Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

Recollections of a lifetime : or men and things I have seen ; in a series of familiar letters to a friend ; historical, biographical, anecdotical, and descriptive (Volume 1) online

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Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichRecollections of a lifetime : or men and things I have seen ; in a series of familiar letters to a friend ; historical, biographical, anecdotical, and descriptive (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 38)
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THE NEW YOR-

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RECOLLECTIONS



OF

^ A LIFETIME,



OR

MEN AND THINGS I HAVE SEEN:

IX A 8EEIES OF

FAMILIAR LETTERS TO A FRIEND,

HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, ANECDOTICAL, AND

DESCRIPTIVE.



BY S. G. GOODRICH.



v,|



NEW YORK AND AUBURN:
MILLER, ORTON AND MULLIGAN

New York, 25 Park Bow: — Auburn, 107 Genesee-st.
M DCCC LVI.



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[ H E N ->■ O R K

PUBLIC LIBRAE Y|
162985

ASTOR. LFNOX AND
TILDE N FOUNDATIONS.

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S56,

By S. G. GOODRICH,

Tn the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern

District of New York.



R. C. VALENTINE,

Stereottper asd Electrotyftst,

17 Dutcb-st., cor. Fulton,

New York.



C. A. ALVORD, Prixter,
No. 15 Vandewater Street, N. Y.



PREFATORY NOTE.



The first Letter in the ensuing pages will
inform the reader as to the origin of these vol-
umes, and the leading ideas of the author in
writing them. It is necessary to state, how-
ever, that although the work was begun two
years since — as indicated by the date of the
first of these Letters, and while the author
was residing abroad — a considerable portion
of it has been written within the last year,
and since his return to America. This state-
ment is necessary, in order to explain several
passages which will be found scattered through
its pages.

New York, September, 1856.



ENGEAVINGS.



VOL. I.

Portrait of the Author Frontispiece

From the Medallion presented to him by the American citizens in Paris,
— on steel, engraved by Eitchie.

PAGE

Aunt Delight 86

Making Mafxe Sugar 68

"Whittling 94

Catching Pigeons 100

How are you, Priest ? How are you, Democrat ? 130

The Jerking Exercise 202

Deacon Olmstead 222

Grace Ingersoll at the Court of Napoleon 26v

The Hermitess 294

First Adventure upon the Sea 342

The Cold Friday 394

Peace ! Peace ! 505



VOL. II.

George Cabot 36

Emigration in 1817 . .». 80

Percival 132

Brainard writing " Fall of Niagara" 148

Sir "Walter Scott, Clerk of the Court of Sessions 176

Edinburgh 180

England 214

Byron's Coffin 250

These are God's Spelling-book 809

The Student 433

View in Paris 502

Kome 525



CONTENTS



LETTER I.
Introductory and explanatory 9

LETTER II.

Geography and chronology — The old brown house — Grandfathers —
Ridgefield — The meeting-house — Parson Mead — Keeler's tavern —
Lieutenant Smith — The cannon-ball 15

LETTER III.

The first remembered event — High Ridge — The spy-glass — Sea and
Mountain — The peel — The black patch in the road 24

LETTER IV.

Education in New England — The burial-ground of the suicide — West
Lane— Old Chichester — The school-house — The first day at school —
Aunt Delight — Lewis Olmstead — A return after twenty years — Peter
Parley and Mother Goose 30

LETTER V.

The joyous nature of childhood — Drawbacks — The small-pox — The pest-
house — Our house a hospital — Inoculation — The force of early impres-
sions — Rogers' Pleasures of Memory — My first whistle — My sister's
recollections of a Sunday afternoon — The song of Kalewala — Poetic
character of early life — Obligations to make childhood happy. ... 41

LETTER VI.

The inner life of towns — Physical aspect and character of Ridgefield —
Effects of cultivation upon climate — Energetic character of the first
settlers of Ridgefield — Classes of the people as to descent — Their oc-
cupations — Newspapers — Position of my father's family — Management
of the farm — Domestic economy, &c 56

LETTER VII.

Domestic habits of the people — Meals — Servants and masters — Dress —
Amusements — Festivals — Marriages — Funerals — Dancing — Winter
Sports — Up and down — My two grandmothers 83



O CONTENTS.

LETTER Till.

Interest in mechanical devices — Agriculture — My parents design me for
a carpenter — The dawn of the age of invention — Fulton, &c. — Per-
petual motion — Whittling — Gentlemen — St. Paul, King Alfred, Dan-
iel Webster, &c. — Desire of improvement, a New England character-
istic — Hunting — The bow and arrow — The fowling-piece — Pigeons —
Anecdote of Parson M.... — Audubon and Wilson — The passenger
pigeon — Sporting rambles— The blacksnake and screech-owl — Fishing
— Advantages of country life and country training 90

LETTER IX.

Death of Washington — Jefferson and democracy — Eidgefield the great
thoroughfare between New York and Boston — Jerome Bonaparte and
his young wife — Oliver Wolcott, Governor Treadwell, and Deacon
Olmstead — Inauguration of Jefferson — Jerry Mead and Ensign Keeler
— Democracy and federalism — Charter of Charles II. — Elizur Good-
rich, Deacon Bishop, and President Jefferson — Abraham Bishop and
" about enough democracy" 106

LETTER X.

How people traveled fifty years ago — Timothy Pickering — Manners along
the road — Jefferson and shoe-strings — Mr. Priest and Mr. Democrat
— Barbers at Washington — James Madison and the queue — Winter
and sleighing — Comfortable meeting-houses — The stove-party and the
anti-stove party — The first chaise built in Eidgefield 126

LETTER XL

Up-town and Down-town — East End and West End — Master Stebbins
— A model schoolmaster — The school-house — Administration of the
school — Zeek Sanford — School-books — Arithmetic — History — Gram-
mar — Anecdote of G II — Country schools of New England

in these days — Master Stebbins's scholars 138

LETTER XII.

Horsemanship — Bige Benedict — A dead shot — A race — Academical hon-
ors — Charles Chatterbox — My father's school — My exercises in Latin —
Tityre tu patulge, etc. — Rambles — Literary aspirations — My mother —
Family worship — Standing and kneeling at prayer — Anecdotes — Our
Philistine temple ^ 147

LETTER XIII.

My father's library — Children's books — The New England Primer and
Westminster Catechism — Toy books — Nursery books — Moral effect of
these — Hannah More's Moral Repository— The Shepherd of Salisbury
Plain — Visit to Barley-wood — First idea of the Parley books — Impres-
sions of big books and little books 164



I



CONTENTS. 7

LETTER XIV.

The clergymen of Fairfield county — Their character and manners— An-
ecdote of the laughing D. D. — The coming storm 175

LETTER XV.

Ideas of the Pilgrim Fathers — Progress of toleration — Episcopacy — Bish-
op Seabury — Dr. Duche — Methodism in America — In Connecticut —
Anecdotes— Lorenzo Dow — The wolf in my father's fold 186

LETTER XVL
The three deacons 218

LETTER XVIL

The federalist and the democrat — Colonel Bradley and General King —
Comparison of New England with European villages 229

LETTER XVIII.

The Ingersolls — Eev. Jonathan Ingersoll — Lieutenant-governor Inger-
soll — New Haven belles — A chivalrous Virginian among the Connec-
ticut D. D.'s — Grace Ingersoll — A New Haven girl at Napoleon's Court
— Real romance — A Puritan in a convent 248

LETTER XIX.

Mat Olmstead, the town wit — The Salamander hat — The great eclipse —
Sharp logic — Lieutenant Smith, the town philosopher — The purchase
of Louisiana — Lewis and Clarke's exploring expedition — The great
meteor — Hamilton and Burr — The Leopard and the Chesapeake — Ful-
ton's steamboats — Granther Baldwin — Sarah Bishop 265

LETTER XX.

A long farewell — A return — Ridgefield as it is — The past and present
compared 299

LETTER XXI.

Farewell to Ridgefield — Farewell to home — Danbury — My new vocation
— A revolutionary patriarch — Life in a country store — Homesickness
— My brother-in-law — Lawyer Hatch 323

LETTER XXII.

Visit to New Haven — The city — Yale College — My uncle's house — John
Allen — First sail on the sea — The Court-house — Dr. D wight — Pro-
fessor Silliman — Chemistry, mineralogy, geology — Anecdote of Colo-
nel Gibbs — Eli Whitney — The cotton-gin — The gun-factory 38*

33&

LETTER XXIII.

Durham — History of Connecticut — Distinguished families of Durham —
The Chaunceys, Wadsworths, Lymans, Austins — Woodbury — How
romance becomes history — Rev. Noah Benedict — Judge Smith . . 368



8 CONTENTS.

LETTER XXIV.

The cold winter and a sharp ride — Description of Danbury — The hat
manufactory — The Sandimanians — Gen.Wooster's monument — Death
of my brother-in-law — Master White — Mathematics 393

LETTER XXY.

Farewell to Danbury — Hartford — My first master and bis family — Me-
rino sheep — A wind-up — Another change — My new employer — A new
era in life — George Sheldon — Franklin's biography 403

LETTER XXVI.

My situation under my new master — Discontent — Humiliating discove-
ries — Desire to quit trade and go to college — 'Undertake to re-educate
myself — A long struggle — Partial success — Infidelity — The world with-
out a God — Return after long wanderings 417

LETTER XXVII.

Hartford forty years ago — The Hartford wits — Hartford at the present
time — The declaration of war in 1812 — Baltimore riots — Feeling in
New England — Embargo — Non-intercourse, &c. — Democratic doc-
trine that opposition is treason 435

LETTER XXVIII.

Specks of war in the atmosphere — The first year — Operations on land
and water — The wickedness of the federalists — The second year — The
Connecticut militia — Decatur driven into the Thames — Connecticut
in trouble — I become a soldier — My first and last campaign 451

LETTER XXIX.

Description of New London— Fort Trumbull— Fort Griswold — The Brit-
ish fleet — Decatur and his ships in the Thames — Commodore Hardy
— On guard — A suspicious customer — Alarm, alarm ! — Influence of
camp life — Return to Hartford — Land-warrants — Blue-lights — Deca-
tur, Biddle, and Jones 466

LETTER XXX.

Continuation of the war— The Creeks subdued— Battles of Chippewa and
Bridgewater — Capture of Washington — Bladensburg races — Scarcity
of money — Rag money — Bankruptcy of the national treasury — The
specie bank-note, or Mr. Sharp and Mr. Sharper— Universal gloom-
State of New England— Anxiety of the Administration— Their instruc-
tions to the Peace Commissioners— Battle of New Orleans— Peace-
Illuminations and rejoicings 488

APPENDIX 515



RECOLLECTIONS OF A LIFETIME,

IN A SERIES OF

FAMILIAR LETTERS TO A FRIEND.



LETTER I.

Introductory and Explanatory.
My dear C ***** *

A little thin sheet of paper, with a frail wafer
seal, and inscribed with various hieroglyphical sym-
bols, among which I see the postmark of Albany,
has just been laid upon my table. I have opened it,
and find it to be a second letter from you. Think
of the pilgrimage of this innocent waif, unprotected
save by faith in man and the mail, setting out upon a
voyage from the banks of the Hudson, and coming
straight to me at Courbevoie, just without the walls
of Paris, a distance of three thousand miles !

And yet this miracle is wrought every day, every
hour. I am lingering here, partly because I have
taken a lease of a house and furnished it, and there-
fore I can not well afford to leave it at present. I
am pursuing my literary labors, and such are the fa-

1*



10 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL,

cilities of intercourse, by means of these little red-
lipped messengers, like this I have just received
from you, that I can almost as well prosecute my
labors here as at home. Could I get rid of all those
associations which bind a man to his birth-land ;
could I appease that consciousness which whispers in
my ear, that the allegiance of every true man, free to
follow his choice, is due to his country and his kin-
dred, I might perhaps continue here for the remain-
der of my life.

My little pavilion, situated upon an elevated slope
formed of the upper bank of the Seine, gives me
a view of the unrivaled valley that winds between
Saint Cloud and Asnieres ; it shows me Paris in the
near distance — Montmartre to the left, and the Arch
of Triumph to the right. In the rear, close at hand,
is our suburban village, having the aspect of a little
withered city. Around are several chateaus, and from
the terraced roof of my house — which is arranged for
a promenade — I can look into their gardens and pleas-
ure-grounds, sparkling with fountains and glowing
with fruits and flowers. A walk of a few rods brings
me to the bank of the Seine, where boatmen are ever
ready to give the pleasure-seeker a row or a sail ; in
ten minutes by rail, or an hour on foot, I can be in
Paris. In about the same time I may be sauntering
in the Avenue de Neuilly, the Bois de Boulogne, or
the galleries of Versailles. My rent is but about four
hundred dollars a year, with the freedom of the gar-



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 11



dens and grounds of the chateau, of which my resi-
dence is an appendage. It is the nature of this cli-
mate to bring no excessive cold and no extreme heat.
You may sit upon the grass till midnight of a summer
evening, and fear no chills or fever; no troops of flies,
instinctively knowing your weak point, settle upon
your nose and disturb your morning nap or your
afternoon siesta ; no elvish mosquitoes invade the
sanctity of your sleep, and force you to listen to their
detestable serenade, and then make you pay for it, as
if you had ordered the entertainment. If there be a
place on earth combining economy and comfort —
where one may be quiet, and yet in the very midst of
life — it is here. Why, then, should I not remain ?
In one word, because I would rather be at home. This
is, indeed, a charming country, but it is not mine. I
could never reconcile myself to the idea of spending
my life in a foreign land.

I am therefore preparing to return to New York
the next summer, with the intention of making that
city my permanent residence. In the mean time, I
am not idle, for, as you know, the needs of my fam-
ily require me to continue grinding at the mill. Be-
sides one or two other trifling engagements, I have
actually determined upon carrying out your suggestion,
that I should write a memoir of my life and times —
a panorama of my observations and experience. You
encourage me with the idea that an account of my
life, common-place as it has been, will find readers,



12 LETTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL,

and at the same time, your recommendation naturally
suggests a form in which this may be given to the
public, divested of the air of egotism which gener-
ally belongs to autobiography. I may write my his-
tory in the form of letters to you, and thus tell a
familiar story in a familiar way — to an old friend.

I take due note of what you recommend — that I
should make my work essentially a personal narra-
tive. You suggest that so long as the great study
of mankind is man, so long any life — supposing it to
be not positively vicious — if truly and frankly por-
trayed, will prove amusing, perhaps instructive. I
admit the force of this, and it has its due influence
upon me ; but still I shall not make my book, either
wholly or mainly, a personal memoir. I have no
grudges to gratify, no by-blows to give, no apologies
to make, no explanations to offer — at least none
which could reasonably find place in a work like
this. I have no ambition which could be subserved
by a*publication of a merely personal nature : to con-
fess the truth, I should rather feel a sense of humilia-
tion at appearing thus in print, as it would inevitably
suggest the idea of pretense beyond performance.

What I propose is this : venturing to presume upon
your sympathy thus far, I invite you to go with me,
in imagination, over the principal scenes I have wit-
nessed, while I endeavor to make you share in the im-
pressions they produced upon my own mind. Thus
I shall carry you back to my early days, to my native



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 13

village, the " sweet Auburn" of- my young fancy, and
present to you the homely country life in which I
was born and bred. Those pastoral scenes were epics
to my childhood ; and though the heroes and hero-
ines consisted mainly of the deacons of my father's
church and the school-ma'ams that taught me to read
and write, I shall still hope to inspire you with a por-
tion of the loving reverence with which I regard their
memories. I shall endeavor to interest you in some
of the household customs of our New England coun-
try life, fifty years ago, when the Adams delved and
the Eves span, and thought it no stain upon their
gentility. I 'shall let you into the intimacy of my
boyhood, and permit you to witness my failures as
well as my triumphs. In this the first stage of my
career, I shall rely upon your good nature, in per-
mitting me to tell my story in my own way. If I
make these early scenes and incidents the themes of
a little moralizing, I hope for your indulgence.

From this period, as the horizon of my experience
becomes somewhat enlarged, I may hope to interest
you in the topics that naturally come under review.
As you are well acquainted with the outline of my life,
I do not deem it necessary to forewarn you that my
history presents little that is out of the beaten track of
common experience. I have no marvels to tell, no
secrets to unfold, no riddles to solve. It is true
that in the course of a long and busy career, I have
seen a variety of men and things, and had my share



14: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL



J



of vicissitudes in the shifting drama of life ; still the
interest of my story mnst depend less npon the im-
portance of my revelations than the sympathy which
naturally belongs to a personal narrative. I am per-
fectly aware that in regard to many of the events I
shall have occasion to describe, many 'of the scenes I
shall portray, many of the characters I shall bring
upon the stas;e, my connection was onlv that of' a
spectator ; nevertheless, I shall hope to impart to
them a certain life and reality by arranging them
continuous!}^ upon the thread of my remembrances.

This, then, is my preface ; as the wind and weather
of my humor shall favor, I intend to proceed and
send you letter by letter as I write. After a few spe-
cimens, I shall ask your opinion ; if favorable, I shall
. go on, if otherwise, I shall abandon the enterprise.
I am determined, if I publish the work, to make you
responsible for my success before the public.

S. Gr. Goodrich.

COUEBEVOIE, NEAE PAEIS, JlTNE, 1854.



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 15



LETTER II.

Geography and Chronology — The Old Broion House— Grandfathers—
Ridgefield—The Meeting -House— Parson Mead—Keeler 's Tavern— Lieu-
tenant Smith — The Cannon-Bcdl.

My dear ***** *

It is said that geography and chronology are
the two eyes of history : hence, I suppose that in any
narrative which pretends to be in some degree histor-
ical, the when and where, as well as the how, should
be distinctly presented. I am aware that a large part
of mankind are wholly deficient in the bump of lo-
cality, and march through the world in utter indiffer-
ence as to whether they are going north or south,
east or west. With these, the sun may rise and set as
it pleases, at any point of the compass ; but for my-
self, I could never be happy, even in my bedroom
or study, without knowing which way was north.
You will expect, therefore, that in beginning my
story, I make you distinctly acquainted with the
place' where I was born, as well as the objects which
immediately surrounded it. If, indeed, throughout
my narrative, I habitually regard geography and
chronology as essential elements of a story, you will
at least understand that it is done by design and not
by accident.

In the western part of the State of Connecticut, is



16 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL,

a small town by the name of Ridgefield.* This title
is descriptive, and indicates the general form and po-
sition of the place. It is, in fact, a collection of hills,
rolled into one general and commanding elevation.
On the west is a ridge of mountains, forming the
boundary between the States of Connecticut and New
York ; to the south the land spreads out in wooded
undulations to Long Island Sound ; east and north, a
succession of hills, some rising up against the sky, and
others fading away in the distance, bound the horizon.
In this town, in an antiquated and rather dilapidated
house of shingles and clapboards, I was born on the
19th of August, 1793.

My father, Samuel Goodrich, was minister of the
First Congregational Church of that place, there be-
ing then, no other religious society and no other cler-
gyman in the town, except at Eidgebury — the remote
northern section, which was a separate parish. He
was the son of Elizur Goodrich, f a distinguished min-
ister of the same persuasion, at Durham, Connecticut.
Two of his brothers were men of eminence — the late
Chauncey Goodrich of Hartford, and Elizur Goodrich
of New Haven. My mother was a daughter of John
Ely,^: a physician of Say brook, whose name figures
not unworthily in the 'annals of the revolutionary
war.

I was the sixth child of a family of ten children,

* See Note I., p. 515. + See Note II., p. 523. J See Note III., p. 533.



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 17

two of whom died in infancy, and" eight of whom
lived to be married and settled in life. All but two
of the latter are still living. My father's annual salary
for the first twenty-five years, and during his minis-
try at Eidgefield, averaged £120, old currency — that
is, about four hundred dollars a year : the last twenty-
five years, during which he was settled at Berlin, near
Hartford, his stipend was about five hundred dollars, a
year. He was wholly without patrimony, and owing
to peculiar circumstances, which will be hereafter ex-
plained, my mother had not even the ordinary outfit,
as they began their married life. Yet they so brought
up their family of eight children, that they all attained
respectable positions in life, and at my father's death,
he left an estate of four thousand dollars.* These
facts throw light upon the simple annals of a country
clergyman in Connecticut, half a century ago ; they
also bear testimony to the thrifty energy and wise fru-
gality of my parents, and especially of my mother,
who was the guardian deity of the household.

Eidgefieldf belongs to the county of Fairfield, and is
now a handsome town, as well on account of its arti-
ficial as its natural advantages — with some 2000 in-
habitants. It is fourteen miles from Long Island
Sound' — of which its many swelling hills afford charm-



* One thousand of this was received, a short time before the death of
my parents, for the revolutionary services of my maternal grandfather.

t For an account of the present condition of Eidgefield, see letter to
C. A. Goodrich, page 300.



18 LETTEES BIOGRAPHICAL,

ing views. The main street is a mile in length, and
is now embellished with several handsome honses.
About the middle of it there is, or was, some forty
years ago, a white wooden meeting-house, which be-
longed to my father's congregation. It stood in a
small grassy square, the favorite pasture of numerous
flocks of geese, and the frequent playground of school-
boys, especially of Saturday afternoons. Close by the
front door ran the public road, and the pulpit, facing
it, looked out upon it, in fair summer Sundays, as I
well remember by a somewhat amusing incident.

In the contiguous town of Lower Salem, dwelt an
aged minister by the name of Mead. He was all his
life marked with eccentricity,, and about these days
of which I speak, his mind was rendered yet more
erratic by a touch of paralysis. He was, however,
still able to preach, and on a certain Sunday, having
exchanged with my father, he was in the pulpit and
engaged in making his opening prayer. He had

already begun his invocation, when David P ,

who was the Jehu of that generation, dashed by
the front door, upon a horse — a clever animal of
which he was but too proud — in a full, round trot.
The echo of the clattering hoofs filled the church,
— which being of shingles and clapboards was sono-
rous as a drum — and arrested the attention as well of



Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichRecollections of a lifetime : or men and things I have seen ; in a series of familiar letters to a friend ; historical, biographical, anecdotical, and descriptive (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 38)