Oliver N Bacon.

A history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 17 of 22)
Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 22)
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giate course, which were approved and much used. In 1830 he
published a short history of Natick and Sherborn. But it is by his
poetical pieces of wit and humor that he will be most delightfully
remembered. In 1844 he was engaged in proof-reading in an
establishment in Boston which had just been removed from Cam-
bridge. On the morning of January 10th he was seized with apo-
plexy and lingered until the evening of the 12th, when he died.
His remains were interred at Natick.

Whatever were the errors of Mr. Bigelow's early years, they
involved no dereliction from honesty and truth. Social indulgence in
youth grew into a habit, which was the bane of his life in subsequent
years, — a habit which it was hard to conquer, but which he did
conquer, though at a period when physical vigor was prostrated and
mental energy enfeebled, and the ' genial current of the soul ' not
frozen, but humbled under a painful sense of errors which no regret
could relieve, and the consequences of short-comings in duty which
no recompense could fully repair."

The following sketch of the character of Mr. Bigelow appeared in
the Boston Courier a few days after his death : " He was in the first
place a scholar, ' and a ripe and good one,' possessed of a mind which
mastered much with apparently but small effijrt, imbued deeply with
the fine elegance of classical literature, and possessed besides of an
attic wit which was the perpetual delight of his friends — a wit
♦ that loved to play, not wound.' Had his mind been disciplined or
inured to anything more than desultory or occasional effort, he might
have done much more. As it was, everything that he wrote, and at
various times published, showed great power. His sermons were
serious and devout, and distinguished by strong sense. He compiled
several reading books for children, which gained him high reputa-
tion, and an excellent Latin Reader. He was however most known


for his poetry — full of good humor, knowledge of character, a ready
and original style of wit, and occasional pathos, which came over
the soul with a stronger influence because it came from a heart rich
with all the sympathies of a most kind and generous spirit."

After all that can be said of his mental attainments, or the
strength which gave them birth, it is still on the qualities of his
heart that his friends must now dwell with the most delight. He
carried through life that true test of real talent, simplicity and
buoyancy of feeling, which did not dread degradation from the com-
pany of children, which loved to lay itself open to their often acute
examination, a heart favorable to all the influences of nature and
truth. My first remembrance of him is as a sort of commander of
a military corps, composed of his scholars in Salem, which he called
the Trojan band, and the untiring assiduity and kindness with which
he marched and countermarched this miniature company first made
me love him. From this time for forty years I scarcely saw him.
In the retirement of Natick it was my fortune once again to meet
him during the last summer, his health evidently somewhat impaired
by time, but his spirit still elastic and playful, almost as in the days
of infancy. Playful indeed, but still ever and anon through its
play would glance the influence of a spirit somewhat saddened by
misfortune and time, but open to all good influences, with no
shade of misanthropy or discontent to sully its purity, which
proved its communion with Heaven by loving all that was worthy of
its love on earth. I have spoken of his intemperance because he
himself would not have wished it corrected. He was indeed very
far from boasting of his recovery from it, and still further from call-
ing public attention to it, or making it a source of profit by lectures.
He knew indeed that those who knew him must have felt the evil of
intemperance with a force stronger than any words could utter. He
was loved by all ; with a strong mind, and perhaps somewhat proud
by nature, distinguished for his attainments, known but not feared
for his wit. What such a being might have been, had his mind been
tasked to its utmost, all could see. The comparative obscurity of
his latter days must have pained him, but if so, the pain did not
make him harsh or unkind, and the consequences of his improper
indulgence, though so nobly redeemed, would still make themselves
felt with utterance.

He Avas indeed a true-hearted and most kind man. It was


delightful to meet with him during the last summer, relieved for a
few weeks from the drudgery of his daily avocation, surrounded by
his friends, and to recall with him the tradition of such a place as
Natick ; to stand with him under the oak from Avhich the apostolic
Eliot called the wild Indian to repentance and to Christ ; to wander
forth through the deep shades and still pastures, tracing the dwelling
places of those sons of the forest, or kneeling over the gray stones
which marked their last resting-places on earth. Here too he
recalled with me the memories of the loved and lost whom he had
known in early life, and here too he spoke of one whose soul was
even then stretching her wings for immortal flight.

The compiler has several of Mr. Bigelow's poetical effusions in
his hands, some of them of a local character, which he wishes to
place before his readers, and dares to do so even at the risk of being
prolix on this subject.

The first from which he makes selection is an advertisement of
John Brown, who kept a shop near his residence in South Natick.
His friends well remember the occasion of his writing it. It formed
the amusement of an hour, and runs thus :



Know ye John Brown of Xatick town,
In Middlesex scilicet,
Doth make this call on one and all.
In language most explicit.


Men, women, maids, in way of trade,
"Who are to liim indebted.
Must call and pay, or their delay
Will be by them regretted.

And by him too, for he must sue,
And that will cost him trouble.
That unto them the cost and shame
Will make their debts quite double.


With much delight he doth invite
All those that have him trusted,
To call with speed, as was agreed.
And have their claims adjusted.


His tavern still, with all ais skill.

He keeps for entertaining.

Well stored with food and drink that's good,

Enough to drown complaining.


His parlors neat, his chambers sweet,
Adorned with bed and bedding.
Rug, blanket, sheet, all things complete,
Pit even for a wedding.


His store, beside, is well siipplied
With goods (worth close attention
Of candid minds) of various kinds,
Too numerous here to mention.

Among the rest he keeps the best
Of brandy, rum, and whiskey,
And wine and gin, and better slinj
To make his guests feel frisky.


Good lemonade as ere was made.
Large and small looking glasses ;
Essence of spruce, and apple juice,
Salt beef, pork, and molasses.


Powder and shot, which he will not
Sell till the fourth of July,
That to that day the bird-lav/ may
Be well observed and truly.


Postscript added in 1832 :

Although John Brown has left the town,
And tavern house to Whiting,
The same old stand with the new hand
Is equally inviting.

The store, it seems, is left to Eames,
Who to the very letter,
'Tis understood makes John's jDlace good,
And stiives to make it better.

After Bigelow left the Messenger he sent a number of articles to
the Farmer's Museum, which as they were " composed of a variety
of material intended to effectuate the destruction of such enemies
of mankind as spleen, immorality, and irreligion," he proposed to
call " Olio." The following is the first of the number, and with it
we bid adieu to this gifted but unfortunate son of Natick.


In ballai'ds first I spent my boyish time.

At college next I soared in doggerel rhjone,

Then of a school the master and adorucr,

I scribbled verses for a Poet's Corner.

But when, erewhile, I strove -with slender means,

Newspapers to edit, and Magazines,

The public frowned, and warned me at my peril.

To drop the pen and reassume the ferule.

And now, enchanting Poetry, adieu !

Thy siren charms no longer I pursue ;

Past are those days of indolence and joj^

When tender parents nursed thcu- darling boy.

In Harvard's walls maintained me many a year,

Nor let one dun discordant grate my ear.

For love of thee I quitted love of gold,

My Pike neglected, and my Euclid sold ;

On fancy's wings from poverty iipborne,

Saw not my coat was patched, my stocltings torn ;


With childish creep approached Pieria's springs,
Nor, -when a man, could "piit off childish things."
StQl by some igiiis fatuus led astray,
I 've "wandered on through many a dismal way,
Have seen my golden prospects end in dross.
Fought for a mjTtle crown, and gained a cross.
Too proud to court the little or the great.
Thy votaries never rise in church or State —
Not all thy power from bailiffs can secure.
Nor coax our waiy fair to " 7narry poor."
Farewell ! On others inspii-ation flash ;
Give them eternal fame, — but give me cash.

Adieu, thou busy world ! I quit thy cares.

Thy luring smiles I've viewed, and found them snares ;

Thy towering hopes pursued, and found them vain ;

Thy pleasures tasted, and have found them pain ;

Far other objects now my heart shall bind

With sacred truths to store my youthful mind ;

The lessons learn by Godlike reason given.

And trace religion's path which leads to Heaven.

Charles Chatteebox,




This beautiful design, which in the body of this work we noticed
as having originated with Rev. Daniel Wight, has met with the most
flattering reception on both sides of the Atlantic. Lawyers, states-
men, artists, editors, clergymen, have given their recommendations
to it in its design and execution. We give the testimonials of sev-
eral of those who are best known in this country and in Europe.

From Rev. E. N. Kirk, Pastor of the Mount Vernon Church in
Boston :

Mr. Jewett: Dear Sir — My opinion of this picture is
unqualified. I have seen many productions of the pencil, and the
graver, many allegorical paintings, but this stands alone. Bunyan
has that sure mark of genius that he kindles his fires in other souls,
and makes the pen and pencil in other hands feel the inspiration of
his own heart. You must not indeed expect this piece to rank with
the classic works of the masters, simply because it starts from a
different conception, and is wrought under restrictions to which their
authors were not subjected. Raphael and Angelo chose their sub-
jects, and so had unlimited scope for the imagination ; but Billings
and Andrews had their subjects prescribed. The former could pour
their glowing conceptions of beauty into single figures, for the most
part nearly or quite of natural size. The latter have been compelled
to put two hundred and eighty human figures into a plate of thirty
by twenty-four inches. The former had one incident, or one face, or
one scene to paint ; the latter had the whole Pilgrim's Progress to
describe. Angelo had hundreds of square feet on which to exhibit
one scene, in human experience — The Judgment, — our artists had
not more than five square feet for portraying the whole moral history
of man. And yet we miss nothing of importance here.

But when the project was first mentioned, the objection at once
arose — a picture cannot be made of Pilgrim's Progress, l^oth


because the road must make zigzag lines from the bottom to the top,
thus preventing all picturesque eifect, and because all unity must
be destroyed by the immensely varied repetitions of the principal
figure. How great then is our admiration at seeing the power of
native art, or of taste and good sense, manifested in overcoming these
inherent difficulties.

The first glance at the engraving produces a perfectly picturesque
effect by the general distribution of the light and shade. Yet in
that one picture the whole allegory of the Christian Pilgrim is pre-
sented without confusion, without false perspective, without violence
done to the proportions of any part.

Then a still closer inspection shows that the one picture in reality
consists of forty or fifty, and if you inquire for the interpreter's
house, that difficult subject for the painter, as it contains pictures
within a picture, you will find the difficulty ingeniously and tastefully
overcome by putting these plates in medallions on the lower border
of the plate.

Proceeding to form a more particular conception of the piece, you
perceive an admirable harmony between the light and shade or tone
of the picture and that of the subject. The eye at first rests on deep
shadow where Pilgrim is found in the City of Destruction. As you
follow him, he passes through alternate lights and shades and over
hills and valleys ; but as you see him approach the close of his con-
flicts and his toil, a serene and holy light fills the eye, and so he
enters heaven ; a scene of calm but holy animation rests on the
fields and cities of the celestial Canaan. I surely may say I have
not in my recollection a picture which in its moral and rehgious
efiects is so impressive and instructive. Man's moral history, — his
conflicts, his joys, his invisible enemies and friends, the humble
beginning of his heavenward march in fear and sorrow, his alterna.
tions of hope and doubt, and his glorious reception into the celestial
city, — is here most graphically and beautifully spread befoYe you.

As a work of art I must therefore think it stands among the first
our country has produced, while as an instructive and impressive
family picture I know not its equal. Yours, most truly,

Edw. N. Kirk.
Beacon street, Boston, June, 1853.

19ti Ai'l'ENDlX.

We have space for only one more notice from the London Morning
Advertiser :

'' Buxyan's Pilgrim's Progress in oxe hundred tableaux. —
A remarkable v.ork of art has just been submitted to our notice.
It is an etching of most elaborate execution, of large dimensions,
finished by cross hatching and shading till it has tlic finish and effect
of line engraving. Some idea of the labor and artistic knowledge
required to render such a multiplicity of figures effective, and to
prevent the ensemble from offending the eye of taste, may be gath-
ered from the fact that no less than one hundred subjects in a
vignette form are combined into the one picture. These scenes
embody the whole of the salient points of the immortal work of
John Bunyan.

Beginning at the lower corner at the right band we have Ko. 1,
' The City of Destruction, or this world,' and proceed through all
the varied adventures of Christian. Many of these are delightfully
suggestive of the symbolic imaginings of the quaint old tinker of
Bedford, whose charming allegory has entranced the child, the poet,
iand the sage. ' The Doubting Castle of Giant Despair' (13), with
ts imprisoned pilgrims, and shepherds on ' Delectable mountains '
leaning on their staves, are happy points of contrast. ' The River
of Death' (Xo. 03), with its dark and bridgeless water from Avhich
nature shrinks back though heaven is sure beyond, ' and the crowds
of angels before the Gate Beautiful,' and the transfigured pilgrims
entering ' the Celestial City ' (_No. 98), may be viewed as com-
pleting the pictorial story. The drawing throughout is highly cred-
itable to American art, and the print, which is well worthy a frame,
will form a suggestive embellishment for the wall, more pregnant
than the moral apothegms which in Eastern countries speak to the
inhabitants of their dwellings."'

The work is every way remarkable.



The towns which lie about Natick possess generally the same
features which have been described as belon/ing to tliis town. They
have New England's climate, New England's lakes and ponds,
rivers and brooks, and manners and customs. A traveller, either
on foot or by carriage, will meet with hearty " good mornings" from
many smiling lips, and with insult from no one. He perhaps may
feel a shudder if he chance to come near a school-house, but not
unless he has been in the habit of passing them in former years.
Improvement in this regard is clearly visible, and the passer-by is
now more often met by a bow than by a shout or a shower of snow-

Among the valleys and rural districts in the vicinity is much more
of the primitive simplicity of New England in earlier times than is
generally supposed.

The humble virtue's hospitable home,
And spirit pious, patient, proud, and free ;
The self-respect grafted on innocent thoughts,
The days of hcaltli and nights of sleep,
The toils dignified by skill, the hopes
Of cheerful old age, and a quiet gi-ave.

But we will be somewhat more minute in our description of the
towns which lie immediately about us.

Dover, which lies to the northeast of Natick, was originally a
part of Dedham. It was incorporated as a precinct in 1748, and as
a town in 1784. The church was embodied in 1762, and Rev.
Benjamin Caryl was its minister the same year. lie continued in
the pastoral office forty-one years, and was succeeded by Rev. Ralph
Sawyer, who was settled in 1812. The surface of this town is
uneven, and a considerable portion of it is covered with wood. Pino


Hill, in this town, near the Medfield line, is 400 feet above Charles
River. Population is about 600. Distance from Natick five miles,
and from Boston fourteen. Charles River village, in the northeast
corner, is a manufacturing place.

Sherborn. This town lies to the south of Natick. It was incor-
porated in 1674, and during its history has been more connected
with Natick than any of the adjoining towns. It was Sherborn with
whom Natick exchanged lands. The Sherborn minister lectured
constantly for years to the Natick Indians. The site of the meeting-
house is elevated, and the town possesses a rich soil, though some-
what rocky. There are two Congregational churches in the town,
one of which is Unitarian. Its population is about 1200. The
shoe business is carried on to some extent. Straw bonnets are man-
ufactured in two or three shops. In this town the celebrated Fisher
Ames first commenced the practice of law.

A large proportion of the farms are owned, occupied and improved
by the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth generations, descended from
those who reclaimed them from the wilderness.

Framingham. This town lies to the west of Natick, and is well
known as one of the finest farming towns in the State. It was
incorporated in 1700. In this year it was by the General Court
" ordered that said plantation, called Framingham, be henceforth a
township, retaining the name of Framingham, and have and enjoy
all the privileges of a town according to law." The first minister of
the place was Rev. John Swift, who was ordained October, 1701,
and died in 1745, aged 67. This town is about six miles from
Natick, and twenty-one from Boston. The centre village contains
eighty dwelUng houses and four churches — one Orthodox, one Uni-
tarian, one Baptist, one Universalist.

Saxonville, a manufacturing town, is two and one half miles to
the east of this, and is connected with Natick by a railroad.


Wayland. This town, which lies on the north of Natick, bore
the name of East Sudbury from 1780 to 1835. It is separated on
the west from Sudbury by the river of that name, which annually
overflows a large tract of land to the west and north of the town.
In February, 1722-3, the church at Sudbury was by a vote of its
members divided into two distinct churches. Mr. Cook was ordained
the pastor on the east side of Sudbury River in March of 1723.
He died in 1760. In 1765 the number of houses on the east side
was 112 * the number of families, 129 ; the number of white inhab-
itants, 698. The inhabitants of Wayland are almost exclusively

Weston. The exact period (says Dr. Kendall in his Century
Sermon, preach in 1813) when what is now called Weston began
to be settled, is not known, but it must have been pretty early. In
ecclesiastical affairs this town was connected with Watertown about
sixty-eighty and in civil concerns about eighty years. Weston was
incorporated as a distinct town in 1712, previous to which time it
had been a precinct of Watertown. We find the precinct in 1706
was 2^^6sented at the Court of Sessions on account of their not
having a settled minister. Rev. William Williams was ordained
here in 1709 ; Rev. Samuel Woodard, the successor of Mr. Wil-
liams, in 1751. This town is the residence of many people from
Boston during the summer months.

Needham. This bounds Natick on the east, and was originally
part of Dedham. Charles River winds around it on three .sides,
leaving it in the form of a peninsula. On the banks of the river
are large bodies of meadow land — one to the east, partly in Dedham
and partly in Newton, called Broad's, is said to be the largest in the
State. Two " Falls," Upper and Lower, in the river, give very
valuable water privileges to the town ; at these places are gathered
most of the population. The town was incorporated in 1711.

In connection with our description of the country in this vicinity
a similar description of it in 1629 will be read with interest. Wo


find it In the Massachusetts Historical Society Records for 1792. It
is entitled "New England Plantation, — or, a short and true
description of the commodities and discommodities of that country.
Written in the year 1629, by Mr. Higgeson, a reverend divine
now there resident. Whereunto is added a letter sent by Mr.
Graus, an Enginere, out of New England. Reprinted from the
third edition, London, 1530."

" Letting passe our voyage by sea we will now begin our dis-
course on the shore of New England. And because the life and
welfare of every creature heere below, and the commodiousness of
country whereat such creatures live, doth by the most wise ordering
of God's Providence depend next unto himselfe upon the tempera-
ture and disposition of the foure elements, earth, water, aire, and
fire, (for as of the- mixture of all these all sublunary things are
composed, so by the more or less enjoyment of the wholesome tem-
per and convenient use of these consisteth the only well being both
of man and beast in a more or less comfortable measure in all coun-
tries under the heavens,) therefore I will endeavour to shew you
what New England is by the consideration of each of these apart,
and truly indeavor by God's helpe to report nothing but the naked
truth, and that both to tell you of the discommodities as well as of
the commodities, though as the idle proverb is, travellers may lye hy
authorities and so may take too much sinfull libertie that way. Yet
I may say of myselfe, as once Nehemiah did in another case. Shall
such a man as I lie '.- No, verily ; it becometh not a preacher of
truth to be a writer of falshood in any degree ; and therefore I have
beene carefull to report nothing of New England but what I have
partly scene with mine own eyes, and partly heard and enquired
from the mouths of verie honest and reUgious persons, who, by living
in the countrey a good space of time, have had experience and
knowledge of the state thereof, and whose testimonials I doe beUevo
as my selfe.

First, therefore, of the earth of New England and all the appurte-
nances thereof. It is a land of divers and sundry sorts all about
iNIasathulets Bay, and at Charles River is as fat blacke earth as can
be seene anywhere ; and in other places you have a clay soyle, and


in other gravell, in other sandj, as it is all about our plantation at
Salem, for so our towne is now named.

The forme of the earth here, in the superfiees of it, is neither too
flat in the plainnesso, nor too high in hills, but partakes of both in
a mediocritie, and fit for pasture, or for plow or meddow ground, as
men please to employ it ; though all the country bee, as it were a
thieke wood for the general!, yet in divers places there is much ground
cleared by the Indians, and especially about the plantation. And
I am told that about three miles from us a man may stand on a
little hilly place and see divers thousands of acres of ground as
good as need to be, and not a tree in the same. It is thought here
is good clay to make bricke and tyles and earthen pot as need to
be. At this instant we are setting a briok-kiil on worke to make

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Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 22)