Episodes of Boston Commerce

EMERSON was more than a maker of pleasant phrases when he wrote of his birthplace —

“ Each street leads downward to the sea
Or landward to the west.”

Down these streets, and out into the widest world, some of the people of Boston may well be followed, not only for the light they throw upon the town itself, but because their work typifies what may be done by men who carry a local spirit abroad, and enrich their native place by what they bring back to it.

Followers of the sea more than the people of any other place in America before,the Revolution, the men of Boston could not but return, in the general restoring of normal conditions, to their interest in maritime affairs. How could it be otherwise? At their very feet lay the inviting bay, with its best, of harbors, safe from the sea, of which it is less an arm than a shoulder. At their very doors lay all the materials for shipbuilding. How entirely the Constitution, finished in 1797, was a homemade vessel, and therein a typical product, Mr. H. A. Hill has pointed out in his monograph on Boston commerce: “ Paul Revere furnished the copper, bolts and spikes, drawn from malleable copper by a process then new; and Ephraim Thayer, who had a shop at the South End, made the gun-carriages for the frigate. Her sails were made in the Granary building at the corner of Park and Tremont streets; no other building in Boston was large enough for the purpose. There were then fourteen ropewalks in Boston, so that there could be no difficulty in obtaining cordage; and there was an incorporated company for the manufacture of sailcloth, whose factory was on the corner of Tremont and Boylston streets, and which was encouraged by a bounty on its product from the General Court; this product had increased to eighty or ninety thousand yards per annum, and is said to have competed successfully with the duck brought from abroad. The anchors came from Hanover in Plymouth County, and a portion of the timber used in what was then looked upon as a mammoth vessel was taken from the woods of Allentown, on the borders of the Merrimac, fifty miles away,” Surely the provocation to seafaring was sufficiently strong.

All this was in the Revolutionary century. With the coming of peace it might have been expected that the doors of commerce would be thrown immediately open. Yet it would have been hardly human for the mother country to smooth any paths for the child that had cast off all parental authority. The British West India trade was of course subject to English legislation. It was not long before the merchants of Boston, as of all our ports, found themselves forbidden to bring their fish to the islands or to carry the island products to England. These products, if brought first to New England, could not even be carried to England in British ships. This prohibition was followed in 1784 by that of exporting anything from the West Indies to the United States except in British vessels. Here the citizens of Boston asserted themselves, and entered as of old into agreement to buy none of the wares so imported. The Massachusetts legislature passed measures of retaliation ; and the national laws of navigation and commerce reflected for some years the British policy of restriction. If success is determined by obstacles, the commercial enterprise of Boston could not have had a more favorable beginning.

Not content with the difficulties nearest home, the merchants of America, in the earliest days of peace, began turning their eyes to the distant trade of China. To New York belongs the credit of sending out the first vessel in this trade, the Empress of the Seas, which set sail for Canton in February of 1784, and was back in New York in May of the next year. Her supercargo was a Boston youth of twenty, Samuel Shaw by name, whose service on General Knox’s staff in the Revolution had already won him the rank of major. In his journal of the outward voyage he tells of landing at St. Jago, an island of the Cape de Verde group. The officer of the port was a Portuguese. “On telling him,” says Shaw, “ by the interpreter, a negro, that we were Americans, he discovered great satisfaction, and exclaimed, with an air of pleasure and surprise, ‘Bostonian! Bostonian ! ’ ” With this — and the Boston supercargo — to remember, the New England town may comfortably orient herself with the first of the Chinese traders.

It was not long, however, before the town could claim as her own a commercial venture of the first importance and magnitude. The journals of Captain Cook, the navigator, were published in 1784. Through them the great possibilities of the fur trade on the northwest coast of America were made known. Five Boston merchants, including the Bulfinch whose architecture still dominates the local landscape, and one merchant of New York, joined themselves to enter this new field. The vessels they secured for the expedition were two: the Columbia, a full rigged ship of two hundred and twelve tons, eighty-three feet in length; and the Washington, a sloop of ninety tons. Let those who dread six days of the Atlantic on liners of fifteen thousand tons’ burden stop a moment and picture these cockleshells — as they must appear to-day — and the spirit of the men who embarked in them for the North Pacific, and — in the Columbia — for the complete circling of the globe. Before they set sail, September 30, 1787, they provided themselves plentifully with silver, bronze, and pewter medals commemorating the expedition, and with useful tools and useless trinkets, jews’-harps, snuff-boxes, and the like. Rounding the Horn, and sailing northward, it was the little Washington which first reached the northwest coast. While waiting for the Columbia, the sloop’s crew had an encounter with natives who gave them good reason to call their anchorage “Murderers’ Harbor.” Then the Columbia came, with scurvy on board. But the cargo of furs was secured, and, in pursuance of the owners’ plan, was carried to Canton for sale. Stopping on the way at Hawaii, Captain Gray took on board the Columbia a young chief, Attoo, promising to send him back from Boston as soon as might be. From China the ship, loaded with teas, sailed for home by way of the Cape of Good Hope. In August of 1790 she dropped anchor in Boston harbor, the first American vessel to circumnavigate the earth. There were salutes from the castle and the town artillery, formal greetings by the collector of the port and Governor Hancock. Beside Captain Gray, young Attoo marched up State Street, wearing “a helmet of gay feathers, which glittered in the sunlight, and an exquisite cloak of the same yellow and scarlet plumage.” Never before had the ends of the earth and the “ happy town beside the sea ” been brought so near together.

In spite of the fact that this unprecedented voyage of the Columbia was not a financial success, four of her six owners proved their faith in the undertaking by sending her directly back to the northwest coast. This second voyage, on which she sailed September 28, 1790, was destined to write the good ship’s name on the map of the country. It was nearly two years later when, having taken Attoo back to Hawaii in the humble capacity of cabin boy, and having spent a winter on the coast, Captain Gray, cruising to the southward, saw what he took to be the mouth of a mighty river. There were breakers to warn him against entering it. To this forbidding aspect of things we may owe the entry in Vancouver’s journal at the same point: “Not considering this opening worthy of more attention, I continued our pursuit to the northwest.” For Captain Gray the breakers were an obstacle only to be overcome. After several efforts he drove the ship through them, and found himself in a noble stream of fresh water. Up this river he sailed some twenty-four miles, and having assured himself that he might continue farther if he chose, returned to the sea. The headlands at the mouth of the river he named, like a true son of Boston, Cape Hancock and Point Adams. He raised the American flag, buried some coins of his young country, and named the river after his vessel, the Columbia. Upon this discovery and the explorations of Lewis and Clark in the next decade, the American government based its successful claim to the Oregon country. Yet for the Boston merchants whose enterprise wrought such momentous results, the second voyage, like the first, was but a small success. In spite of the abundant salutes and cheers which greeted the Columbia when she sailed into Boston harbor in July of 1793, the ship and her inventory were sold at once by auction at a Charlestown wharf. It was hers, however, to open the way to an important commerce. In the years immediately following, a lucrative trade, largely in the hands of Boston merchants, was carried on in direct pursuance of the Columbia’s example, even in the matter of circumnavigation with stops at the Sandwich Islands and China.

The slender tonnage of such vessels as the Columbia and the Washington allies them closely with the infancy of commerce. From the extreme youthfulness of many of the shipmasters and supercargoes of Boston ships sailing to distant seas, the reader of later years draws the same impression of beginnings. Mere boys found themselves filling posts of responsibility, which could not but bring the man in them to the quickest possible development. Edward Everett, in his sketch of the chief marine underwriter of the early days of Boston commerce, has given us this bit of record: “ The writer of this memoir knows an instance which occurred at the beginning of this century, — and the individual concerned, a wealthy and respected banker of Boston, is still living among us, — in which a youth of nineteen commanded a ship on her voyage from Calcutta to Boston, with nothing in the shape of a chart on board but the small map of the world in Guthrie’s Geography.” In the service of the Messrs. Perkins, John P. Cushing went out to China, at the age of sixteen, in 1803, as clerk to the agent of the firm’s business, a man but little older than himself. This superior in office soon died, leaving to young Cushing’s care the conduct of large sales and purchases, which he managed so well and promptly as to win himself a place in the important firm. Captain Robert Bennet Forbes, another nephew of the Messrs. Perkins, and a typical merchant of the somewhat later time in which he flourished, gives this summary of his early career: “At the age of sixteen I filled a man’s place as third mate; at the age of twenty, I was promoted to a command ; at the age of twenty-six, I commanded my own ship; at twenty-eight, I abandoned the sea as a profession; at thirty-six, I was at the head of the largest American house in China.” This was the boy who at thirteen began his nautical life “with a capital consisting of a Testament, a ‘ Bowditch, ’ a quadrant, a chest of sea clothes, and a mother’s blessing.” To this equipment should be added the advice of another uncle, Captain William Sturgis: “Always go straight forward, and if you meet the devil cut him in two, and go between the pieces; if any one imposes on you, tell him to whistle against a northwester and to bottle up moonshine.” It was a rough, effective training to which the boys like young Bennet Forbes were put. If, in instances like his own, family influence had its weight, — for his kinsmen, the Perkinses, Sturgises, Russells, and others, were long in virtual control of the China trade, — yet the youths to whom opportunity came were equal to it. We are used to hearing our own age called that of the young man. These Boston boys, and Farragut in command of a prize at twelve, spare us the burden of providing precedents for the future.

Over against these triumphs of youth may well be set another picture, taken from the memoir by Edward Everett already drawn upon. He writes of Thomas Russell, who died in 1796, the pioneer of the Russian trade, the foremost merchant of his time : “According to the fashion of the day, he generally appeared on ’change in full dress ; which implied at that time, for elderly persons, usually a coat of some light-colored cloth, small-clothes, diamond or paste buckles at the knee and in the shoes, silk stockings, powdered hair, and a cocked hat; in cold weather, a scarlet cloak. A scarlet cloak and a white head were, in the last century, to be seen at the end of every pew in some of the Boston churches.” Thus between land and sea, youth and age, the balance of picturesqueness is fairly struck; and withal there is a suggestion of Old World dignity without which any impression of the early Boston merchants would be incomplete.

It is not to one of these dignified gentlemen that one looks for such projects as Lord Timothy Dexter’s proverbial shipping of warming-pans to the tropics. Yet it was a Boston merchant, Frederick Tudor, who began to carry the peculiarly Northern commodity of ice to the West Indies. Even at the centre of “Yankee notions,” he was regarded as a person of unbridled fancy. The story of this traffic in ice is indeed sufficiently strange. As related chiefly in an old number of Scribner’s Monthly, it is that in 1805 a plague of yellow fever wrought havoc in the West India Islands. Mr. Tudor saw how grievously ice was needed, and determined to supply it. Cutting two or three hundred tons from a pond at Saugus, he had it hauled to Charlestown, and loaded the brig Favorite for Martinique. This, in his own words, “excited the derision of the whole town as a mad project. ” Ridicule and opposition, however, were the surest means of fixing his purpose. Though at first without financial success, he proved that ice could be carried to a warm climate. Then the British government saw what cooling benefits might thus be brought to its West Indian subjects. Accordingly Mr. Tudor secured the monopoly, with further special advantages, for the sale of ice in Jamaica. At Kingston he built his ice houses. Havana and other Cuban ports were opened to him on similar terms. By degrees he built up also a large traffic with our own Southern cities, — Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. Then followed, in 1833, at the request of English and American merchants in Calcutta, the “ice-king’s” invasion of the Far East. From small beginnings the ice trade with Calcutta grew to proportions which made it long an important element in holding for Boston the supremacy in all the commerce between Calcutta and the United States. Rio Janeiro must be added to the list of tropical cities to which the Tudor ships carried their cargoes of ice. The bald recital of the facts in the story of this merchant’s success is sufficient to stir the imagination. To do such things with the tools at hand — sailing vessels and none of the modern implements of labor-saving — called for a species of ability in which imagination itself must have played no trifling part.

It may be that this quality of imagination was lacking in the Boston and Salem merchants who attempted in 1842 to introduce American ice into London. One of them tried to attain this end by demonstrating the merits of iced American drinks. He hired a hall — as the story goes — and trained a number of men to mix the cool beverages of his native land. The members of the Fishmongers’ Association — presumably as fond of turtle as aldermen themselves—were the guests. The waiters made an imposing entry, but alas, the first sound that met the ear of the American “promoter,” expecting a chorus of approval, was that of an English voice calling for hot water, and saying, “ I prefer it ’alf ’n’ ’alf.” The American completes the story: “I made a dead rush for the door, next day settled my bills in London, took train for Liverpool and the steamer for Boston, and counted up a clear loss of $1200.”

The counting of losses has doubtless had its constant place in the calculations of merchants. To the commoner counting of profits on Boston wharves may be ascribed the practice very general, a hundred years ago and less, among persons of every sort and condition, of sending out “adventures.” The sea was the Wall Street of the time, and the time was that when even the uncertainties of the lottery were in good repute. It is in no way surprising, then, to find in a newspaper of 1788, in the advertisement of two ships about to sail for the Isle of France and India, this announcement: “ Any person desiring to adventure to that part of the world may have an opportunity of sending goods on freight.” In executing these commissions the supercargo became, besides the owners’ agent, almost a public servant. Professional men, women, boys — all classes of the community took this inviting road to profit. At the age of eight (1821), John Murray Forbes wrote in a letter: “My adventure sells very well in the village.” A footnote to the passage in Mr. Forbes’s Life explains that the boy was in the habit of importing in the Perkins vessels, with the help of older relatives, little adventures in tea, silk, or possibly Chinese toys. Thus by the time he sailed to China himself, at seventeen, he had accumulated more than a thousand dollars of his own.

That there were heavy risks to be run both by owners and by private speculators, the high rates of insurance and the fortunes built up by marine underwriters clearly testify. The difficult navigation laws of England and France during the Napoleonic wars provided an important element in these risks. Our own Embargo and War of 1812 brought dangers amounting to prohibitions, with effects upon Boston commerce which for a time put it practically out of existence. Among the first vessels to arrive in Boston after the restoration of peace were the New Hazard and the Catch-me-if-you-can, whose very names bespoke the anxiety of the commercial class. With the confidence which came with peace new opportunities were so firmly grasped that for forty years the commerce of Boston continued to spread to every near and distant port of the world. So early as 1791 there is the record of seventy sail leaving Boston harbor in a single day. Yet in 1846 one may read of a hundred and twentynine arrivals in the same brief period. That one great risk of the earlier time — the risk of piracy — should have extended so far as it did into the later, we of these more shielded days cannot easily realize. There is nothing of anachronism in the story of the Atahualpa, sailing for Canton in 1808, commanded by Captain William Sturgis, carrying more than three hundred thousand Spanish milled dollars, and winning a desperate battle with Chinese pirates at the mouth of the Canton River. The ship had previously been in the Indian trade on the northwest coast, and had then been pierced for musketry and armed with four six-pound cannon. To these, which Captain Sturgis had carried with him to China, contrary to the orders of Theodore Lyman, the chief owner of the vessel, the defeat of the pirates was largely due. It savors of the stern and strenuous time, however, to find it reported — whether credibly or not — that on reaching Boston Sturgis was obliged to pay freight on the cannon. “ Obey orders if you break owners ” was a motto not to be treated lightly.

Less remote in time and place than these Chinese pirates stand the twelve Spaniards brought to Boston and tried on the charge that “ piratically, feloniously, violently, and against the will ” of the captain of the brig Mexican, which sailed from Salem in August, 1832, for Rio, they “ did steal, rob, take, and carry away ” the $20,000 in specie with which a homeward cargo was to have been purchased. This the pirates of the schooner Panda, sailing the Spanish Main,undoubtedly did. A copy of the Salem Gazette containing an account of the affair somehow fell into the hands of Captain Trotter, commanding H. B. M. brig Curlew on the African coast. A vessel lying in the River Nazareth and answering the description of the Panda excited Captain Trotter’s suspicions. With considerable difficulty he captured her and her crew, whom he brought to Salem. The trial in Boston occupied two weeks. Mr. William C. Codman, then a schoolboy, recalls the excitement it produced: “Every morning the ‘ Black Maria’ brought the prisoners from the Leverett Street Jail to the court-room. The wooden fence around the Common was perched upon in every possible place from which a view of the pirates could be obtained. The streets and malls were so filled with eager spectators that the police had great difficulty in keeping the crowd back.” By the jury’s verdict, the captain, mate, and five of the crew were declared guilty. Bernardo de Soto, the first officer, was reprieved by President Andrew Jackson, on the ground of a previous act of humanity to American citizens. The other pirates were executed in Boston, June 11, 1835. It is this date, so little beyond the remembrance of many men now living, which brings the “old, unhappy, far-off things ” of peril by sea well into what seems our own time.

To guard against the risks which foresight could avert, it was the custom of shipowners to give their captains, on setting sail, letters of instructions as minute in particulars as the orders of a military or naval commander to a subordinate setting forth on a difficult expedition. Many things which might now be said by cable or rapid mails were then thought out and committed in advance to pages; and nothing that the old merchants have left behind them speaks more clearly for their breadth of vision and clearness of thought and expression than these characteristic productions. Their calling, as they practiced it, both required and enriched that thing of many definitions, — a liberal education.

With the superseding of sails by steam, it was inevitable that much of what would be called, but for McAndrew, the romance of the sea must disappear. One of the changes from the old to the new conditions has hardly yet ceased to manifest itself. The “forest of masts ” with which such a harbor side as that of Boston used to be lined is still gradually dwindling away. In the place of the old tangle of spars and cordage now appear gigantic funnels, comparatively few, and slender pole-masts innocent of yards. A single funnel, however, may rise above a cargo of fifty times greater tonnage than that of a sailing ship a century ago. Add to this the considerations of speed and frequent voyages, of the quick lading and discharging of cargoes by modern methods, and the new romance of magnitude belongs wholly to our epoch of steam.

For what the new epoch was to bring in the way of rapid transatlantic service Boston was in some measure prepared by the lines of Liverpool sailing packets established in 1822 and in 1827. Of one of the vessels of the earlier line, the Emerald, there is a tradition that once she made the voyage to Liverpool and back in thirty-two days. Besides speed these sailing packets offered to patrons what was considered at the time a high degree of comfort. In this matter of packets sailing at regular intervals, however, Boston was somewhat behind New York. To New York, also, belongs the distinction of greeting the steamers Sirius and Great Western on their arrival on consecutive April days of 1838, — nineteen years, to be sure, after the first steam vessel crossed the Atlantic. It was the successful return of these two ships to England that stirred the British admiralty to action, — with what good results to Boston we shall see.

The action of the admiralty was to call for proposals for carrying the royal mails from Liverpool to Halifax, Quebec, and Boston. Mr. Samuel Cunard, an enterprising merchant of Halifax, had long been considering the possibilities of transatlantic steam service. Here was his opportunity, and the bid which he promptly made for this postal work was accepted, at a contract price of £55,000 a year. Halifax was to be the eastern terminus, from which smaller boats were to run to Boston and Quebec. To this arrangement some energetic citizens of Boston entered an immediate protest. The resolutions which they passed April 20, 1839, one week after the promise of the new line reached Boston, pointed out the advantage of using Halifax merely as a place of call and making Boston the true terminus. It happened that just at that time the northeastern boundary dispute, over the line between Maine and New Brunswick, was at a critical point. Shrewdly enough the Boston resolutions, referring to this dispute, expressed the faith of the meeting in the new “ enterprise as a harbinger of future peace, both with the mother country and the provinces, being persuaded that frequent communication is the most effectual mode to wear away all jealousies and prejudices which are not yet extinguished. ” The resolutions, hastily dispatched to Mr. Cunard, reached him on the point of his leaving London for America. He lost no time in taking them to the Lords of the Admiralty, offering — as Mr. H. A. Hill has summed it up — “ to increase the size and power of his ships, and to extend the main route to Boston, promising also, half jocosely, to settle the northeastern boundary question, if they would add ten thousand pounds per annum to the subsidy. His proposition was accepted, and a new contract was signed in May.” Thus it was that Boston, destined to fall far below New York as a port for transatlantic steamers, secured the early supremacy, and perhaps made its own contribution to the settlement of the boundary dispute.

So used is the human mind becoming to the marvelous in triumphs over nature that the first comers from Europe by air-ship — if they ever come — will probably receive a less enthusiastic welcome than that which the city of Boston extended to the first arriving Cunarders. In June and July of 1840, the Unicorn and the Britannia came safe to the new docks of the company in East Boston. Banquets, salutes, and many flags celebrated the events. No doubt local pride played an important part in the Boston sentiment of this time. Within four years this pride was put to the test. The New York papers had been pointing out all the contrasts, unfavorable to Boston, between the ports of the two cities. As if indeed to adorn their tale, Boston harbor froze over in January of 1844, and the advertised sailing of the Britannia then in dock seemed surely to be impossible. But the merchants of Boston would not have it so. They met and voted to cut a way, at their own expense, through the ice, that the steamer might sail practically on time. The contract for cutting the necessary channels was given to merchants engaged like Frederick Tudor in the export of ice, — not from the harbor. Their task was to cut within the space of three days a channel about ten miles long. For tools they had the best machinery used in cutting fresh-water ice, and horse power was employed. The ice was from six to twelve inches in thickness. As the Advertiser of February 2, 1844, described the scene: “ A great many persons have been attracted to our wharves to witness the operations, and the curious spectacle of the whole harbor frozen over, and the ice has been covered by skaters, sleds, and even sleighs. Tents and booths were erected upon the ice, and some parts of the harbor bore the appearance of a Russian holiday scene.” On February 3 the work was done, and the Britannia, steaming slowly through the lane of open water, lined on either side by thousands of cheering spectators, made her way to the sea. Whatever the New York critics may have thought, the English managers of the company must have felt that the people of Boston were good friends to have.

In the natural course of events other lines besides the Cunard were established ; and if the outreaching spirit of Boston had traveled as rapidly overland to the West as it had always moved by sea, there would probably be nothing but progress to record of Boston as a port. Writing of the time when the first Cunarders came, Mr. Hill reminds us “that the trains starting from Boston then reached their limits respectively at Newburyport, Exeter, Nashua, Springfield, Stonington, and New Bedford.” It was not long before the western railroad frontier was pushed from Springfield to Albany and the Hudson. But here, alas, it stopped, and for nearly thirty years, so far as through lines were concerned, it was pushed no farther. During this period quarrels between the two lines that traversed Massachusetts, and the deadening influence of state aid where private enterprise should have been at work, had the most unhappy results. Far to the west, the development of the Michigan Central and the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroads, largely through Boston capital and energy, spoke for what might have been done nearer home. Meanwhile the western railroad connections with New York were wisely and rapidly improved. To quote from Mr. Charles Francis Adams: “ While the great corporations which served other cities were absorbing into themselves the thoroughfares in the valley of the Mississippi, the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts kept its eyes steadily fixed on the Hoosac Mountain.” To this, with other causes, was due the decline of Boston shipping. The important commerce with Calcutta reached its climax in the years between 1856 and 1859, and thereafter gradually fell away, to the advantage of New York. So it was with other branches of maritime trade. In 1868 the Cunard Company, which for the first eight years of its existence had run no vessels to New York, transferred all its mail steamers to the rival port, and sent to Boston only freighters, which after loading in Boston proceeded to New York to complete their cargoes. For nearly three years not a single steamer sailed from Boston direct to Liverpool. Then came the revival. The representatives of railroads, steamships, and the Board of Trade put their heads together, and matters began to mend. Year by year the volume of exports and imports showed a steady, healthy growth, — until Boston has found herself, if not, as of old, the first port of America, yet one which at last reaps the commercial advantages belonging to the town of Emerson’s definition, with its streets leading not only “downward to the sea,” but also, as the railroads tardily did their work, “landward to the west.”

It is a partial view of the outreaching spirit of Boston — especially as Boston may be taken as typical of New England — which ignores the expression that spirit found in the establishment of Christian missions in the islands of the sea and the kingdoms beyond. Whatever one may think of that work, its means and its ends, the facts remain that the nineteenth century saw its beginnings in America, that the “orthodox ” churches of New England were the pioneers in the work, and that the men at home whose financial support made it possible were frequently of that commercial class in whose interest the ships of Boston sailed abroad. This is not to say that the “ merchant princes ” of Boston were largely imbued with the spirit which has been most active in carrying Christianity to foreign lands. They were not. But throughout the nineteenth century there was a constant element in the community — in Boston and all New England towns — which derived from its Puritan ancestry so firm a faith in its modes of spiritual life as inherently the life for every man of every race that the maintenance of American missions became a vital duty. It is not the least significant aspect of this portion of New England history that the secular record of it is extremely meagre. This may probably be ascribed to the fact that the men and women for the records of whose zeal and generosity we look in vain were not of the class which either writes or becomes the theme of biography. They were of the rank and file, and for that reason surely should not be overlooked.

Whether we turn, then, to the great merchants or to the clerks and gentlewomen who sent forth their small adventures, or yet to that other class whose adventures were for spiritual ends, we find in the Boston community a constant quality of distant vision belying the reputation of the town for contented absorption in its own affairs. The Autocrat’s image of the hub, adopted by all the world, carried with it an inevitable picture of the “tire of all creation.” It would be but a sorry hub that was no better for the wheel at the end of its spokes. To those who have determined the relations of Boston with the world at large, the town has owed many of its best things. The distinguished merchants won their distinction not so much by their wealth as by the integrity which earned it and the generosity which devoted it to public uses. A list of the foundations for charitable and educational purposes in and about Boston — such as a “ Perkins Institution, ” a “Parkman Professorship,” a “Bromfield Fund ” — would reveal to the statistical mind a large proportion of names identified with the mercantile history of the place. To bring silk and spices from over-seas, to win the fight with pirates, to open a frozen harbor to the early steamships, to tunnel a mountain and reach the West, — all these are fine, brave things. Yet it is more to make your town richer by the spirit which has triumphed over such difficulties and by the fruits of that spirit. This is what the merchants of Boston have done.

M. A. De Wolfe Howe.