. But I was trained to quick thought and
set about getting out of our snow prison, though the wind ])iled the drift higher
and higher, faster and faster and we made no headway.

"Just then a strong hand grasped Bob's bridle and the collar of my coat, and
with a wrench and a twist we were freed by ' Old Witch Sarah,' the weird hermitess
of the mountain. Now my children there is no such thing as a witch. A name
is fastened on some poor creature whose face is marred, whose reason is broken by
sorrow. Let us beware how we fix upon anyone so harsh and cruel a name.

" Sarah, by main effort dragged us into a sheltered spot, and while I was
trying to get back my breath, she fed Bob a loaf of bread, bathed his forehead and
lips with snow water until he was some what restored from his exhaustion.

" ' Go back, boy,' she said, 'to your sheltered home and thank God )-ou are not
without one ; also that Witch Sarah has saved you from a snowy grave. Hasten
for you can go no further. Turn about while you may. In an hour disaster and
death will be abroad in the forest.'

" The pony picked up his courage and his feet together and in three laborious
hours — as the wind was now with us — we reached home, where they were begin-
ning to be greatly alarmed, and this is the tale of the historic storm of 1807." As
he closed the parents of the'boys at once introduced themselves and urged father to
use their carriage to our hotel. He did not accept this most generous offer but did
enjoy a glass of most excellent port wine from their elaborate medicine chest
which was built under the front and back seats of the carriage. This was divided
into compartments with silver boxes and crests and cut glass bottles with mono-
grams and every drug useful or otherwise known to man.

" Yours is elegant but I think ours is more convenient,'* I said, "show it to
them please, father." He laughed and touched a strap across his shoulder hold-
ing a morocco wallet of about a foot long and three inches high inside of which
was a tin box with a cover on hinges. There were five parts within. In one,
gum camphor, in a second, rhubarb, third guaicum, fourth sol-volatile and fifth
laudanum. These were balanced by a traveling flask of brandy. " And with
these,'' said by father, " I can circumnavigate the globe."

A rare evening was arranged for us in Florence, Italy, when Mr. Goodrich
and his family was passing a winter there. It was planned by Charles Lever, the
clever Irish author at Casa Guidi. Mr. Browning brought his invalid wife into the
drawing room and placed her in her own peculiar chair. There were gathered
there the Storys, Gibson and Powers the sculptors, both Tennysons — and I liked
Frederic best, who has just died, — James Russell Lowell, Lamertine, Longfellow
and Buchanan Read and family, Trollope and others. Father was seated on a has-
sock with two ranges of children about him — and many of a larger growth around
the room. He was to tell them stories, and they wanted to know particularl)-
about himself. So he told these pe(jple — many of them Flnglish — of his going to
fight when Tryon burned Danbury and had appeared with his fleet off New Haven
during the revolution. How one night he was sentinel and a movement in the thick
brush near him caused him to challenge. No answer. ' "Who goes there.' Ad-
vance and give the countersign, or I fire,' and I did. Great excitement. We


heard calvary retreating — it was a disgusted cow witli her calf galloping down
the road."

He told them how hard he had worked to reach his present position in
letters as the veritable and only Peter Parley and a sanctimonious fraud, an Eng-
lishman by name of " Old Mogridge" was writing unwholesome books for children
under his name, mak-
ing thousands of il-
legal dollars thereby
to the detriment of
father's purse. We
closed with an hour
of social enjoyment
and left early as Mrs.
Browning was an in-
valid. This evening
was long talked of in

After our return
to our summer home
at Courbevoir, near
Paris, a shattered
man enfeebled b y
grief came to our door.
It was the poet-
painter, Buchanan burhl lot at solthburv.

Read, who had left his tin)' wife and child in a cholera grave at Rome. We took
him in and comforted him.

We were in America and heard her sing, when Jenny Lind made her
debut at Castle Garden. Never had I seen my father so disappointed. He told
Barnum that he did not consider her a prima donna; that she had little presence,
not much magnetism and her appearance was anything but striking. Barnum
winked and said, " So .' "

A sad event occurred when we were spending a few days at Fire Island.
There came a night when there was a fearful storm and a ship in dire distress
was firing signals. The ne.xt morning it was learned that Margaret Fuller Ossoli
and her husband and child had sunk to a watery grave.

"It was awful, sir," said one of the wrecked sailors talking to my father the
ne.xt day, "awful indeed. They could all have been saved if Mme. Ossoli would
have cast off her heavy garments, but she did not and so carried the young and
loyal husband down with her, and between them they carried that pretty bairn."
At the beginning of the second year of Mr. Fillmore's incumbency we were in
Paris and Mr. Goodrich consul. Never was there a more acceptable one. He
had keen foresight, sagacity, quick wit, suavity, authority when needed and a
most friendly and sympathetic soul. All these talents he used for the benefit of
his countrymen and when he was superceded, great was the regret.

A medallion of himself by Adam Salomon, a famous sculptor, was presented
him, of the size of a large dinner plate of silver triple gilt and elegantly framed.
A petition to retain him signed by two hundred and fifty French and American


merchants was sent to the United States in vain. During his consulate, Henr)-
Shelton Sanford, who was United States attache at Paris, found my father a staying
power. Sanford was stiff, unyielding and his countrymen feared to ask favors of
him. He was born in the " Hollow " in ancient Woodbury, in a little house where
was manufactured the tinware for all the neighboring towns and here were found
the supplies for the calithumpian serenades for half the county.

During all our years abroad my parents had many young people under their
fostering care. I mention but two of them. Elsie Henslee the protegee of many
Boston gentlemen, who .studied music at the Paris " Conservatoire," became a
prima donna, and married the then King of Portugal, and is now, if I mistake not,
the Countess Elda, much beloved and admired at Lisbon, where she is now one of
the court favorites. The second was Rosalie Benedict, only daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. Abner Benedict of New 'York. The\' brought her
over and placed her in school, where after they left, my mother found
the girl ill with nostaglia. She at once brought her to our home. I shared m\-
pretty room with her and we were a happy pair, until one fall day, when the news
came of the awful disaster to the "Artie," in which her parents had sailed. It
became my painful lot to break to her the tidings of her double loss. Some fiend
had sent her a package of newspaper cuttings in which it was told that the last
seen of her parents, they were on their knees on a raft and the sharks clambering
over the sides. I held her close to my heart for three days and thus saved her
from insanitv, but among the many sore hurts of my life, this one stands pre-

Our family returned to the United States when the first break in the house-
hold began The children scattered to different homes. Then my father decided
to give up the New York house and bought a quaint old brick mansion at South-
bury, Conn., which he improved and beautified to his heart's content.

At this time his mind was full of a great work he was preparing, a natural
history in two large volumes, in which the engravings alone cost thousands of
dollars. He rode on his bay mare through woods and over streams for two sum-
mers, studying every animal or insect with which he came in contact. He was
called " the old gentleman " for twenty miles around and at every lane and by-way
he was known and loved. Women brought him cookies and milk, and he enjoyed
them in the shade by their doors, and the children hunted bugs and birds for
him to study, to which he was giving up the last years of his life. This work was a
most arduous one and he overtaxed his strength bringing back the old distressed
turns of his early manhood. The book was dedicated to Agassiz, who himself
commended it as a most rare and exhaustive work — the best work of a great

The quiet people of the little village of Southbury had rather dreaded the
coming of a city family to their midst, but they had learned one and all to value
him as a neighbor and friend, and when one day in May, i860, the stage driver
came up the street calling out " Mr. Goodrich is dead, Mr. Goodrich is dead in
New York," there was mourning indeed ; but it was only too true. He had gone
down to the city Monday on business and on Wednesday had passed away while
quietly talking with my brother in his home. Most of the family were at

Stern as was hc:i\en's decree in thus calling him from us, we did not repine..


He had died in his full vigor of mind, all in a moment as he had often wished.
With that sad Civil War coming on he would have been heartbroken, for he
dearly loved the Union, and was himself greatly beloxed in the South, where his
books were in general use.

His remains were borne to St. Bartholomew's Church in the city where services
were held, and he lay for twenty-four hours while sad crowds passed about hin\
General Di.x, the publishers Appleton, Derby, Goupil, and many friends were his
pill bearers. The " Marble Cemetery " offered us a lot, but he had elected tolie in
" God's Acre " where the sun shines and where the rain falls upon the gras.sy
mound. Mr. Hoey, president of Adams Express Company had the body rever-
ently and tenderly borne to his Southbury home free of charge and on Sunday
the 13th of May, we laid him at rest. Crowds had been gathering, churches were
closed for twenty miles away — on the sloping hill-sides in front of the house were
waiting masses who had come to pay their last tribute to a great man, known the
world over as the "Children's Teacher and Friend." After short services at the
house, friendly farmers and neighbors took up the casket. Everyone had taken
a last sad look at that clear cut face with the color still in the cheeks and the lips
as though ready to speak. Children led the way to the adjacent village cemetery,
strewing flowers and singing as they moved. For the last time I took my
brother's arm, the brother who has been with me through every page. Oh ye,
who are blessed with this relationship, cherish it in \our heart. There is none
morej generous, more lasting, more true.

The season was advanced and the " blossom wind " was shedding the petals
from the apple orchard 'neath which we passed — the casket was covered with the
rose colored down fall. In a lot above the side hill in full view of the main street,
all the mortal remains of the Hon. Samuel Griswold Goodrich were laid. Sunrise
and sunset alike glow over the mound. Stately robins seem watching there.
Wild vines and blossoms trail across the lot, and he is surrounded by nature's
freedom, which he loved. And there we bade him adieu.

His faithful wife, Mary Hoott Goodrich, of London, England, was buried
near him in 1868.

A simple slab of Italian marble marks his resting place, name and date,
without eulogy, but a dog-eared book is a speaking emblem of his life work.



About a half century ago the old fashioned almanac, such as was known to
our ancestors, was largely pushed" aside by the more ambitious advertising
almaiiac whose reason for being was to make known the unrivaled virtues of
somebody's bitters or pills. This in turn has been superceded by the ever pres-
ent calendar which now greets the eye with the unrivaled advantages of some
life or fire insurance company.

In former times the almanac occupied an important and conspicuous
position in the household economy. Hanging in its accustomed place beside
the great fireplace the margins of its pages were most convenient for jotting
down miscellaneous notes and memoranda, and with such they are often filled.
Household receipts, the text of Sunday's sermon, when the sheep were turned

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 42 of 46)