« PrejšnjaNaprej »
This book formerly belonged to BENJAMIN PETER HUNT, who was born in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on the 18th lay of May, 1808. His ancestors were of the early Puritan stock, and in 1641 we find one of them, "William Hunt, admitted freeman of Concord," and in 1655 another, Edmund Chamberlain, the same, of Chelmsford. From is mother (Olive Chamberlain) Hunt, he inherited a wonderfully retentive memory, a calm and impartial judgment, and the absotute loathing of all deception, shams, and falsehood, which made him such a terror to evil-doers. His valuable library was left to his heirs-neices and nephews.
He attended the common school until he was seventeen, when a year spent under the instruction of Ralph Waldo Emerson, at the Chelmsford Academy, gave him an impulse to a higher education. In 1828 he entered Harvard College, the classmate, among others, of the Rev. Doctors Bellows and Osgood, the Honorable Geo. T. Curtis, John S. Dwight Esq., and the Rev. Charles T. Brooks. Not remaining to finish the course, he came to Philadelphia, literally to seek his fortune. He taught a classical and scientific school for a number of years, reading everything that came in his way, and always seeking for his associates the cultivated and refined of both sexes. At last, disgusted with the schoolmaster's drudgery, he determined to adopt a new calling, and sailed for Kingston, Ja., on the 6th of March, 1840, as supercargo of the brig "Olive Chamberlain." An account of this voyage was published in two numbers of "The Dial," in 1843. Emerson speaks of it as follows: "It seems to me the best of all sea voyages. Besides its rhetorical value, it has another quite additional, inasmuch as it realizes so fully for me the promise of the large, wise boy who made my school-days in Chelmsford so glad by his lively interest in books and his native delight in ethical thought, and life looks more solid and rich to me when I see these many years keep their faith." Hawthorne cites this piece from "The Dial "9 as "a solitary example of facts which had not lost their vigor by passing through the mind of a thinker.
In 1842 Mr. Hunt went to Hayti to engage in mercantile business, landing at Cape Haytien in May, 1842, just after the earthquake had nearly buried the town. Here, at the scene of the defeat of Le Clerc's expedition, he visited the birthplace of Toussaint, and the old haunts of Dessalines and Christophe, and here began his study of the West Indian negro character and his almost unique collection of books relating to these islands. Success attended his efforts, and he became the head of a wealthy commercial house in Port-auPrince. The natural integrity of his character, his close attention to business, and his pleasure in literature, kept him from the dissipation and immorality into which foreigners
in the West Indies so often fall. In 1851 he married a lady of Philadelphia, and in 1858, after making several visits to the United States, his health began to fail, and he retired from business, making Philadelphia his home, and he was only too happy to spend his life in his quiet library among his beloved books. A sincere abolitionist, Mr. Hunt early took part in the work for the freedmen, and earnestly labored as the Corresponding Secretary of the Port Royal Relief Committee, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association-which latter position he relinquished when it became a salaried office,-and as one of the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Soldiers in Pennsylvania. When the war was ended, he set himself to right the wrongs of the colored people in his adopted city.
In June, 1869, Mr. Hunt was requested by President Grant, through Secretary Fish, to 'join a party of gentlemen, going to the West Indies for the purpose of obtaining information concerning several interesting localities in those islands, but more especially Saint Domingo." This project of annexation was very dear to him, but from motives entirely different from such as governed many of those interested in the subject. To some it was either the advantages of a coaling station, or so much more gold, sugar, coffee, and rum added, free of duty, to their commerce; but to him it was the door which opened the way for our laws, civilization, and Christianity, to permeate a half-barbarous community of blacks, who are keeping up to this day many of the superstitious practices which they brought from Africa. On the eve of the commission's departure from New York he was obliged reluctantly to give up his share in it, on account of sickness; but he kept, to the day of his death, the unshaken faith, that, sooner or later, the islands of the West Indies will form a part of the great Republic of America; and he left, unpublished, a most interesting and valuable account of the condition of society as he found it in Hayti, which his long intercourse with its people, his sympathy for them, and his insight into character, rendered him peculiarly fitted to describe. Mr. Hunt died at the Harrison Mansion, Frankford, Philadelphia, February 2, 1877.
His physican said, "When I look at Mr. Hunt in his sufferings, I can think of no other word than 'majestic,' to describe his appearance." When some one said to him a few days before his death, "I think you will be a judge in the spirit world, for if ever any one could decide between right and wrong, justice and injustice, you are that one," he replied, "I cannot tell what I shall be there, nor even if I shall go to heaven; but whereever the Lord appoints me, and gives me a work to do, there is my place, and there I shall be satisfied." Very respectfully, SAMUEL C. HUNT, his nephew.