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´╗┐Title: Governor Winthrop's Return to Boston - An Interview with a Great Character
Author: Warren, G. Washington
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Governor Winthrop's Return to Boston - An Interview with a Great Character" ***

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[Frontispiece: Winthrop's Statue in Scollay Square.]





A Poem



MARCH 25, APRIL 20, 1882.


"Interviews are a modern species of literature, in which the author
attempts to give a fancy sketch of the known or supposed opinions of
the party interviewed."



The Corner Bookstore


_Three hundred copies printed._

_Copyright, 1883,_











This Little Book,





Governor Winthrop's Return to Boston

  His Statue in Scollay Square
  The Covenant of First Church
  His Observations on his Return
  The "Stocks" of his Time
  The Changes since, and those which are to come
  Rev. John Wilson's Vision
  The Thursday Lecture and Thursday Club
  President William B. Rogers and his Death
  The new President of the Club
  Josiah Quincy's Estimate of Winthrop
  Winthrop's Life and Services

An Interview with a Great Character

  Silence and Darkness in Scollay Square
  Winthrop appears to the Writer
  He disclaims being Venerable
  Age not reckoned in Spirit-land
  He refers to First Church and its History
  And predicts its still Greater Success
  The Winthrop Cup
  New Things and Old
  His Reflections on Wealth
  The Example of John Harvard
  The Spiritual the Substantial
  The Proper Site of his Statue
  Winthrop's Benediction and Departure


WINTHROP'S STATUE IN SCOLLAY SQUARE . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_





Governor Winthrop's Return to Boston.

On the seventeenth day of September, A.D. 1880, the two hundred and
fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the town of Boston, the event
was commemorated, among other ways, by the inauguration of the statue
of John Winthrop, in Scollay Square.  He is represented by the renowned
sculptor in the garb of a gentleman of his day, holding in his hand the
royal charter of the Massachusetts Colony, which he brought over with

His serene countenance falls like a benediction upon this city of ours,
which shows a wonderful and prosperous growth.  He may be said to be
the founder of the First Church of Boston, of the City itself, and of
this Christian Commonwealth,--a threefold distinction.  To have been
the founder of a single one of these would have insured his immortal

He was also the author of the covenant of the First Church, which was
gathered in Charlestown, Aug. 27, 1630, and which soon after removed to
the Boston side of Charles River.  The covenant is in these words:--

"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in obedience to His holy and
divine ordinance,--

"We, whose names are hereunder written, being by His most wise and good
providence brought together into this part of America, in the Bay of
Massachusetts, and desirous to unite ourselves into one congregation or
church, under the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head, in such sort as becometh
all those whom He hath redeemed and sanctified to Himself, do hereby
solemnly and religiously (as in His most holy presence) promise and
bind ourselves to walk in all our ways according to the rule of the
Gospel and in all sincere conformity to His holy ordinances, and in
mutual love and respect, each to other, so near as God shall give us

Probably there are very few, if any, original documents in America of
so ancient a date which have been preserved, and which are still in
force, as this identical covenant, which has been signed and kept by
hundreds in each generation for nearly three centuries.  Far superior
to the Andover creed, or to any other creed of seminary, council, or
church, it has ever been a bond of union, and not a bone of contention.
Aptly phrased and including all the essential conditions of a vital
church organization, it will stand for centuries to come, and will
outlast all creeds of human invention, ever promoting beneficence and

This poem represents the spirit of Governor Winthrop returning to the
city and the capital of the Christian Commonwealth he had founded, and
taking possession of the bodily form which the artist has reproduced of
him, clothed in his own antique costume.  He surveys the extended
limits of Boston, including Charlestown, with Bunker Hill Monument, and
four other townships with hundreds of church steeples pointing to the
sky.  He misses from the old site on Cornhill the single house of
worship where Wilson and Cotton preached, and where he was wont to
expound; but soon he descries from afar, in his mind's eye, standing
where, in his time, the waves of the sea were surging, the beautiful
church edifice and the elegant chapel where five hundred
Sunday-scholars are weekly taught.  He dwells with supreme satisfaction
upon the good deeds done by the church he established, and predicts for
it a still more prosperous future and a greater spiritual growth.  He
recognizes only two things which existed in his day, and have remained
unchanged,--the church covenant he wrote, as it were, by inspiration,
or at least by a wise forecast of future needs, and the Communion cup
he gave, which has singularly escaped the hazards of fire and the
chances of time, and which has been, ever since, constantly used in the
holy commemorative service.

Upon these almost universal changes he makes some appropriate
reflections.  To "sit in the stocks" was a punishment commonly imposed
in his time for various offences.  Richard Frothingham, in his "History
of Charlestown," gives a view of the stocks that were set in the
market-place with this mode of punishment applied.  The view is here
reproduced.  "It was much used," says Frothingham, "and several times
repaired.  A sentence by the selectmen for 'drinking to excess,' shows
that one hour's sitting in the stocks could be compromised by paying
3_s._ 4_d._ money."  Winthrop, of course, would be struck with the
different use of the word now so frequently spoken.  From the fact that
all investments of his day are swept out of existence, he predicts that
the properties now held as most secure and reliable will in as long a
time disappear.  He illustrates the superiority of man, in his own best
estate, to all worldly possessions.

[Illustration: Sitting in the stocks]

His allusion to the vision of Rev. John Wilson, the first minister of
the church, recalls the following passage in his diary as quoted by
Hon. Robert C. Winthrop in his "Life and Letters of John Winthrop,"
vol. 2, page 108.

"The pastor of Boston, Mr. Wilson, a very sincere, holy man, ... told
the governour that, before he was resolved to come into this country,
he dreamed he was here, and that he saw a church arise out of the
earth, which grew up and became a marvellous goodly church."

The present church edifice well answers this description; built with
exquisite taste after a most appropriate design, and bearing the palm
of all the costly churches in the new part of Boston for fitness,
beauty, and permanency.

[Illustration: First Church in Boston.  Corner of Berkeley and
Marlborough Streets.]

The Thursday Lecture, which was the special clerical and social
occasion of his time, he finds abolished; and he observes that the
Thursday Evening Club is now a characteristic feature of Boston.  This
was formed for social, scientific, and literary objects.  Among its
founders and early members were Edward Everett, a member of First
Church, and Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, the distinguished descendant and
representative of the Winthrop family.  The one referred to in this
interview as the then leader of the Club was its late President,
William B. Rogers.  He was a man of superior scientific attainments,
with a power of apt expression and a felicity and fluency of utterance
indeed remarkable.  By his efforts and influence the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology was established,--a lasting monument of his
zeal for technical science, the most needed factor in popular
education.  In making an address to the Institute at its Commencement
exercises, May 30, 1882, he was struck with death; he left the very
place of his heart's and life's devotion for the spirit land of
Winthrop.  His predecessors in the office of President of the Club were
John C. Warren, the nephew of General Joseph Warren, Edward Everett, J.
Mason Warren, and Bishop Manton Eastburn.  The historic mantle of the
office has now been cast on Colonel Theodore Lyman, upon whose
well-stored and lofty head honors have fallen thick, but no faster than

Josiah Quincy the elder, the second on the roll of Boston's
distinguished Mayors, declared that the City might well adopt Winthrop
as its patron saint.  His was an ideal, saintly life, and his
character, in a sense, supernatural.  He bore success and defeat in a
political election with like equanimity, a trait that, as it were, by a
law of heredity marks with special honor his living representative.
Whether in office or out, and possessing large estates or, one after
another, deprived of them, he kept his mind active and his brain
industriously working for the development of a higher social life under
Christian culture in a virgin land, by his leadership, under the
Providence he devoutly acknowledged, to be fitted and fashioned for a
new and powerful country, of which Boston was to be a memorable city.

Nor could he fail to remark upon the location of the statue set up in
his honor in Scollay Square, rather than on Boston Common, which he had
laid out and secured to posterity.  The City Square in Charlestown,
where he first unrolled the old charter of the Colony before the new
government at its first meeting here, would have been a better site for
it than the one selected.

Difficult it is, indeed, to set down in worthy lines the remembrance of
the interview herein depicted.  Of course, it has been faintly and
inadequately done.  Let us hope, however, that, should Winthrop's
spirit, two or three centuries hence, visit again the last and most
eventful scenes of his earthly life, he will find Boston, though
changed anew, yet vastly improved, keeping pace with all developments
for the good of an ever advancing race, and second to none in the
Commonwealth or Nation in true excellence and progress.




A Poem


  There was a quiet hour in Scollay Square;
  The cars and teams were blocked from getting there;
  No longer shone the famed electric light,--
  It flickered out and left the darkest night.
  I seemed to feel a shock upon my arm,
  And hear the statue speak: "I 'll do no harm,--
  An elder of First Church I think you are;
  I have a message for you; come, prepare."

[Illustration: Portrait of Rev. John Wilson.]

  "Winthrop!" cried I, "my venerable sire!
  Do you reanimate your rich attire?
  Most glad am I to have this interview;
  Pray, tell me all you wish, things old and new."
  "My friend," said he, "no ven'rable am I,
  For mortals grow no older when they die;
  E'er since my earthly race I long have run,
  My age has numbered only sixty-one.
  Years are not counted on the heavenly shore,
  For in eternal life time is no more.
  The children sweet, the lovely bride forsooth,
  Transferred, preserve the freshness of their youth.
  Those who departed later are not found
  Far to transcend them in their endless round.
  More of the spirits' life I may not tell;
  Enough to say that with them all is well;
  God's universe has boundless worlds to show;
  His works will take eternity to know.

  "But I would speak of your millennial time
  Whose fame has gone through yon celestial clime.
  Almost one seventh of the years our Lord
  Has named for Him, First Church has preached His word.
  Its simple cov'nant ever served its need;
  It learned to live without a cumbrous creed.
  Its 'goodly church,' fast built where flowed the tide,
  Fulfils the vision Wilson saw with pride.
  Its charming chapel opens wide the door
  To the bright children of the suffering poor.
  Ah! blest are they who use for them their might!
  Angels will bear them on their upward flight;
  And, in return, the grateful youth will come,
  With prosperous hands, to deck their Christian home.

  The seed, wide-spread, will take its deepest root,
  And, watered oft, will yield its tenfold fruit.
  Erelong those hallowed walls will scarce contain
  Those who shall flock to learn the precepts plain.
  More week-day services will be required,
  To hear the word by holy men inspired;
  And long shall those enduring arches ring
  With pulpit tones, and songs the choir will sing.

[Illustration: The Winthrop Cup.]

  "The cup I gave, and which you pass around,
  The sole familiar thing about this ground,
  Will prove a token true from age to age,--
  May its partakers gild the sacred page!

  "Oft as my after-knowledge takes wide range,
  I note how wonderful the constant change:
  No coin we used is current here to-day;
  The bills we passed you would not take for pay.
  Our money funds required no 'safety' locks,
  And differs much what we and you call 'stocks;'
  Men often find yours quite a dangerous game,
  And get their foot stuck in them just the same.

  "The Thursday Lecture yields no more its grace;
  Your Thursday Evening Club now takes its place.
  The buildings strong we built have ceased to be.
  Lands now most valued then were in the sea.
  And so, few centuries hence, 't will be again:
  What now is property will sink like rain;
  Your mills, railroads, and bonds will be out-played;
  Then, too, your fruitful Calumet may fade.
  Amass as much as one can call his own,
  By right use only can its good be shown;
  Pile worldly goods in a superfluous whole,
  They are not worth e'en one immortal soul.

  "'T was not my lot to have large sums in store,
  My wealth was gone ere mortal life was o'er;
  But Faith and Liberty I most did prize,--
  On those twin rocks I bade a nation rise.
  There was another John, you understand;
  He founded Learning's halls in this new land;
  Not Vanderbilt, nor any moneyed name
  Will e'er outshine John Harvard's brilliant fame.

  Learn this: strive not for wealth that will not last,
  But let your treasures be in heaven cast;
  These are alone the real things to crave.
  While that will mould, like bodies in the grave,
  Material forms to meet decay are sure;
  The mind and spirit only will endure.
  Hope's blissful visions, with its longings strong,
  The will's high purpose, freed from thought of wrong,
  Fond memory of good deeds that here were done,
  Of sinners from their evil courses won,
  The love and knowledge of the God Supreme,
  Of Christ who came the fallen to redeem,--
  These are, indeed, the good, substantial things
  To which the soul for endless ages clings.

  "Could I have marked where should this statue stand,
  I would have placed it on that Common land,
  Of past and coming times the great delight,--
  With First Church spire and Capitol in sight;
  My figure there should front the setting sun;
  That, in review of any good I 've done
  During the last score years I passed on earth,
  Posterity may better know my worth.

  "I love the grand First Church, I love the State.
  I planted both.  Their growth, through God, is great,
  And both will flourish ever, while the sun
  His circuit round this globe shall seem to run.
  May every good Saint Botolph's town betide,
  And Thursday Club, led by the wisest Guide."

  Of what he said, this is, condensed, the sum.
  Then flashed the light; on came the busy hum;
  Then Winthrop's spirit soared up to the stars;
  Mute stood his statue 'mid the noisy cars.

[Illustration: Tailpiece]

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