Joseph Palmer.

Necrology of alumni of Harvard college, 1851-52 to 1862-63 online

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years the leading commissioner of the Board of Currency, an
institution which has been eminently serviceable in guarding
and regulating the banking system. He possessed a thorough
knowledge of the system of banking, and was the author of
many of those reforms which have given so much stability and
such a high character to the currency of the state of Louisiana.
He was also attorney-general and assistant-justice of the Su
preme Court of the state ; which last position he resigned to
enter on a somewhat lengthened tour in Europe. He was a
leading member, as a conservative democrat, of the convention
for amending the state constitution, in 1845 ; and became the
chief-justice of the Supreme Court as it was remodelled by
that instrument. During his term of office he performed
much mental labor, with great success. He was indefati
gable, and possessed an admirable method, and great command
of his resources. His judicial decisions were marked by a
clearness of style and logic, and a thorough acquaintance with
law, which made them compare favorably with the best to be
found in the English or American reports. After the adoption,
in 1852, of the present constitution of the state, which provides
for popular election of the judiciary, he retired from public
life being utterly opposed to the election of judges by the
people to resume his practice at the bar ; which he did under
flattering circumstances.

To his great professional learning he united an extensive

18o8-39.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 257

acquaintance with English, French, and Spanish literature ; and
was esteemed by his large circle of friends as a most entertain
ing and instructive companion ; and, if his conversation was
occasionally dashed with sarcasm, it was often replete with
genuine humor and racy wit. He was incorruptibly honest, a
high-minded gentleman, a virtuous citizen, and an excellent
man. He was naturally of a vigorous, mental, and physical
constitution, maintained by habits of out-door exercise. In
1849, the honorary degree of doctor of laws was conferred
upon him by Harvard College.

He married, in 1825, Clarissa Allain, of Louisiana, by whom
he had six children, four sons and two daughters; one of
whom, the Hon. George Eustis, jun., was for several years
the representative in Congress from the First Congressional Dis
trict of Louisiana. His wife survives him.

1816. WILLIAM JOHX ALDEN BRADFORD died at sea, of
Chagres fever, on the passage from Central America to New
York, 28 November, 1858, aged 61 years. He was the oldest
son of Hon. Alden (H.C. 1786) and Margaret (Stevenson)
Bradford, and was born in Wiscasset, Me., 19 November, 1797.
His father was born in Duxbury, Mass., 19 May, 1765; was
ordained minister of Pownalborough (now Wiscasset), Me.,
14 November, 1793 ; was dismissed 21 September, 1801 ; relin
quished the ministry, removed to Boston, and was clerk of
the Supreme Court. He afterwards engaged in the book-trade
as a partner of the firm of Bradford and liead. Leaving trade
for politics, he was secretary of state from 1812 to 1824. He
published a history of Massachusetts from 1760 to 1820, and
several other valuable works. He died 26 October, 1843, aged
78 years. The mother of this notice was daughter of Thomas
and Isabel Stevenson, of Boston. He was fitted for college
principally at Exeter (N.H.) Academy, but completed his pre
paratory studies at the public Latin School in Boston. After
leaving college, he studied law under the instruction of Hon.
James Savage, of Boston, (H.C. 1803), and practised his pro
fession in Essex and New Bedford. He subsequently went to
Iowa, and practised in Dubuque some ten or twelve years, where



he was for some time district-attorney. He afterwards returned
to Massachusetts ; was a clerk in the United-States Branch Bank
in Boston ; but, finding that the confinement was injurious to his
health, he resigned his situation, resumed the practice of the law,
and acted as a justice in Charlestown, Mass., two or three years.
He then went to Central America, intending, if he liked the
country, to settle there : but, it not meeting his expectations, he
concluded to return to the United States ; and on the voyage
home he was seized with the fever which proved fatal, and he
was buried at sea. He was never married.

1816. AUGUSTUS THORNDIKE died in Boston, 25 Novem
ber, 1858, aged 61. He was son of Hon. Israel and Anna
(Dodge) Thorndike, and was born in Beverly, Mass., 8 July,
1797. His father was a man of great ability and energy. It
has been justly remarked, that "few individuals, endowed with
such mental powers, appear in a generation ; and when their
influence is united, as was his, with high moral powers, and
exerted during a long life on the side of virtue , and in promot
ing the best interests of society, it is enduring, and serves to give
a character to the age in which they live." *

At an early age, Augustus manifested a quickness of appre
hension, and much aptitude for learning ; and Col. Thorndike
was very desirous that his son should receive the best possible
education. With this object in view, he sent him, when about
eleven years of age, to Edinburgh, and placed him under the care
of the Rev. David Irving, D.D., a very distinguished classical
scholar, in whose family he resided during all the time he re
mained in Scotland. After some preparation, under the instruc
tion of Dr. Irving, Augustus entered that well-known seminary
called the High School of Edinburgh. There he pursued his
studies with diligence, and made very satisfactory proficiency,
until about August, 1813, when his father directed him to re
turn home, for the purpose of having him enter college at Cam
bridge. As war existed at that time between England and the
United States, some delay occurred before a suitable ship could
be obtained in which he might cross the Atlantic. On the 28th

* History of Harvard College, by Josiak Quincy, vol. ii. p. 413.

1858-59.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 259

of September, he left Liverpool in what was denominated a car
tel, together with forty-one other Americans ; and arrived at
Boston on the 4th of November.

It may be proper here to- state that Augustus conducted him
self well while he lived in Edinburgh, and was held in good
estimation by his instructors and acquaintances. The late Earl
of Buchan, the friend of Washington, took much interest in him,
familiarly calling him little Thorndike ; and he, as well as the
celebrated Francis Jeffrey, the late Lord- Advocate of Scotland,
showed Augustus much attention and kindness. At the High
School, at that time, there were several pupils who were sons
of noblemen ; and, when Augustus entered the school, these
pupils manifested a disposition to be rude to this young Ameri
can. One of the boys, who was son of an illustrious duke, often
took the liberty to run upon and hector young Thorndike ; and
he seemed to be encouraged in this practice by some of his com
rades. This was borne with a good degree of patience for a
time ; but at length it became intolerable ; and Augustus, having
consulted with his old friend, the Earl of Buchan, took a favor
able opportunity, when he was grossly assailed by the young
duke, as he was commonly called, to redress his grievances.
Whereupon these two champions had a furious set-to and fight.
A ring was formed, and a large majority of the boys insisted
upon fair play. Augustus, who w^as very athletic, and was
expert in boxing, gave the young duke such a severe drub
bing, that he cried for quarter, and at length surrendered at dis
cretion. The young American was cheered, and proclaimed the
victor. Thenceforth he was in the ascendant, and was treated
with great deference and civility by all the boys in the school,

On the return of Augustus, in November, 1813, he reviewed
his studies, and made some additional preparation under the
instruction of Mr. George Morey (H.C. 1811), who was then a
student-at- law in Boston. On the 9th of February, 1814, Mr.
Morey offered him for admission into Harvard College. He
bore a very satisfactory examination, and w r as admitted into the
sophomore class by the unanimous voice of his several examin
ers. Augustus went to Cambridge under circumstances not


likely to insure to him a satisfactory progress through college.
He entered at an advanced standing, and became at the outset a
member of the sophomore class. At the High School in Edin
burgh he had been thoroughly drilled in Latin and Greek, and
his manner of pronouncing. Greek and reciting in these studies
was peculiar and striking. His advent at Cambridge produced
quite a sensation among the students. His dress and manners
attracted much notice. Certain members of his class, and also of
the two upper classes, whose companionship was not calculated
to be particularly beneficial to him, sought his acquaintance.
They were disposed to express surprise at his acquirements, and
at all times they courted and flattered him. He frequently spoke
of the feats and exploits perpetrated at the High School in Edin
burgh, and often gathered a crowd around him while he nar
rated what he had seen and done. He often expressed much
admiration of the arrangements at the school he had just left ;
and, finding the rules to which he was now subject very different
from those he had been accustomed to, he was not slow to mani
fest his dissatisfaction and disgust with the regulations at Cam
bridge. This state of feeling led him not unfrequently to dis
regard and disobey them, and he was encouraged to do so by
his associates. In consequence of this, he was several times
called to acoount by the officers of the college ; and, when ar
raigned, he was not inclined to manifest a proper respect or
deference to those who administered admonition to him. At
length, on the 6th of November, 1814, having become involved
in a complication of ordinary college difficulties, his relations
with the university were, by a vote of the faculty, wholly sus
pended. He then left Cambridge, and went to Groton, Mass. ;
and there pursued his studies under the direction of his former
instructor, Mr. Morey, who had entered his name as a student-
at-law in the office of the Hon. Luther Lawrence (H.C. 1801).
He remained at Groton about six months, where his conduct was
unexceptionable ; and he fully kept up with his class in their
studies. On the 29th of May, 1815, he was again offered by
Mr. Morey for admission ; and, having borne a very good exam
ination, he was again restored to his former standing in college.


At the commencement in 1816, lie took his degree; but, as
might well have been expected, he had no share in the special
honors of the day.

After leaving college, he* went to Gottingen, and there took
up his residence, in company with Mr. Joseph G. Cogswell
(H.C. 1806). After remaining a considerable time at Gottin
gen, lie, with Mr. Cogswell, made an extensive tour, and visited
various parts of Europe. In due time he returned to the United
States. lie married, about the year 1824, Henrietta Steuart,
daughter of Dr. James Steuart, formerly of Annapolis, Md.,
and afterwards of Baltimore. The children of this marriage are
four, two sons and two daughters. Their names are Rebecca
(now the wife of Lieut. H. C. Marin, of the navy), James
Steuart, Charles, and Henrietta Augusta. James Steuart
graduated at Harvard College in 1848, and Charles in 1854.

In the year 1836, Mr. Thorndike left Boston, with his family,
for the purpose of proceeding to Scotland, and taking up his
residence there for an indefinite length of time. On his arrival
in Scotland, he took a lease, for a term of years, of an estate
situated not far from Edinburgh, with a preserve attached there
unto, well stocked with game. On this estate he resided several
years, amusing himself by shooting game in the season, and
by fishing in the Tweed and the various waters in Scotland. He
was as enthusiastic an angler as Izaak Walton. He visited the
coast of Xorway with a friend from Boston, and spent several
days in fishing on the coast of that country. He invented a fly,
which he used for the purpose of catching fish. It was called
the Thorndike fly, and became very famous throughout Scotland.
Such was his success with this artificial fly, that he was invited
to go to Arundel, in England, and use it for the purpose of
catching mullet in the river Arun. This was a favorite fish with
Heliogabalus and other Roman emperors. They often paid for
it at the rate of a sestertium ($40) for a pound. The Duke of
Norfolk, through whose estate this stream runs, has a regulation
forbidding the taking of mullet by the seine, net, or spear ; and
as this wary fish cannot be caught by a hook used in the ordi
nary mode, which fact his sagacious lordship well knew, the


above regulation amounted to an entire prohibition. But Mr.
Thorndike declined going to Arundel for the purpose suggested,
until the consent of the noble duke should be first obtained. He
remarked that it should not be said that an American gentleman
had attempted to practise any circumvention upon the Earl-Mar
shal of England.

After "Mr. Thorndike had resided several years in Europe, he
returned, with his family, to the United States. He became owner
of a beautiful estate in Newport, R.I., which he occupied a con
siderable period, until the marriage of his eldest daughter with
Lieut. Marin. After this event, he sold his estate, broke up his
establishment at Newport, and went, with his family, to Europe.
He came to Boston in 1856, and remained here several months.
He, at this time, took an active part in the management of his
property. He built a block of stores on the site of the old Com
mercial Coffee-house, and to some extent superintended the work
himself. He went back to Europe, and spent most of his time in
Paris ; and again, in the month of June, 1858, he returned to
Boston, for the purpose of purchasing a mansion-house in this
city, to be occupied by himself and his wife during their remain
ing days. At the time of his return, and for some months
afterwards, he appeared to be in excellent health. In the course
of the summer, he set about making that long will, which has
been published, has attracted much attention, and has been point
edly commented on in divers newspapers. It was completed
and executed 24 September, 1858 ; and was deposited, by order
of the testator, in the office of the Probate Court for the county
of Suffolk ; to which tribunal he, without doubt, expected and
intended it should, upon his decease, be presented for allowance
and approval. This will bears, in a peculiar manner, the im
press of Mr. Thorndike s mind. It is obviously the result of
much reflection and consideration; and is, in a great measure,
his own handiwork. Undoubtedly he received assistance on the
occasion from one or more friends learned in the law. The
circumstance that it is all in his own handwriting, furnishes, to
those who knew him well, pregnant evidence that he took a deep
interest in the matter, and devoted particular attention to the

1858-59.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 263

preparation of this elaborate instrument. This is not the place
to discuss the character of this important document, or the
merits of some of its provisions, the nature of which resulted
from a certain family-difficulty. What the precise character of
this difficulty may have been, no one can fully know and compre
hend but the parties themselves : while there is no doubt, that,
if he had consulted any of his judicious friends as to what sort
of a will he should make, a very different instrument, in one
important particular at least, would have been the result of such
consultation : but the testator, in this case, chose to make and
publish his own will, and not that of a friend. The will actually
executed is emphatically Mr. Thorndike s own will. He alone
is responsible for all its provisions, and he expected to be so
responsible. It is just such a will as those who best knew Au
gustus Thorndike would have expected him to make, under the
circumstances stated by him in the instrument.

Mr. Thorndike possessed much intellectual power and vigor.
His mind was highly cultivated. He was a good classical
scholar. He was a great reader of ancient and modern history.
He had visited the most interesting portions of Europe. He
had seen much, and had an excellent opportunity to make
discriminating observations upon men and manners. He pos
sessed a large fund of accurate information in relation to Euro
pean society, and was familiar with its prevailing manners,
customs, and usages. He possessed colloquial powers of a
high order. He could make his conversation exceedingly pleas
ant and interesting. His bearing was that of a gentleman.
His manners indicated good breeding, and a perfect knowledge
of the forms and civilities belonging to the best society. In
his opinions and feelings, he was always conservative. He was
early taught to respect and venerate the principles of Theophi-
lus Parsons, Nathan Dane, George Cabot, and other Essex
statesmen. He was, during the greater part of his life, on
terms of intimacy and friendship with many distinguished
noblemen in England and Scotland.

He was averse to labor, especially of an ordinary kind ; but
he was capable of great physical exertion, and would not shrink


from long, vigorous, and continued effort in any thing about
which he felt a particular interest. Pride was not a stranger to
his bosom. He was always desirous of having reason to be
proud of every member of his family, and of whatever posses
sion belonged to him. Any disappointment, therefore, in this
respect, was to him a sore grievance and mortification. He
was ever anxious to give all his children a perfect education.
On some occasions, there were indications of his being actuated
by a spirit of jealousy. He manifested much sensibility when
he suspected that some wrong or fraud was intended to be prac
tised upon him. Nothing provoked him so much as to discover
that he had been deceived, or imposed upon. He was slow
to forget or forgive a supposed injury of this kind, especially
when he thought it had been accomplished by concealment or
management. He had an iron will ; and, whenever he had
given formal notice of a particular purpose, he was very certain
to fulfil it. When he had made a decision or resolve, the thing
was fixed, and a change in his determination could hardly be
expected. If, like the Israelitish captain, he made a vow, like
him he was sure to perform it. He never harbored, for any
length of time, those ordinary resentments which many per
sons persistently cherish. He uniformly entertained much re
spect for those who had been his tutors and instructors, and
always expressed kind feelings towards them. Those who had
been strict and severe in their discipline formed no exception to
this rule. Notwithstanding he received some rebuffs during his
residence at Cambridge, he manifested much affection for the
university. He sent his two sons to Harvard College, where
they graduated in due course ; and in his last will, which has
been so much criticised, he remembered his Alma Mater, and
gave a legacy of twenty thousand dollars to establish a profes
sorship of music at the college, to be managed, as far as prac
ticable, according to the statutes of the University of Oxford.
His provision respecting the management of the professorship
is perfectly characteristic of the testator.

No one could question his veracity or honesty. Whatever
he stated might always be implicitly relied upon ; and whatever

1858-59.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 265

debt he owed he was certain to pay promptly, and to the utter
most farthing. Every promise he made, or contract he entered
into, he never failed to perform, in the spirit and to the letter.
TThile he exacted strict and perfect justice of others, such jus
tice he was at all times ready to do on his part. This was with
him a constant maxim and fixed principle of conduct. He was
conscious of having committed errors during his career. This,
notwithstanding his pride, he on several occasions confessed to
some of his most intimate and confidential friends. He often
regretted that he had not studied a profession, or engaged in
some business, which would have required constant attention,
and given him regular employment. One circumstance should
not be forgotten in this connection. He eschewed the great
mistakes often committed by the sons of rich men. He not
only did not waste or impair the large property derived from
his father s will, but greatly increased it by his prudence and
good management. For this, his family certainly have much
reason to express feelings of pride and thankfulness. Every
member thereof may well be particularly grateful, that, by the
provisions Mr. Thorndike has made for his worthy and excellent
wife, he has given her the means, in her own judicious way, to
make amends, in a great degree, for the most objectionable
feature of her husband s will ; and it is hoped that it will not
be deemed impertinent to suggest, in conclusion, that her quiet
and prudent management will be vastly more likely to promote
justice and equity, the peace of the family, and the good of all
concerned, than a long and protracted course of litigation.

1820. CHARLES BUTTERFIELD died in Tyngsborough ,
Mass., 26 July, 1858, aged 62. He was son of Capt. Asa
and Abiah (Colburn) Butterfield, and was born in Tyngs
borough, 21 December, 1795. He was fitted for college at
Westford Academy. Having chosen the profession of law, he
pursued his legal studies under the tuition of Hon. Daniel
Ilichardson, of Tyngsborough. On the completion of his pro
fessional studies, and having been admitted to the bar, he
opened an office in his native town ; but relinquished the profes
sion a few years afterwards, and devoted himself to agriculture.



He was never married. He was a man of a most amiable and
genial disposition, with a fund of wit ever at command. He
was one of the four, of the class of 1820, who established in
1818, in college, the renowned "Med. Fac. Society." The
other three were James Ferdinand Deering, of Portland, Me. ;
David Priestley Hall, of Pomfret, Conn, (now of New-York
City) ; and the writer of this notice.

Mr. Butterfield was universally esteemed by the inhabitants
of his native town. He represented the town in the state legis
lature in 1834 and 1835. Possessed of the most kind and
philanthropic feelings, he was always ready to afford his ser
vices to benefit his fellow-beings. At the bedside of the sick,
he was unwearied in his watchings.; to the afflicted, he was a
comforter; to those who needed counsel in worldly matters, his
services were always freely given ; and, being a well-read law
yer, he had great influence in preventing litigation.

In 1857, he was appointed librarian of the Middlesex Me
chanic Association in Lowell, and took up his residence in that
city. It was a quiet place among books ; and, with the changes
contemplated, was just the situation where he hoped to pass, in
a manner suited to his tastes, among pleasant companions, many
long years of a healthy and vigorous old age. He was in per
fect health, was careful of himself, and was of a long-lived race ;
his father having lived, in robust health, to the age of 94
years. But it was decreed otherwise. In the midst of the hap
piness he enjoyed in his new position, and the pleasure which his
friends took in having him there, he was suddenly, in February,
1858, attacked with a disease of the heart, which satisfied him
at once that his plans for the future were soon to come to an
end. He remarked, that, amid all the death-scenes he had wit
nessed, he had always hoped for a sudden exit for himself, and
was happy that the nature of his disease promised this. But in
this he was not gratified. He went home to die, contentedly
and patiently ; but for weeks he lingered with great suffering,
though with perfect submission to his fate. He was greatly
beloved and respected by the people among whom he passed
nearly the whole of his life; and who, in his death, mourn the
loss of a worthy, good man.

1853-59.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 267

New-York City, 28 January, 1859, aged 62. He was the sixth
son of Rev. Samuel (II. C. 1764) and Anna (Cutler) Parker,
and was born in Boston, 6 June, 1796. His father was rector

Online LibraryJoseph PalmerNecrology of alumni of Harvard college, 1851-52 to 1862-63 → online text (page 24 of 49)