Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

For many generations, indeed, the ancestors of Mr. Thacher had, from disposition and preference, been of that profession, which, among the Israelites, was made the duty of a tribe. His grandfather and great-grandfather, both of the name of Oxenbridge Thacher, though in after life engaged in different pursuits, had ministered at the altar of God, till ill health obliged them to retire from its service. The elder Oxenbridge was the first man who preached to the settlers of Stoughton; and his father was the Rev. Peter Thacher, the first minister of Milton, where he was ordained in the year 1681, and where, as was not unfrequently the case among our simple forefathers, he performed for his parishioners the duties both of clergyman and physician. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Thacher, who came over from England in 1635, and was the first minister of the Old South Church in Boston, of which he was ordained the pastor in 1670. He also was a physician, as well as a divine; and he too was the son of a clergyman, the Rev. Peter Thacher of Salisbury in England.

From early life, the subject of this memoir exhibited those qualities of mind and heart, which are so very desirable in a teacher of religion ; and the reflections of more ripened years determined him to assume a profession, which his fathers before him had followed and adorned.

He eceived the elements of instruction at the Free Schools of his native town; and was fitted for college at the Latin Grammar School, then under the care of the late Mr. Samuel Hunt. In the year 1800, at the usual time for the examination of candidates, he was admitted a student of the University in Cambridge ; and was graduated with its highest honours at the annual Commencement in 1804.

While at the University, he had the happiness of gaining the attachment and respect of his classmates and fellow students, and at the same time of securing the confidence and favour of the college government. He possessed good sense, good temper, and a true independence of spirit; and therefore could hardly fail to recommend himself, both to the companions, and to the guardians, of his studies. He knew that the cultivation of his mind was his business and his duty; and that the object of his instructers, in all their discipline, could be no other than his good. He was not disposed to consider every new requisition, an encroachment on his rights, and every officer of instruction, his natural foe. He thought too, that quite as much independence could be shown by firmly opposing the passionate measures of mistaken youth, as by withstanding the fancied usurpations of his superiors and tutors. But still he had so much kindness of disposition, was so affectionately attached to his companions, and so obviously free from a servile spirit, that he never forfeited their friendship, or fell under their suspicion.

Before leaving the university, Mr. Thacher had decided on the choice of a profession. In a letter to his elder brother, the Hon. Peter 0. Thacher, dated the 15th of December, 1803, he communicates his intention of preparing for the ministry. To this object, he says, “all his hopes and wishes are directed;" and he prays God that he “ may not be permitted to touch his ark with unholy hands." Immediately after taking his first degree, he commenced his theological studies in Boston; and enjoyed the valuable privilege of having them directed by the Rev. Dr. Channing. The friendship formed between these two gentlemen, was intimate and confidential ; was rendered still more so by the subsequent settlement of Mr. Thacher over a church particularly associated with Dr. Channing's; and was interrupted only by that event, which suspends all human connexions, till they are renewed and perfected in a better world.

In the early part of the year 1805, Mr. Thacher took charge of the Latin Grammar School, during a vacancy in the office of head master, and retained it till the appointment of Mr. William Biglow, as successor of Mr. Hunt. He then for a short time kept a private school. He belonged, at this period, to a society of gentlemen who conducted the Monthly Anthology and Boston Review, the most respectable literary work, of a periodical kind, which had then been published in our country.

The summer of 1806 introduced him to an entirely new scene of study and enjoyment, and brought to him the accomplishment of a desire, which he had long indulged, though with but little hope of its ever being gratified—the desire of seeing other countries than his own. It had been deemed expedient, and even necessary, that the lamented Mr. Buckminster, in travelling abroad for his health, should, on account of the peculiar nature of his disorder, * be accompanied by some friend, who might be at hand in any emergency to administer assistance, and procure relief; and Mr. Thacher was requested to be that friend. This overture he immediately accepted; regarding himself as singularly fortunate in being furnished with means of accomplishing a favourite object, at the same time that a fellow traveller was secured, whom he so highly esteemed. Mr. Buckminster sailed for England in May. Mr. Thacher left Boston in June, and in July had the pleasure of joining his friend, who was then at the house of Samuel Williams, Esq. in London.

Early in August they embarked together at London for the Continent; and after a disagreeable passage of three days landed at Harlingen, in Holland. From Harlingen they crossed the Zuyder Zee to Amsterdam, and passing rapidly through Haarlem, Leyden, and the Hague, arrived at Rotterdam before the middle of the month. Here, the friends were compelled to separate. Mr. Buckminster set off on a tour through Switzerland, and Mr. Thacher proceeded through Williamstadt, Antwerp, Brussels, Valeneiennes, and Peronne, to Paris.

“ And what shall I write you of Paris," he says, in a letter to his brother, “ of Paris, the centre of gaiety and pleasure, of splendour, folly, vanity and erime; the place where you find every form of beauty, magnificence and taste; every display of ingenuity and art; in short, every thing but goodness? The sentiment of Burke is here completely reversed, and vice doubles its evil by losing all its grossness.--The embellishment of Paris still advances ; and it is said the Emperor has done more to adorn it in three years, than the house of Bourbon in the whole eighteenth century. By making Italy and Flanders tributary to his capital, he has formed a collection of paintings and statues, without rival in the world. He opens magnificent squares in places which were formerly crowded with dirty and narrow streets; he renews public buildings which have decayed, or supplies their place with something still more splendid; and if he should live twenty years longer, he will make Paris throughout one vast palace. Even if his fortune should be reversed, he has left such indelible traces of himself, and connected them with so many monuments of elegance and taste, that they can never be effaced without mutilating the beauty of the city."

* It was epilepsy. See Thacher's Memoir of Buckminster,

In the same letter, which is dated October 7th, he thus speaks of the health of Mr. Buckminster, who had then rejoined him. When you next see Mr. L. after remembering me to him with all possible gratitude and regard, tell him, that though I am unwilling prematurely to raise his hopes, yet I believe he may indulge very sanguine expectations of the complete recovery of Mr. Buckminster. He has returned from Switzerland, not merely in good, but in robust health ; and ever since his arrival on the Continent, and for a month before, he has had no return, nor symptom of a return, of his disorder."

66

« EdellinenJatka »