Project Canterbury

A Selection from the Miscellaneous Historical Papers of Fifty Years.

By Franklin Bowditch Dexter.

New Haven: The Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor Company, 1918.

The Reverend Harry Croswell, D.D., and His Diary.

[From the Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, Vol. IX. Read January 1916.]

I have long been accustomed to count it a matter of peculiar good fortune that my personal recollections of New Haven go back so far as to include a living impression of almost every one of that group of notable men who were the conspicuous figures in this community at the middle of the last century; and inasmuch as at my coming here in 1857 I took rooms on College Street, at the corner of Crown, it is natural that one of the most distinct in that panorama of stately personages who were then just passing off the stage was the Rev. Dr. Croswell, as I was accustomed to see him almost daily on his walks to and from his house, half way down the next block, on Crown Street.

These glimpses of him, in his long cloak and top boots, joined with the companion picture of his deliberate march up and down the central aisle of Trinity Church in full canonicals, have left with me a striking image of dignified and venerable age, not melancholy and forlorn as that of his somewhat older neighbor, Ex-President Day, but distinctly suggestive of active kindliness and of watchful human sympathy, not altogether crushed and broken by the labors and sorrows of almost eighty years.

Harry Croswell, the seventh of eight children of Caleb and Hannah (Kellogg) Croswell, of West Hartford, Connecticut, was born in June, 1778. His father was a native of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and his mother of West Hartford, where the family lived in humble circumstances.

He was bred as a Congregationalist, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr. Nathan Perkins, a graduate of Princeton College, who was settled in that suburban parish for two-thirds of a century.

Noah Webster, the lexicographer, was also a native and early resident of West Hartford; and Harry Croswell at the age of eleven lived for one winter as errand-boy in Mr. Webster's family, receiving help in his lessons in part return for his services.

After leaving school he became a clerk in a country store in Warren, in Litchfield County, but soon migrated to Catskill, N. Y., to learn the printer's art from an older brother, who was also one of the [349/350] proprietors of a weekly newspaper, The Catskill Packet, While thus occupied, he ventured to send occasional anonymous contributions to that sheet, which led to the recognition of his promise as a writer, and finally to his instalment in the editorial chair.

In August, 1800, he was married to Susan Sherman, a native of New Haven, of a family long identified with Centre Church, who since the death of her parents was living in Catskill in the family of an older brother.

A few months later he removed across the river to the flourishing city of Hudson, where he established, in May, 1801, in partnership with Ezra Sampson, a Yale graduate, and a retired Congregational minister, an independent weekly newspaper, of high character, called The Balance, which soon attained a fair circulation, and is still esteemed by students of that period for its exceptional literary excellence. Mr. Sampson was a practiced essayist, and Mr. Croswell's own contributions included frequent poetical efforts, as well as a constant supply of prose material, especially in the political field. During the most of his editorial career he also conducted a bookselling business; and for a short time held the rank of Lieutenant in the State Militia.

In the summer of 1802 he undertook further the publication of a small occasional sheet, called The Wasp, which was designed by the Federalists of Hudson as an antidote to The Bee, a Democratic paper just begun there; of The Wasp only twelve numbers were issued.

His senior partner withdrew from The Balance at the end of 1803; and early in 1804 some of the Democratic State-leaders resolved to crush Mr. Croswell, in consequence of articles which he had published reflecting severely on President Jefferson. He was made defendant in several libel cases, founded on matter which had appeared in The Balance and the defunct Wasp; and the courts being controlled by his opponents, he was heavily mulcted, beyond his ability to pay. One of these suits gained special renown from the appearance of Alexander Hamilton, then at the zenith of his career, as one of the volunteer counsel of Mr. Croswell, and his delivery of a masterly argument in defence of the liberty of the press, only five months before his tragic death.

At the close of 1808, Mr. Croswell ventured, unwisely, to transfer the office of his paper to Albany, where, however, he failed to receive the party support of which he had been assured. His advertising patronage was also very meagre, his subscription-list small, and multiplied libel suits continued to harass him. A climax was reached in the Spring of 1811, when one of his creditors, who was a leading Federalist, obtained a judgment against him for a [350/351] small debt which he could not discharge, and for three or four months he was obliged to edit his paper while confined within jail limits. Cut to the quick by what he felt to be gross disloyalty on the part of a representative of the party for which he had done and suffered so much, he announced that The Balance would suspend publication at the end of the current year, expressing frankly also his disgust at the falseness and desertion of his Federalist patrons, in such terms that he was understood to renounce his former associations, and was even suspected of a purpose of joining the Democrats. In fact, he never again attended a political meeting (unless as a clerical duty), or exercised his rights as a voter; his revulsion from Federalism was so entire, that in later life his tacit sympathy was evidently with the Democratic party.

Early in 1812 he conformed to the Episcopal Church, receiving baptism in July, and confirmation a week later at the hands of Bishop Hobart.

He was then led to consider the claims of the Christian ministry, and after a hasty preparation, under the direction of a young clergyman then boarding with him, the Rev. Timothy Clowes, who was the rector of St. Peter's Church, he was ordained Deacon in St. John's Church, New York City, by Bishop Hobart, on May 8, 1814, being then nearly 36 years of age; and when we recall that for upwards of ten years he had been prominent in the public eye as the strenuously combative editor of a violently partisan journal in Hudson and the vicinity, it is a remarkable tribute to the respect inspired by his character that on the first Sunday after his ordination he assumed charge of Christ Church in Hudson.

While thus engaged, having occasion to visit New Haven during the ensuing summer on family business, he was invited, on a sudden emergency, to conduct the services for a single Sunday in Trinity Church, at the time when the Rector, the Rev. Henry Whitlock, a Williams College graduate, of about Mr. Croswell's age, was prostrated with a fatal illness. Mr. Whitlock's resignation was received in October, and on the same day Mr. Croswell was invited to fill his place, with an annual salary of $1000, the same that he was receiving in Hudson. The chairman of the committee of notification was the venerable Dr. Eneas Munson, an uncle of Mrs. Croswell. The offer was especially tempting, for the sake of the four sons to whose education he was looking forward, and as restoring his wife to the companionship of a large circle of relatives. Accordingly, his acceptance followed, and be began his long ministry here on Sunday, January 1, 1815.

At that date the Rev. Nathaniel W. Taylor, eight years younger than Mr. Croswell, had been for three years pastor of the First [351/352] Congregational Church; and the Rev. Samuel Merwin, who was but three years Mr. Croswell's junior, had been settled over the United Church for ten years. The new First Church, or the "Middle Brick," as it soon began to be called, a name changed by a later and more fastidious generation to the "Centre Church," had been dedicated on the previous Tuesday; and the North Church then building was ready for dedication in the following December. Dr. Dwight was the President of Yale College, and pastor of the College Church, but was soon prostrated under the painful disease which ended his life two years later.

Mr. Croswell was domiciled in a hired house on the east side of Orange Street, just above Crown; and the Trinity Church of that day, on the east side of Church Street (which was named from this location), and a little below Chapel Street, was an old wooden structure, with long round-topped windows, doors, vestibules, and inside entrances, which had undergone successive enlargements since it was built, 60 years before, but was so inadequate for the accommodation of the perhaps 130 families of New Haven and vicinity who made up the parish, that already, in the previous May, the corner-stone had been laid of a new stone church, on the Public Green, of which Ithiel Town was the architect.

Five months after his arrival, Mr. Croswell was admitted to Priest's orders by Bishop Griswold, of the Eastern Diocese, Bishop Jarvis, of Connecticut, having died in 1813; and in February, 1816, he was instituted into the rectorship, on the day after the new church, which was heralded as the first attempt at Gothic in churchbuilding in New England, and one of the largest structures for that purpose in America, was duly consecrated.

A large increase in the numbers of the congregation followed at once, and from the standing of Trinity Parish in the diocese, Mr. Croswell held from the first a position of avowed leadership; as was shown in particular by his being mainly responsible for directing attention to a clergyman of near his own age, the Rev. Thomas Church Brownell, of the New York diocese, who was elected Bishop of Connecticut in 1818.

In April, 1821, when he was in his 43d year, and had lived in New Haven for six years, he began to keep a Diary, which he continued until his death, in 1858, and which exhibits a remarkable record of individual activity, and of the shrewd comments of a critical observer on persons and events within his daily experience. The whole amounts to nearly 5000 pages of manuscript, written in a beautifully minute and uniform hand.

With reference to this document it should be remembered that the author wrote and acted under certain obvious limitations. [352/353] Embarrassed, perhaps not altogether consciously, by his lack of College and ministerial training, and wholly without those intimate associations with his contemporaries which naturally accompany such training, he felt ill at ease in the Yale atmosphere, and chose to keep aloof from the friendly advances made by gentlemen of the College, and to confine his social relations almost exclusively to the families of his own parish. The honorary degree of Master of Arts was conferred on him at Yale in 1817, without any apparent effect on his feelings.

Embittered also by his experience in the political arena, he assumed from the first an attitude of reserve and suspicion towards those of differing faith or practice, which tended to induce and to aggravate similar feeling and action on their part. His conception of his duty to Church principles prevented easy or natural relations with dissenters, so that much of the best which other newcomers found here was to him, from his own choice, under the ban, and the stimulus of friendly contact and sympathy in intellectual pursuits was so far denied him.

These limitations, on the other hand, made the concentration of his powers on the daily round of direct pastoral effort more and more amazingly effective. He did little reading, beyond current newspapers and Church periodicals, and after the first few years found the composition of fresh discourses somewhat irksome; but outside of his study, the incessant and varied demands of a large parish were full of absorbing interest and inspiration. He made it a rule, in his own language, "never to suffer anything to interfere with pastoral duty"; and the record of days without number is completely filled with the recital, not merely of more strictly ministerial acts, such as baptisms, funerals, and marriages, but of an exhausting round of visits to the sick, the afflicted, and the needy, among his own parishioners, as well as to many who were uncared for by any other agency. His house was also a centre of hospitality and of service. He enjoyed informal social intercourse, and until hampered by age and infirmity was a familiar and welcome figure in the homes of his people, as they in his.

On the other hand, formal gatherings of a fashionable sort were distasteful to him, as might be shown by many extracts from his Diary like the following:—
July 9, 1844. At 9 p. M. went to Mrs. Reese's, where Mrs. Croswell had spent the evening. Found a large and disagreeable party there, and after enduring the customary hardships on such occasions until x/2 past ten, came home, and made a new mental resolution—not to get caught so again.

December 3, 1844. Took tea and spent the evening at Mrs. Ingersoll's, with a small party—pleasant enough, but the time thrown away.

[354] Akin to such feelings was his strong disinclination to appear in public on any show-occasion, unless required by his duty as a clergyman. One instance out of many may illustrate this:—

October 9, 1821. This being the day assigned for the Agricultural Fair and Cattle Show, I was solicited by the Committee of Arrangement to join in the procession, and attend on the exercises at the meeting house, and afterwards to dine with the Society. It was a great sacrifice of feeling and convenience—but I attended. The clergy who attended were Baldwin, of Stratford, Taylor, congregationalist. Hill, baptist, and Fitch, professor of divinity in Yale College. Proceeded from the front of the Court house, around the square, to the North Meeting House—where we were foisted into the pulpit with the orator, Burrage Beach, Esq., of Cheshire. Taylor read a psalm—and then made a prayer. Then followed the oration. Then Hill read a psalm, and delivered a prayer of very handsome composition, which some friend, probably Abraham Bishop, had prepared to his hand. Then he read another psalm—and thus ended this part of the cattle-show. We were next dragged in procession to Hillhouse's Avenue to see the oxen, &c.—and after this we were conducted to the dinner table—and by the time the fare was over, it was past 4 o'clock. For my part, I felt tired and ashamed of the whole business.

And this extract illustrates perhaps as clearly the author's striking modesty, a crowning manifestation of which is displayed in his record of the Commencement at Washington, now Trinity, College in 1H31, with its entire omission of any reference to the fact that one incident of the occasion was his own reception of the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.

A kindred instance of unaffected humility is this entry of March 29, 1822:—

The Bishop [Dr. Brownell] called towards evening, with a prospectus for his Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer—wishing me to look it over and correct itl It is really a great trial to my feelings to have such a thing occur; but I endeavored not to discover anything of the kind. I took the manuscript, and actually suggested two or three verbal alterations, which the Bishop readily adopted.

From almost any page of this voluminous record it would be possible to select a specimen day in illustration of his unremitting routine labors in the direct line of professional duty. Any single example of this sort may be unimpressive; but the cumulative effect of such a lifelong chronicle of unwearied devotion and self-sacrifice is unquestionable and overwhelming. I quote as the record of only a part of an ordinary day's occupations, this extract from his entry for Monday, April 20, 1835:—

Rose early. Spent an hour before breakfast in making entries in Parish Register, Journal, &c. After the morning errands, commenced my round of [354/355] duty by visiting and praying with Dr. Elijah Monson's wife. Then called at Mr. O'Neil's to see Grace Jacocks, who is here on a visit. Then called to see Julia Deforest, who, being confined by slight lameness, is turning her attention, and apparently with much interest to the subject of religion. . . . P.M. Recommenced my round of duty. Called a moment to see the bride, Mrs. Granger. Then took a long pull, and visited and prayed with Mr. Thorp and wife, who are both sick in one room with typhus fever. [On the corner of State & Bradley sts.] This is the extremest part of the town on the North. Stopped a moment at J. Ball's. Then visited Mary Ann Bradley, whose case, I fear, is beginning to wear a threatening aspect . Next, visited and prayed with Harriet Fitch, who is declining rapidly. Next visited and prayed with S. J. Clarke's children, both dangerously sick. Called on Mr. Dykeman, H. W. Brintnall, and Dr. Robertson. Caught in an April shower, and on coming home found plenty of company, who had also got caught. Miss Gilbert, and Miss Macbeth and Miss Ogden staid to tea. In the evening was called to marry Benjamin D. Norris.

With respect to the demands made upon him, it should be noted that he served not merely as a spiritual counselor, but placed all his faculties and capacities at the command of his people. As the Diary testifies, he was often called on, for instance, to draft a new will, to write a troublesome business letter, to make peace with an unruly servant, to plan a new house, or a new church, or even to make a perverse chimney draw.

In some cases it may be difficult to decide whether the author of a diary wrote solely for his own eye, or whether he contemplated the possibility of his words becoming public. In the present case, there can be, I think, no doubt that Dr. Croswell's original object was solely to register, as an aid to memory, the consecutive performance of professional duty, without thought of other readers. We may ask, then, if the record should have been preserved, and if it should be a subject of public analysis and criticism. But as neither the writer nor his surviving children expressed any wish to the contrary, when the decision lay wholly in their hands, and as his last descendant died nearly half a century ago, it seems clear that the settlement of such questions was willingly left to the discretion of those on whom the responsibility might fall.

Meantime, some things are certain. Least of all would Dr. Croswell have shrunk from entire frankness in any exposition of the quality of his churchmanship and his relations with representatives of other Christian bodies. He would be described, I suppose, as a typical example of the old school of Connecticut High Churchmen, sharply distrustful of the Broad Church attitude of Dr. Muhlenberg and Dr. Harwood, and equally out of sympathy with the Low Churchmanship of Bishops Bedell and Eastburn and Dr. Tyng.

[356] He was inflexibly loyal to the Prayer Book; and such exceptional variations as that noted in the following passage from the Diary are therefore the more remarkable.

April 4, 1822. Was called to attend the funeral of Isaac Basset's child, the methodist minister being out of town. All strong methodists—so I wore no gown—used an extempore prayer at the house—and accommodated myself as far as possible to their feelings, without departing from any positive rule of the Church.

February 28, 1828. The funeral of Mr. Sherman [a brother of Mrs. Croswell] was attended in the afternoon. I performed the whole service. After returning to the house, I invited old Mr. Stebbins [of West Haven], who had attended as a mourner, on account of the relationship of his wife to Mrs. Sherman, to pray with the family. The old gentleman, though a Congregational clergyman, knelt down and made a very consistent prayer, closing with the Lord's Prayer. The kneeling and Lord's Prayer would have been considered by a man more bigoted, as too much of compliance with church-customs.

Compare, also, with these another funeral entry, which, if unique in his own case, must have had parallels elsewhere:—

Sunday, November 15, 1835. After afternoon service hastened down to the Chapel, to attend the funeral of young Murphy. . . . Mr. Bennett performed the service at the Chapel—and I performed all that was done at the grave, but as it had become so dark, that I could not distinguish a letter, I dare not venture on the Collect from memory.

As has been said already, Dr. Croswell found the writing of sermons a burden; and judging from the serial numbers attached to his discourses, he seems during a ministry of nearly 44 years to have made on the average a new sermon only once in about three weeks. His Diary reveals great ingenuity also in the adaptation of old material to new uses. Witness such entries as these:—

Friday, December 4, 1829. [15 years after ordination.] Tried, in vain, to set myself about sermons—but finally was obliged to select two from my old stock, of which the number is so large, and embracing so many topics, that I find it difficult to strike out a new one.

Saturday, February 25, 1832. Not having time to finish a sermon, resorted to my pigeon-holes, and found a substantial old sermon, which had not been preached in eight years. Let them remember this, if they can.

Saturday, May 5, 1832. Went to work in the morning, and took an old sermon, and ripped off the collar and wristbands—that is, rigged it out with a new text, introduction, and conclusion, and intend to try it to-morrow.

May 21, 1848. My sermon, which I had substantially re-written from an old one, with three convertible texts, to adapt it to Advent. Epiphany, or Easter, was now designed partly as a missionary sermon, and seemed to take very well.

Once he enlarges on his method of composition:—

[357] January 11, 1822. In the evening transcribed a few pages into my sermon, which I had composed in the course of the afternoon. This is a labour to which I have always subjected myself—composing first in a very small hand, on small scraps and slips of paper, and afterwards transcribing into the notes from which I deliver, and which are always written in a fair, though rather small hand, and broken up into sentences, and parts of sentences, to assist the eye in the delivery. This last peculiarity has excited the curiosity of such of my brethren of the clergy as have noticed it: but they don't seem to understand it—and for one of the plainest reasons in the world:—their sermons have no points, nor are the sentences so formed as to admit of any regular division of their members. ... I designed the plan, because I knew my inability to write without emendations—and I cannot bear to see a manuscript full of erasures, alterations, and interlineations. Sermons written offhand are apt to be slovenly in their style—and they are as much extempore sermons, as if they were preached without notes. It is my aim to finish my sermons, as much as my great and arduous labors will permit

There is little in the Diary which bears upon the teaching in his sermons. He was not given to speculation, and his daily record is occupied with practical and external data,—least of all with theological investigation, or self-examination. Comments on the sermons of others are frequent, and not always favorable, but such sidenotes as the following, with reference to his own mode of thought, are unusual:—

Sunday, September 18, 1825. Mr. Shelton preached three times. He writes handsomely, and preaches impressively—but his sermons have no spice of gospel spirit He urges obedience, and inculcates the necessity of faith—but not one word of repentance. In his evening sermon he told of every way of coming to God, but the right one (with a penitent and broken heart and contrite spirit).

His theoretical attitude towards his neighbors who were outside the pale of the Church, is expressed in the following extract:—

Tuesday, May 1, 1821. In the evening held my regular lecture at the Orange-Street school room, and spoke on Christian unity, principally with a view of pointing out the absurdity of attempting to harmonize the different denominations of Christians, by drawing them into mixed meetings of laymen, to hear lay-preachers. Recommended the unity of spirit, without hoping, in the present state of the world, to produce unity of sentiment

His method, however, of illustrating the "unity of spirit" in practice was not specially calculated to promote the object, as may be gathered from the following out of numerous descriptions in his Journal of services conducted by nonconformists:—

November 17, 1824. Having been invited by President Day to attend the dedication of the new College Chapel—went at 2 o'clock. It was rather a singular exhibition. They first sang an anthem—not in the best style. Having [357/358] no female voices, the treble solos were murdered in cold blood. Then President Day read some scattered verses from the Psalms—in bad shape, without any qualification. Then Professor Fitch made a short hobbling prayer—in worse style than either of the other performances. Then another anthem was sung, decently. Then Professor Fitch delivered a dull, cold, labored sermon, in wretched style. Then President Day made a tolerable prayer. And last, the choir sung a diddling hymn—and Professor Fitch ended with a sort of benediction.

Again, while visiting at the house of the Rector of St. John's Church, in Providence,

June 15, 1822. Mr. Crocker asked me to attend a prayer-meeting of Mr. Maffit's (the strolling Irish methodist), in the lecture-room of Mr. Wilson's (congregational) meeting-house. I declined—but finding the family all on a tip-toe to go—I changed my mind and went. This lectureroom is the underground story of a very large meeting-house—the ceiling low—the walls and floor dirty—the whole very dark—and the air close and offensive. Into this den an immense crowd followed the miserable adventurer, who had set the town agog by his vapid attempts to preach the gospel. People of wealth and fashion, without distinction of age, sex, or condition, were here huddled together. The desk was occupied by Maffitt, Mr. Taft, minister of the Episcopal Church at Patucket, a young baptist preacher, and a methodist preacher. This prayer-meeting was opened with a hymn, which was followed by a short exhortation from Maffitt. Then he sang a song, of his own composition, tune and all, alone, in a soft, sweet strain which seemed to produce a wonderful effect upon his female auditors, who languished as he languished and responded sighs to his sweet notes. Then Maffitt prayed in the language of the liturgy, for a few minutes. Then he sang again. Then the baptist exhorted, the methodist prayed, Maffitt sang, and the rest joined him. He closed with another exhortation, and a hymn, in true methodist style—and thus ended a prayer-meeting, in a cellar, attended by the Rector of St . John's Church, Providence, and his lady, the Rev. Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in Brown University, in episcopal orders, and the Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, who blushes to his fingers' ends on his recording this instance of his departing from a conscientious sense of duty, from mere complaisance to the good people with whom he staid.


March 9, 1825. Having received an invitation to attend the ceremony of installing the Rev. Leonard Bacon over the first congregational society in this city—went to the meeting-house at l/2 past 10. Service commenced at 11. Sermon, by Mr. Hawes, very good. Charge, by Mr. Taylor, very bad. Right hand of fellowship, by Mr. Merwin, no better. Singing flat. Was invited to dinner, but had to attend a funeral.

Then, two weeks later,

March 22, 1825. Called to see Mr. Bacon, the new congregational minister of the 1st Society in this city. He is, to all appearance, a pleasant [358/359] young man—but, I should think, unequal to the task which he has undertaken. Time will show.


June 3, 1835. Went to Captain Goodrich's, by Invitation, to see his daughter married by Mr. Bacon to Frederick Uhlhorn. A splendid wedding. After the ceremony, took my cake and wine, and then took my leave, as I had no desire to meet the throng of company invited at a later hour. Mr. Bacon has improved the mode of conducting a marriage, since I have witnessed one, as performed in the Presbyterian way. But it is still a meagre service.

July 10, 1829. At 3 P. M. went by invitation to the Dedication of the new congregational meeting-house [on Court Street]. It was a shabby concern—all the exercises being meagre and spiritless, with the exception of the sermon by Mr. Bacon, which was probably none of his best. President Day began by reading a portion of scripture, gathered partly from the Chronicles, and partly from Solomon's dedication prayer, but without any intimation from whence he was reading. It was all continued on, as if nothing intervened—and Solomon's prayer was used with omissions, till he got to the middle—and then he stopped, and gave out a hymn of eight verses. This being all sung out. with the congregation sitting—Professor Fitch made one of his long hitching prayers, with no other difference, only that he began by substituting a wretched imitation of Dr. Barber's drawling for his native grunt [Dr. Barber being a teacher of elocution]. This was followed by another singing, and the sermon—and then another prayer, by a strange clergyman, and another hymn. The main body of the house was filled with ladies, the galleries with men and boys, the platform under the pulpit with deacons—one of whom slept quietly through the whole concern, in which exercise he was devoutly followed by more than one of the fair sex—and I could not blame them. About five ministers were in the pulpit—which Professor Fitch was particular to dedicate, together with the seats,—but nothing else.

May 10, 1821. Passed round to the North-West corner of the Green, where the Methodists were laying the corner-stone of their new meetinghouse [on the Green]. Like a presbyterian dedication, it was a formless jumble of exercises, consisting of singing three hymns, making a prayer, and delivering an address, all carried on by their minister, Mr. Thatcher. The corner-stone, however, instead of being the top of the corner, was the first stone laid in the foundation, several feet under ground! On this stone, and in this awkward situation, the little minister performed his several parts—speaking, not as out of a tub, but as if immersed in a cistern—the people standing in the deep trenches, or on the banks, or on the piles of lumber and stone with which the place was encumbered. He discharged the office, however, with a considerable degree of propriety—and with a zeal and enthusiasm peculiar to his sect. The Methodists had been violently opposed by the Presbyterians in their project of erecting this house in so public a place—but this had in no wise disheartened them; and their opponents, finding force ineffectual, had resorted to softer means, and had finally offered them a sum of money, say about $1200, to induce them to select a more retired spot. This was resented, and the work pushed with renewed ardor. The house will stand within two or three hundred feet of the Meeting-House of the United Society, and about an equal distance from [359/360] the dwelling-house of the President of Yale College. No wonder, therefore, that the Presbyterians are opposed to the erection.

Without further multiplication of such passages, I pass to other phases of his disapproval of the manifestations of sectarian activity.

July 19, 1821. Abigail Heaton called to talk with me on the subject of her joining a missionary family to go to the Sandwich Islands (one among the latest of the sectarian schemes). She is an excellent, pious, and warmhearted girl, who has been persuaded by the arts of Presbyterians to believe, that it is her duty to sacrifice herself to the visionary object of civilizing and then Christianizing the natives of these islands. The plain English of the business is—that a number of indigent young men have been gratuitously educated by the Presbyterians for the purpose of going on foreign missions. But, timid souls, the terrors of such a mission as their employers demand are too great, unless the girls will go with them! . . . Lord help us! what are we coming to? As Miss Heaton is a fine girl, and a very worthy communicant of the Church, ... I am satisfied that it is my duty to endeavour to rescue her from the snare thus laid for her by a set of men, possessing more than Jesuitical cunning.

April 25, 1822. Spent the evening at Mr. Heaton's, where there was half a dozen of their friends. Here I was informed of another of the ten thousand schemes which are invented to draw Churchmen into allegiance with schismatics. Mr. Heaton had been invited by the Presbyterian ladies to join them in a society for converting the Jews! When will this shameful ostentation cease?

July 11, 1823. Attended a meeting of a few gentlemen at Hitchcock's office, at the request of Judge White, for the purpose of making some arrangements for re-organizing a Bible Society, auxiliary to the National Bible Society. Found Theodore Dwight from New York, President Day, Mr. Merwin, Mr. Luckey, and Judge White, besides Mr. Hitchcock. Dwight asserted that agents were coming from New York to attend to the business, and wished a meeting to be notified on Tuesday evening next, in the newspapers and in the pulpits. He pretended that Dr. Lyell [a New York rector] was coming among the agents. Having seen the pill well sugared over in this way, I very deliberately entered into an explanation of my reasons for declining to promote the object, either directly or indirectly, grounded generally upon the impropriety of attempting to amalgamate religious denominations, &c.

Other passages show how the author allowed his surmises of sectarian politics and of mixed motives to govern him also in the field of humanitarian effort.

December 13, 1829. Preached my new re-written sermon, on intolerance and bigotry, from Romans xiv, 4, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant," &c. It had been preached for the last time twelve years ago—and as I altered the text and the matter, nobody dreamed of its being re-written—especially as it was supposed to have a bearing on certain transactions now in progress. The Congregationalists have entered into a combination to denounce and proscribe every man, woman, and child, who will not subscribe to the total abstinence system.

[361] June 8, 1855. A young man came, to get subscribers for Maine-law publications, and gave me an opportunity to express my opinions on the whole fanatical concern.

January 8, 1830. Wrote a note to Professor Goodrich, declining his invitation to attend a meeting to be held this evening at the "Middle Brick," to get up a fever about the Georgia Indians [that is, for the protection of the Cherokees in retaining their lands]. . . . [Added later:] A large meeting assembled, as I understand; and Professor Goodrich took occasion to say, that there was no political motive in the business; it was a grand Christian scheme, &c.

June 22, 1854. Had all sorts of calls in the morning. Among others, a black man seeking aid to buy his family, out of slavery, into poverty and misery. Treated him kindly, and sent him to the abolitionists.

July 24, 1855. Spent a portion of the forenoon, in preparing a brief and pungent reply to the circular received yesterday from the New England Emigrant Aid Company, to be enclosed in an envelope, already stamped, and directed to Rev. E. E. Hale, of Worcester. An impudent attempt to draw me into a political crusade against the admission of Kansas, &c.

As a contrast to the picture quoted above, of a corner-stone service by Methodists, I cite the description of the ceremony, eight years later, when what we know as St. Paul's Church was begun:—

Saturday, April 8, 1829. A fine day—and a proud and splendid day for the Churchmen of New Haven. The Corner-stone of the new Chapel was to be laid in the afternoon—and a considerable part of the forenoon was taken up in preparation. Opened Trinity Church at 1 o'clock, and admitted the Sunday School. The congregation collected at 2. Mr. Hawks [the assistant minister] read a selection of service for the occasion, highly appropriate. A procession was then formed—Sunday-School first—singers—Wardens and Vestry—Building Committee—Contractors—Clergy—Officiating Clergy—and then citizens, etc., a street full. The clergy of other denominations had been invited—and a part of them attended, with President Day at their head. On coming to the foundation of the new chapel, Psalms selected were read in appropriate responses—then a Hymn sung—then the stone was laid by me—then Mr. Hawks read a prayer—and I closed with a spirited address, which the puritans won't forget in a hurry.

For sixteen years St. Paul's Chapel was administered in conjunction with Trinity Church by the Rector and his assistants; and it was only after a long and hard-fought struggle, in which Dr. Croswell was worsted, that an independent church was organized. The Diary for March 23, 1845, tells the result:—

Pleasant as the day was ... it had many painful associations, for to-morrow the parish meeting is to decide the question on the division of the parish—and doubtless in favor of the suicidal measure.

The error in the gloomy prophecy of the last words recalls an earlier instance of similar perverseness, respecting the [361/362] what is now Trinity College, which Dr. Croswell had tried hard to secure for New Haven:—

May 6, 1824. The Trustees of Washington College met in New Haven this day, and after some discussion, fixed the location of that Institution in Hartford—a location which will probably prove fatal to the interests of the institution.

These instances of defeated plans suggest what was Dr. Croswell's outstanding fault of temperament, and none the less so, although, so far as the Diary reveals, it was one of which he was utterly unconscious. While gracious and affable in ordinary intercourse, he showed himself in more serious matters of policy, where opinions differed, strong-willed, self-sufficient, and autocratic, particularly in official relations with his assistants and his vestry, and was often unjust and severe in his reflections on those who were not willingly subservient to his purposes.

He had a genuine interest in the prosperity of New Haven; but was chary, doubtless from convictions of duty, of giving public expression to his views on any local measure which might possibly make differences in the parish through sectarian or political controversy, while at the same time indulging in the freest criticism on the pages of his Diary. An early specimen of such criticism occurs in his notes on the removal of the stones from the old burying-ground, in the centre of the public Green, in 1821:—

May 22. Amid the cares and duties which necessarily devolve upon me, it is my lot to be vexed and troubled with the endless schemes of sectarians to draw me into responsibilities which may affect my popularity and diminish my usefulness. Some time last season, a scheme was set on foot to get rid of the monuments and grave stones in the old burying-ground. It being a very tender subject, the promoters of the scheme were under the necessity of proceeding cautiously—and they accordingly caused a town-meeting to be called, and a committee was appointed to propose plans to effect the object . I cannot recollect the course which the affair took in all its details—but the result was, the appointment of a committee to carry a certain plan into effect. I heard a rumor at the time, that all the clergymen of the city were placed on that committee, for the purpose of giving a sanction to the proposed measure. But I received no notice of the appointment, nor was I called upon to meet with them. Last week, however, a notice appeared in the newspapers, stating that this committee being now ready to proceed to the removal, would delay till the 20th of the month, to give to any person so disposed, an opportunity to remove the tombstones or remains of their friends to their private lots in the new burying-ground. At the same time, Abraham Bishop, Esq., called upon me with an address which he had written to be delivered at one of the meeting-houses on the occasion of the removal, and which he wished me to peruse and return to him this day. He partially disclosed the scheme—and common report furnished me with the rest. The committee, it seems, [362/363] consisted of James Hillhouse, Esq., Abraham Bishop, Esq., William Mix, Esq., and the four clergymen of the city—that is, one Churchman, two Congregationalists, and one Methodist—the laymen of the Committee being all Congregationalists. This committee, or in other words Mr. Hillhouse, by the help of Mr. Bishop, had agreed to purchase of the said Mr. Hillhouse a piece of waste land, near the new burying-grounds in the suburbs of the town, at a most enormous price [$280 an acre] and to cause all the remaining gravestones to be removed thither, and set up in the ground in due order, about a mile from the place where the bodies were deposited! . . . To a project so ridiculous it only remained to obtain the sanction of the ministers, and then the projectors flattered themselves that everything would go down smoothly with the people—a calculation too often made with great success. I resolved, however, to improve the first opportunity that had been afforded me, of washing my hands of any participation in the measure. I stood alone, as the sole representative of the largest religious society in town,—I had no concern in the affair,—had no connections in the burying-ground—and had a very unfavorable opinion of the plan.

Again, a month later,

June 26. At 8 o'clock in the morning, the bells began to ring for the grand parade of removing the old burying-ground—that is, for preparing the public mind for the removal of the grave-stones. The people assembled at Mr. Taylor's meeting-house, and a course of services were performed in this wise—Singing—prayer by Mr Merwin, giving a detailed account of many things of which he supposed the people were ignorant, but of which he could not have supposed the Being whom he affected to address was ignorant—singing again—then Mr. Hill, the baptist minister, performed the dignified office of reading Mr. Bishop's address. He strutted in his borrowed plumes, and put on such a pompous air as to render this part of the exhibition ridiculous. He was followed by Mr. Thatcher, the methodist minister, who laid out the ground for a long extempore address—but observing, before he was through with his exordium, that the people were withdrawing, he very abruptly broke off. . . . After singing once more, Mr. Taylor made the concluding prayer. Mr. Hillhouse, with some hired labourers, now proceeded to the burying-ground, and began to pull down the old grave-stones, and the work is to proceed until they are all removed. These circumstances are detailed by others, for, instead of being present, I visited Nancy Bonticou, &c.

I may trespass on your time to add a few other notes relating to special localities or more general incidents.

September 9, 1825. . . . Stopped a momnt at Mrs. Sanford's. . . . Walked on, it being a delightful morning, taking the powder-house road [i.e., Prospect Street] till I came to the forest about Hillhouse's avenue—crossed the avenue which I now saw in its whole extent for the first time.

He probably refers to the view from the cleared space on which the Hillhouse mansion was built a little later; the avenue itself had long been known.

[364] May 6, 1826. This day the canal-commissioners decided on the route of the Canal through the city, taking the middle or Creek-route—a question which has excited much interest in the town.

Two other routes had been especially talked of,—one issuing through Brewery Street to Long Wharf, and one coming out next to Tomlinson Bridge.

February 19, 1828. Towards noon it was announced that the Canal was full of water—and at 3 in the afternoon a boat was put afloat, and was lifted up all the locks in town, passing through the whole length of the Canal to the basin of Mr. Hillhouse, and returning to the last level. The crowd to witness this first exhibition was immense, and filled the town with joy, the bells rang, cannons fired, &c.

March 18, 1839. Was called to visit a poor sick woman at Barnesville [t. e., Fair Haven], and just as I left her the Steam Boat arrived and I stopped to see for the first time the train of railroad cars start off. It was but a small train, but it went off in good style.

Daily trains had been running from New Haven to Meriden since the 1st of January.

His first embarkation on a railroad had been three and a half years earlier, in New York City, when he wrote:

August 18, 1835. We had barely time to get on board the rail-road line for Philadelphia. . . . This was my first experience on rail-roads—and the first sensations were very singular. I could not at first divest myself of the idea, that we were drawn by a team of horses upon the full run—but I soon became accustomed to it, and felt perfectly at ease.

Of the conditions of travel on foot at that day, a single citation will represent what those whose memory goes back before the Civil War can recall:—

January 26, 1839. A most tempestuous North East rain storm. After praying with the Superior Court undertook to get to the Post Office [that is, from Temple St. to the railroad cut] but the rain came in torrents, and I found Chapel Street so flooded, that is was impossible to get along without going deeper than my overshoes would warrant, and so I gave it up.

I quote but one more narrative—that of the commemoration in 1838 of the founding of the town:—

Wednesday, April 25. This day being fixed upon by the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the settlement of New Haven, it was turned into a gala-day, and many fantastic pranks were performed, official and non-official. Ringing of bells and firing of cannon opened and closed the day. A procession was formed at 9 A.M. at the State House, consisting of everybody and everybody's children, and escorted by two military companies and a band of music. This body [364/365] moved to the corner of College and George Streets, where the Pilgrims held their first meeting, under an oak—and here were prayers and singing—and then proceeded round the original squares, and returned to the Center meeting-house, where they had religious services, and a historical discourse by Professor Kingsley. I had been invited to take part in these exercises, but declined, and Mr. Bennett [the Assistant Minister] was called in to fill the gap. I had a quiet forenoon at home.

From these somewhat rambling excursions into the Diary I return to the expression in a more general way of the light on Dr. Croswell's character and influence, to be gathered from his writings. The lapse of nearly sixty years since his death has left with us scarcely any who can testify from mature and intimate recollection of what he was in private intercourse, and what his standards and purposes were, as shown in the direct results of his prolonged ministry. But the Diary reveals, beyond what his contemporaries witnessed or imagined, the mental habit and springs of action of the author.

He was not what we call a good judge of men, and his record bristles with hasty estimates, both favorable and unfavorable—to be followed later by virtual retractions and revisions of opinion; but I think I am not mistaken in inferring that his severest criticisms were those of the pen, while in personal intercourse with his fellowmen he was uniformly genial and overflowing with practical beneficence. With regard to this last trait, it is evident that, like the rest of his generation, he observed none of the methods of our modern Organized Charities. Beggars thronged his door, and found him the easiest of prey, while fully aware of his own weakness.

His standard of duty to his own people was extraordinarily high. The constantly recurring opportunities of intellectual and social recreation in a University town were resolutely and consistently set aside, on principle, for the sake of the commonplace offices incumbent on the chief pastor of a large city parish, in which the poor and the friendless were always the major and the more appealing part. In his conception of the Christian ministry, here lay his strength and his special call to service. To this work he had consecrated in a characteristically matter-of-fact way all his powers of mind and body; he had no ambition for place or power in any wider sphere; but in his own province he brooked no interference and allowed no rival. To the last week of his life he kept in his own hands all the details of his official charge, and fulfilled his ideal of the rectorship of Trinity Church, without fear or favor, under responsibility to no one but his Divine Master.

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