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Peter Smith.

Memorials of Peter Smith. Born, Brechin, Scotland, Sept. 21, 1802. Died, Andover, Mass., July 6, 1880 online

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Online LibraryPeter SmithMemorials of Peter Smith. Born, Brechin, Scotland, Sept. 21, 1802. Died, Andover, Mass., July 6, 1880 → online text (page 4 of 6)
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Mr. Merrill, who knew him better than any one
else outside of his circle of family friends :

My acquaintance with Deacon Smith ex-
tended over a period of about twenty-four years.
For several reasons it was quite intimate. He
was more immediately instrumental of my going
to the West Parish than any other member of
the church, and I went directly to his house at
the first. I always counseled with him in mat-
ters affecting the interests of religion in the

parish His deficient early education he

always greatly lamented. That he knew so little
of grammar and rhetoric was not only a dis-
tress to him, but often restrained him from ac-
cepting positions for which he was better quali-
fied than most men of a liberal education.

It surprised me often, when occasions roused
him and made him forget his limited learning,
to listen to such appeals, arguments, and illustra-
tions of important truths as would have done



79

honor to men of the largest opportunities. Dea-
con Smith educated himself by reading; by in-
tercourse with thinking men ; by speech and
labor for the kingdom of Christ; and by the
great efforts he necessarily put forth in the con-
duct of his extensive business. If his learning
was limited, his education was large.

During the four years of the civil war, Dea-
con Smith's desire for the maintenance of the
government and for the extinction of slavery
was intense. He was earnest in prayer, some-
times eloquent in speech, and, from the very
outset, prompt to incur large pecuniary risks for
those objects. He was among the very first to
invest largely in the government bonds, which
were issued to carry on the war. This, when
the prospect was dark, and many men prophe-
sying defeat, and few men of means were will-
ing to put their property at such a hazard.

[Mr. Merrill omits to say that he gave not
only money but men ; two of his sons having
served in the war, one of them until nearly the
close of it]



8o

For several years after I went to Andover (as
well as many years before), until he declined fur-
ther election, Deacon Smith was superintendent
of the Sabbath-school. In this work he was
greatly interested and very successful. He took
special pains to induce the children to com-
mit to memory large portions of the Scriptures
and the Assembly's Shorter Catechism.

So long as his age and health allowed he was
constant in his attendance on the stated prayer
meetings of the church. The calls of business
very seldom prevented. His business affairs,
often very pressing, were arranged with a view
to these meetings.

When he rose to speak, as he often did, one
would not conjecture that business, involving
values that most men would consider a fortune,
waited his attention at his factories, or on the
wharves, or at the custom-house in Boston. In
this power of commanding his mind and exclud-
ing the world at the call of religion, he was a
remarkable man.

He took a special interest, always, in the mis-
sionary concerts, and often brought to them



8i

intelligence which he had gathered from the
secular papers, or from intercourse with business
men.

In the matter of benevolent giving, he acted
from principle, seldom from impulse. To the
church and parish he frequently offered as much
as all others would raise.

There was nothing which seemed to give him
greater satisfaction than private conversation on
matters of Christian experience, or matters relat-
ing to Christ's kingdom.

Never did he seem to break through his
natural exclusiveness to such a degree as in the
somewhat frequent private conversations which
he sought with me, and I so greatly enjoyed
with him, in my study. In these conversations,
Christ, religious truth, Christ's kingdom at
home and abroad, and Christian experience,
were the common themes. If at any time the
conversation drifted away from these themes,
and fell, as perhaps at the time seemed unavoid-
able, upon any secular subjects, however impor-
6



82

tant, he seldom left me without expressions of
regret.

It certainly was by these, even more than by
all his many gifts and other acts of kindness to
me and my family, which we shall always re-
member with gratitude, that I was drawn to him,
and led to regard him with affection.

On Mr. Smith's return from his last European
tour, the congregation of the West Parish had
arranged a reception for him, in order to express
their congratulations on his prosperous voyage
and safe return ; also as a token of their respect
and esteem.

A severe cold prevented his attendance ;
therefore, the following resolutions were drawn
up and presented to him :

Resolved, That we greatly regret the illness
which prevents our much-esteemed friend, Dea-
con Smith, from meeting with us this evening,
to receive our congratulations upon his safe re-
turn from Europe.

Resolved, That we heartily reciprocate the kind



83

feelings toward us expressed in the note received
from him at this time.

Resolved^ That in the grateful recollection of
his faithful Christian services among us, as a
people, for almost fifty years, and of the great
assistance he has so freely given in maintaining
religious ordinances, we earnestly desire that he
may soon be restored to health, and may be per-
mitted long to dwell amongst us, enjoying, as
heretofore, the blessing of God.

As we have lifted the veil which hid from the
world his more quiet life in the parish and his
family, as we have even penetrated into the
sanctity of his meditations, let us* now look at
him in his wider sphere of usefulness and in-
fluence.

From the outset of his business life, he re-
solved to maintain an integrity and uprightness
in all his dealings, and to stand firm in his de-
fense of the right. His wisdom and keen judg-
ment were highly prized by all who knew him
in mercantile life.



84

The following resolutions, drawn up by the
corporation with which he was so long con-
nected, will show the estimation in which he
was held :

Whereas, in the providence of God, Deacon
Peter Smith, one of the original members of the
firm of Smith, Dove & Co., and the Treasurer
of the Smith & Dove Manufacturing Co. from
1864 to 1876, has been removed by death, we
are constrained to recognize the event as a
source of affliction to us, both in our corporate
and in our individual capacity ; therefore,

Resolved, that in his long and useful services,
in his superior business judgment, in his devo-
tion to the interests of this community and to
his adopted country, and in his unexcelled in-
tegrity of character, he has placed us under last-
ing obligations. We commend his example to
those upon whom will devolve the responsibili-
ties from which he has been finally called.

Mr. Smith was not a man who coveted the
favor of the world, or who sought for public
offices, yet he held positioris of trust and honor,



85

especially during the last twenty years of his
life. He was a corporate member of the
American Board, to which he contributed
largely. The annual meetings, which he always
planned to attend, he felt to be a great source
of enjoyment and spiritual profit.

In 1863 and 1864, he was a member of the
Legislature, and at the time of his death was
connected with various railroad corporations and
banking institutions.

At a meeting of the Directors of the Law-
rence National Bank, held July 6, 1880,

Resolved, That the decease of Deacon Peter
Smith, of Andover, one of our number, and Vice-
President of this bank, impels us to give public
expression to our feelings on the loss of one
who has been our associate since the formation
of the bank ; one whom we have ever found a
most agreeable companion, a wise and judicious
counselor, a valued friend, and a true type of
the Christian gentleman.

Of all the beauties of the natural world, per-



86

haps there was nothing which excited more ad-
miration in Mr. Smith, or awakened greater en-
thusiasm, than a floral display. It was always
one of his desires, when abroad, to transport
from foreign lands some rare specimen to add
to the beauty of his own grounds, thereby gath-
ering an unusual collection of rare and exquisite
plants.

He was a warm advocate and patron of the
Massachusetts Horticultural Society, always at-
tending their annual exhibitions, and sending
contributions from his own grounds. That his
membership was regarded as valuable to the
society the following summary of the estima-
tion of him as a man and a Christian will show :

" Mr. Smith has held a high position as an in-
telligent and successful manufacturer and mer-
chant. He was a man of remarkable integrity
and high-minded purposes, and in all his ac-
tions secured the implicit confidence of every
one. His rare wisdom and accurate judgment in
business affairs will be missed by those who so
often sought his advice. He was a benevolent



87

man ; his benefactions were many and in large
amount. Possessing abundant means, he con-
tributed liberally and cheerfully to such objects,
public and private, as commended themselves to
his judgment. His charities were carefully and
judiciously bestowed, and he will be remembered
with gratitude and affection by the numerous
recipients of his kindness and bounty.

" He was very fond of horticulture. His love
of flowers amounted almost to a passion. He
delighted to see them and to talk about them.
The choicest varieties of flowers and fruits blos-
somed and ripened in his garden and green-
houses.

" In all the relations of life, as the head of a
family, a citizen, and a Christian, he was univer-
sally respected and beloved."

Another society greatly enlisted the sympa-
thy and interest of Mr. Smith. Though so loyal
an American, so benevolent a contributor to her
educational and religious institutions and soci-
eties, he was ever ready to lend a helping hand
to anything that pertained to his native land.



88

On the record of the " Scots Charitable Society "
of Boston stands his name ; his death called forth
a touching tribute :

" In the death of Mr. Peter Smith this society
has lost one of its most valued members ; one
who, uniting in his person business sagacity and
enterprise, noble generosity, and Christian char-
acter, has left behind him an example his coun-
trymen may well emulate, and a memory they
will most profoundly cherish."

While he was casting his bread on many
waters, the town of Andover was not forgotten.
It will bear lasting memorials of his interest in
her welfare, of his pride in her progress. Dur-
ing his life, the cause of education was greatly
forwarded by his influence and his means.
Though not what would be termed an educated
man, he was a zealous friend to those institu-
tions whose aim it has been to fit men and
women to battle with the world.

To both of the seminaries and Phillips Acad-
emy he, in conjunction with his brother and Mr.
Dove, was a liberal donor. Brechin Hall, Me-



8 9

morial Hall, Smith Hall, and Phillips Academy
all stand as noble monuments to their gener-
osity.

The following letters from Rev. Mr. Furber,
then Secretary of the Alumni of the Theologi-
cal Seminary, acknowledging the gift of Brechin
Hall, and from Mr. Alpheus Hardy, President
of the Trustees, after receipt of his last donation,
in 1879, serve as witnesses that these gifts were
appreciated :

ANDOVER, August i, 1866.

MESSRS. JOHN SMITH, Peter Smith, and John
Dove, having given to the Theological Semi-
nary, Andover, the sum of thirty thousand dol-
lars for the erection of a Library Building, and
more recently the additional sum of thirty thou-
sand dollars to complete it, maintain it in repair,
and replenish the Library :

At a meeting of the Alumni of the institution,
this day held, the following minute was passed
by a unanimous vote :

We recognize in this gift of the Messrs. Smith
and Dove an act of noble Christian charity.

The largeness of the gift, its timeliness, and



9 o

the surpassing importance of its object, alike
commend it.

We regard it as a most fitting testimony on
the part of these gentlemen to the value of
sound theological learning, as well as a token
of confidence and affection towards this insti-
tution.

At the same time, it seems to us peculiarly
appropriate that this Brechin Hall should owe
its erection, and the Library its endowment, to
men who, born on Scottish soil and nourished
in their youth under the sacred influences which
pervade that land, have adopted our country as
their country, and this town of Andover as their
home.

The donation they have thus made, however,
we consider not as a gift to any one institution,
country, or place, but to the whole ministry of
our denomination, and to all the churches of
Christ himself, for whose glory our churches,
our institutions, and ourselves exist.

Most heartily do the Alumni of this Seminary
express their thanks to these gentlemen. And
most sincerely would we record our thanksgiv-



ings to God, who put it into their hearts to do
this so important and necessary work.

May this beautiful hall stand to coming gen-
erations as an enduring monument of an en-
lightened Christian forecast and Christian liber-
ality, and both the building and the fund pro-
vided to replenish the Library evermore be to
the glory of the grace of God. Yours, with re-
spect, D. L. FURBER.

BOSTON, November 24, 1879.

DEAR SIR, At a recent meeting of the
Board of Trustees of Phillips Academy at An-
dover, the Treasurer informed the Board that
you had paid your subscription of twenty thou-
sand dollars to the Centennial Endowment Fund
for Phillips Academy, to be applied to the
" Peter Smith Byers " foundation, to endow the
chair of the principal of the Academy ; where-
upon it was voted that the President and clerk
be authorized and instructed to express to you
their deep-felt gratitude and high appreciation
of your noble gift. This and other donations
so frequently repeated by you, the Trustees



92

fully esteem, and they also gratefully recognize
your potent influence with others from whom
the Academy and the Theological Seminary
have received liberal and timely aid.

These benefactions are not alone to your
neighbors, nor yet to the present generation, but
the distant and future ones are to be benefited
and blessed.

It is a rich privilege to reaffirm the wisdom of
the founders of these institutions in the words
that " knowledge and goodness united form the
noblest character, and lay the surest foundation
of usefulness to mankind. With esteem and re-
spect, cordially yours, ALPHEUS HARDY.

For some time Mr. Smith filled the office of
President of the Trustees of Abbott Academy ;
as member of the Trustee Board of Phillips
Academy and Theological Seminary, he was
active even to the last year of his life.

Since his death Mr. Hardy thus writes :

" The life and character of Peter Smith should
not be allowed to fade into the forgotten or for-



93

getting past There should be a record of it,
not merely to honor his memory, but to aid us
who remain, who may profit by his consistent
walk and conversation among his fellows.

" Few men have furnished so much fitting ma-
terial as he, out of which can be so easily cast a
noble example for the consideration of business
men, old and young. On my first acquaintance
with him, I was impressed by his Nathanael-like
character and bearing. His faith in God and in
His Word was implicit; his confidence in his
Redeemer can best be expressed in the words of
the disciple referred to, * Thou art the Son of
God.'

" His manner, apparently reserved, was but
the expression of his humble, modest simplicity.
The more I saw of him the more I regarded him
as a valued friend, a wise counselor, a Christian
brother. He, more than all others, led me to
accept a position I shrank from assuming.

"In his business relations he was strict in keep-
ing the lines of justice and generosity apart;
that he was generous no one can deny ; that he
was just all who ever had dealings with him will



94

admit. His generosity was the outgrowth of his
own deliberate thought.

" As a Trustee of Phillips Academy and The-
ological Seminary at Andover, he carefully
marked out his line of duty : where he thought
he could be useful and helpful, he acted ; when
he felt he could not be, he wisely abstained.
His practical suggestions and business habit
of thought were valuable to these institutions
in many ways ; often he advanced a wise hint,
with good effect, upon subjects outside of his
line of training.

" But for a rule established by the founders and
practiced by the early guardians of the Acad-
emy and Seminary, the Trustees would have
expressed by specific resolutions their high ap-
preciation of his services, and their admiration
of his manly Christian character. His gifts, and
those which were secured by his influence to the
Seminary and Academy, were numerous and
timely.

" Brechin Hall is a monument to him, to his
brother John, and to his partner John Dove. In
other ways they supplied deficiencies, thereby



95

enhancing the usefulness and increasing the
vigor of both schools.

" Peter Smith was a stranger to pride ; posi-
tions of trust and responsibility he valued only
as the means of greater usefulness*"

In the encouragement and aid he gave to the
cause of education in America, he did not forget
his obligations to Scotland. His obituary in a
Brechin paper thus speaks of him :

" Mr. Smith was one of those natives of
Brechin who have shed a lustre on the ancient
city. He was a true Scotsman of the best type,
and his long life of nearly eighty years has been
marked by independence, energy, industry, and
uprightness, qualities which have raised him to
a position of influence in his adopted country,
and have gained for him the respect and esteem
of all with whom he came in contact."

From one of his intimate Scottish friends
comes this additional testimonial :



9 6

" Any memorial of our dear friend, Mr. Peter
Smith, would be sadly incomplete without some
allusion to the frequent visits he made to his na-
tive town, Brechin, Scotland, and to the interest,
the deep and warm interest, he took in every
movement connected with the temporal and
spiritual welfare of its inhabitants.

" His friends in America know well how his
heart bounded with joy, how his face lit up and
shone with gladness, when Brechin or his
Brechin friends formed the subject of thought
and conversation. They know, also, how his
mind wandered back to boyhood's days ; how he
lived them over and over again in the land of
his adoption.

" Every visit he made, he seemed to enjoy it
more and more. Only on one occasion, during
all these years, did anything occur to mar the
pleasure of his journey : that was the death of
his daughter, in 1865.

" During one of his first visits, an excursion
was made with Brechin friends and his daughter,



97

who accompanied him from America, to Catter
Thun, a hill, famous for the remains of a Roman
encampment, being the nearest of the Grampian
range. How happy he was to get us all settled
at the top among the heather, facing the North,
looking down on the beautiful vale of Lethnot 1
He then pointed out to us the farm where he
had once lived ; the fields where he, as a * herd
laddie,' tended the cows. We were treated to
story after story of what took place in those old
days ; of the people with whom he came in con-
tact ; of the church he attended ; of the catechis-
ing by the minister, at the farm-house, when the
family and servants were all gathered in to have
their questions * speered.'

" No family has done more for the educational
interest of their native town than the Smith
family; for this their name will be mentioned
and honored in the Annals of Brechin for gen-
erations to come.

"About midsummer, 1856, Mr. John Smith,
who still survives his brother, wrote a letter to
the then Provost of Brechin, launching a scheme



98

to build school-rooms, one for boys, one for girls,
along with a teacher's house for the head teacher.
His brother, Mr. Peter Smith, and his partner,
Mr. John Dove, materially aided the movement,
and gave largely of their means towards its ac-
complishment.

" The schools, a very handsome and commo-
dious building, with teacher's house, tower, bell,
and illuminated clock, were erected on the Up-
per Hill Butts, now called Andover Hill, in honor
of their founders, that being the name of their
American home. They were opened in the year
1859, and have ever since proved a great success.
Several years after the opening, they were found
to be getting too small for the growing wants of
the community. Messrs. John and Peter Smith
again agreed, at their own expense, to have them
enlarged, which was done. Upwards of five
hundred children have been regularly getting
instruction within these buildings.

"Shortly after Mr. Smith's last visit, in the
summer of 1876, owing to what he had per-
sonally seen and learned regarding the benefi-
cial working of the ' Scotch Education Act,'



99

and after consultation with his brother, on his
return to America, they both agreed that it was
the right thing to do to hand over the buildings
to the Burgh School Board of Brechin. This
was accordingly done, with the reservation of
,1,000, with which to form the nucleus of a
Bursary Fund. Very shortly after this, these
two brothers, still desirous to do something fur-
ther for Brechin, transmitted 1,000 each, so as
to increase the fund to 3,000. The yearly in-
terest of this money is now under the control
of the Brechin School Board, and is called the
* Smith Brothers Bursary Fund.' This has al-
ready been, and will largely continue to be, a
stimulus to the education in Brechin.

"The Public Park, a place of recreation for the
working classes, received also a handsome dona-
tion at our friend's hands. The Young Men's
Christian Association was not forgotten, when
he was applied to for a subscription to aid in
building that institution in town. He was a
yearly contributor to our ' Coal Fund ; ' and
in many other cases did he show his warm at-
tachment to Brechin by giving of his means
when occasion required.



100

" Without exception, in all his periodical visits,
he delighted to worship in the church of his an-
cestors, and to sit in his father's old pew. The
burying-ground, in the old church-yard, was a
revered spot to him, and was regularly visited.
His brother and he, "some time ago, erected a
granite head-stone to mark the place where their
father lies. He delighted to walk the streets
and look upon the old place, and have a * crack '
with the friends of his youth, although these
friends, of later years, were getting fewer and
fewer. He used to visit the house where he was
born, and the school-room in the Lower Tene-
ments, near River Street, where, under his teacher,
Davie Mollison, he learned his * A B C's.'

" His Brechin home was at Esk Park, with his
dear old friend David Duke. These two were
like very brothers. They often together visited
Tarfside and Lochlee, and had many a pleasant
ramble. They kept up a close correspondence,
and had much enjoyment in each other's com-
pany. Now they are reunited in the better
land."



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.



CHAPTER IV.

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.

MORE of such testimony might be given, but
this is enough, too much, perhaps, to be in
keeping with the modesty of the man.

Our friend was not one of them " who seek
honor one of another." So far from praising
himself, he hardly assented to Solomon's say-
ing, " Let another man praise thee."

We were present in the public assembly when
the speakers showered compliments upon him,
and ingeniously endeavored to bring him to his
feet by way of replies, while he, with a bowed
head, covering his face with his hand, "answered
them not a word." In this connection, as well
as in any other, it may be well to answer a
question which will probably arise. How comes
it to pass that a man of such marked modesty
has so much to say of himself? All the way
through his history, from first to last, he seems



104

to have had a shrinking back from anything
that would bring himself to the front ; to avoid
" the very appearance " of anything like " vain-
glorying." It was his way not to talk of his own
affairs ; if ever there was a reticent man, Mr.
Smith was that man. It was as if he had al-
ways before him the Master's saying, " He that
speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory."

Who of all his children and grandchildren
that were with him abroad or in this country, at


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Online LibraryPeter SmithMemorials of Peter Smith. Born, Brechin, Scotland, Sept. 21, 1802. Died, Andover, Mass., July 6, 1880 → online text (page 4 of 6)