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The combination of the three causes gradually | They respected Trinity Church, although they gave Newport a marked eminence among the converted the other churches of the town into chief American towns. A large foreign and riding-schools and hospitals. domestic trade arose. Increasing wealth and the The clock in the tower was made by William constant visits of polished strangers, imparted to Claggett, a Welshman, who lived for twenty its society a character of dignity and intelligence years in Newport. He also made the first elecwhich was remarkable at that period. At the com- trical machine ever seen in New England, from mencement of the eighteenth century, about half of a description. When Franklin visited Newport, the inhabitants were Quakers; and until nearly the he saw such apparatus for the first time. close of the previous century, there had been only! But the most interesting reminiscence of Trintwo “orders of Christians” in the town, Baptists ity Church is its connection with George Berkeand Quakers.* In 1702, the first Trinity (Episco-ley, Dean of Derry, in Ireland, and the famous pal) Church was built; and in 1724, there were too Bishop Berkeley of scholastic history, Pope's many Episcopalians to be accommodated in the friend, who sang of him— building. The present edifice was completed in “ To Berkeley every virtue under heaven;" 1726. “It was acknowledged by the people of and of whom Bishop Atterbury said, “ So much
understanding, so much knowledge, so much innocence, and such humility I did not think had been the portion of any but angels, until I saw this gentleman.” And Dr. Blackwell, author of the Court of Augustus : “I scarce remember to have conversed with him on that art, liberal or mechanic, of which he knew not more than the ordinary practitioners.”
Berkeley is one of the most illustrious of the many famous names associated with Newport and Rhode Island.
He was born of English parents, in Ireland, in the year 1684. He had written a famous book before he was twenty, and in 1709 carried Locke's principles to their legitimate results, and denied the existence of matter, in two treatises which interested and astonished the scientific and philosophic world, and founded a school of metaphysicians. In February, 1713, Berkeley came to London, and was introduced to the “ learned and the great” by Dr. Jonathan Swift and
Sir Richard Steele, then at TRINITY CHURCH.
the height of his prosperous that day to be the most beautiful timber structure career. The Sir Richard of literary history, and in America." The original pastor, James Honey-the “ Dick” of private delight, had just established man, died July 1750, “a paralytic disorder” the Guardian, to which Berkeley was one of the having “interrupted him in the pulpit ” ten most frequent contributors, and at his house the years before, but without impairing his under- young Irishman was made acquainted with the standing. In 1768, the new tower was built. poet Pope, with whom he always afterward In 1776 came the British, who staid until 1779. lived in the closest friendship. He went as
Earl Peterborough's chaplain to Sicily, and * Bishop Berkeley writes from Newport, April 24th, 1729 : “ They all agree in one point, that the Church of
| there carefully saw and studied everything England is the second best."
upon the island. In 1715 he went abroad
again, and visited Malebranche in Paris. The per annum, and devote his life to the instruction French metaphysician was suffering with an in- of the savage Americans for £100 yearly. Swift flammation of the lungs, which was so aggra- writes to Lord Carteret, recommending Berkeley vated by the fury of his debate with the benign to his assistance, and says “ His heart will break Berkeley upon the favorite theory of the latter, if his deanery be not taken from him and left to that it killed the “man of facts” a few days your Lordship's disposal ;" and concludes by after. The young philosopher traveled for four entreating “Your Excellency," either to keep years upon the Continent, and, returning to Sicily, one of the first men in this kingdom for learning accumulated rich material for a natural history and virtue quiet at home,” or to assist him “to of the island, which was all lost upon the home- compass his romantic design." Horace Walpole, ward voyage, and the plan abandoned.
in his “ Anecdotes of Painting in England," Upon his first arrival in London, Dean Swift speaks of “the uncertain but amusing scheme had introduced him to Mrs. Esther Vanhomrigh, of the famous Dean Berkeley, afterward Bishop the Vanessa of Swift's amours, who removed, a of Cloyne, whose benevolent heart was then few years before her death, to Ireland, to enjoy warmly set upon the erection of a universal colthe society of the Dean, but discovered, with lege of science and arts for the instruction of dismay, that the Dean was enjoying the society heathen children in Christian duties and civil of Stella. Mrs. Vanhomrigh thereupon altered knowledge." her will, and left the whole of her fortune of Sir Robert Walpole was ordered by the king £8000 to be divided between two executors, of to lay the plan before Parliament, and the sum whom Dr. George Berkeley was one. Upon ex- of £20,000 was promised to the undertaking. amining her effects, Dr. Berkeley discovered a The philosopher was married in August, 1728, correspondence between Cadenus and Vanessa, and sailed immediately afterward for Rhode Island, which he destroyed, not, as he confessed to Dr. The common, but incorrect, tradition* asserts Delany and others, that there was any thing that the captain of the ship was trying to find criminal in the letters, but the lady's style was Bermuda, and failing to do so, sailed northward too warm for the public eye. In 1724 he was made until he descried a land which was supposed to Dean of Derry, with £1100 a year; and in 1725 be inhabited by savages. It was Block Island, published A Proposal for the better supplying from which two men came off and told the officers of Churches on our foreign plantations, and for and the Dean that Newport was near. But the converting the Savage Americans to Christianity, ship sailed into the West Passage, beyond Beaverby a College to be erected on the Summer Islands, tail Point, and anchored there. Berkeley disotherwise called the Isles of Bermuda.
patched a messenger with a letter to the Rev. In the course of this document, the good Dean Mr. Honeyman, pastor of Trinity Church in enlarges upon the necessity of religious instruc- Newport, “informing them,” according to Uption for the negroes, and says of the planters dike's History of the Church in Narragansett, that “their slaves would only become better " that a great dignitary of the Church of England slaves by being Christian.” He says in another called Dean, was on board the ship, together with place: “ It is further proposed to ground these other gentlemen passengers.” It was a holyday, young Americans (meaning Indians) thoroughly and Mr. Honeyman was at church. But the in religion and morality” -and they are to be letter was delivered to him in the pulpit, and he “ particularly” tinctured with “ eloquence, his- read it aloud to the congregation. It was evident tory, and practical mathematics." All this was that the “ great dignitary" might arrive at any to be done by a seminary upon the Summer moment. The church was therefore dismissed Islands, sometimes called the Isles of Bermuda, with the blessing, and Mr. Honeyman with his of which the philanthropic and poetic Bishop congregation, proceeded to the Ferry Wharf, and gives a delightful account. The reader little arrived in time to receive and welcome their fancies, as he sees this name, that his author is guest. speaking of Shakspeare's “ still vext Ber- A letter written from Newport, and published moothes,” and will naturally demand how isl- in the New England Weekly Journal in Boston, ands lying in an equable latitude, and washed in the spring of 1729, says: by a gentle sea, bearing the halcyon name of the “Yesterday arrived here Dean Berkeley, of Summer Islands, whose climate, “like the latter Londonderry, in a pretty large ship. He is a end of a fine May,” so favored the growth of gentleman of middle stature, of an agreeable, oranges that the region was famous for them, pleasant, and erect aspect. He was ushered into can also be the stormy scene of “The Tempest," the town with a great number of gentlemen, to famous as “still vext?” The explanation is whom he behaved himself after a very complaisimple. The islands are girded with a wall of sant manner. 'Tis said he purposes to tarry here rocks, and are accessible only by two narrow with his family about three months.” entrances. The sea, heaving and tossing upon Soon after his arrival he purchased a farm of the rocks, gives the region a stormy and forbid- about a hundred acres, adjoining that of the Rev. ding aspect even in tranquil weather; and in Mr. Honeyman, from whom Honeyman's Hill Shakspeare's time the isles were supposed to be takes its name. It lies about three miles from peopled by monsters and devils.
* Berkeley writes to Thomas Prior, from Gravesend, Upon the publication of this Proposal, Berke- ' .
Sept. 5th, 1728: “To-morrow, with God's blessing, 1 set ley offered to resign his preferment of £1100 sail for Rhode Island ...... Direct for me in Rhode Island.”
the town, upon the Green End Road. He there island, and opens with a direct reference to his built a house and called it Whitehall, in memory, project of a college. Instead of detailing his disdoubtless, of the palace of Charles I., for which appointment he says, “I rather choose......to king the Dean's family had suffered many trials entertain you with some amusing incidents, which and losses.
have helped to make me easy under a circum
stance I could neither obviate nor foresee.” He speaks of “half-adozen pleasant fields planted round with plane-trees, that are very common in this part of the country.” Crevecæur also, just before the Revolution, remarks the roads planted upon either side with acacias and plane trees; ornaments that fell with the prosperity of the island. In the second dialogue, the disputants, “after breakfast, went down to a beach about half a mile off, where we walked on the smooth sand, with the ocean on one hand, and on the other wild broken rocks, interrnixed with shady trees and springs of
water.” And again : “ So we REAL
changed the discourse, and after a
repast upon cold provisions, took a WHITEHALL.
walk on the strand, and in the cool This house lies in the valley near a hill com- of the evening returned to Crito's.” In sweet manding a broad and beautiful prospect. He and simple colors he thus paints a picture stated his reasons to be, that to enjoy the prospect which is still as fresh as when he saw it. from the hill, he must visit it only occasionally ; “ Here we had a prospect on one hand of a narfor if his residence should be on the hill, the view row bay or creek of the sea, inclosed on either would be so common as to lose all its charms. side by a coast beautified with rocks and woods
Berkeley gives a pleasant account of his new and green banks and farm-houses. At the end home in a letter to Thomas Prior, from which we of a bay was a small town, placed upon the slope have already quoted his testimony to the charms of a hill, which, from the advantage of its situaof the Newport climate. “The provisions are tion, made a considerable figure. Several fishing very good, so are the fruits, which are quite neg boats and lighters gliding up and down on a surlected. ... ... The town of Newport contains six face as smooth and bright as glass, enlivened the thousand souls, and is the most thriving place prospect. On the other side we looked down on in all America for bigness. I was never more green pastures, flocks, and herds, basking beagreeably surprised than at the first sight of the neath in sunshine...... Here we felt that sort town and harbor." Whitehall is not far from the of joyful instinct which a rural scene and fine second, or Sachuest, beach, which is the Corso, weather inspire." the Hyde Park, the Cascine, the Bois de Bou- It is to the first flush of enthusiasm in his prologne, of the Newport “ season." The low rocky ject that we owe the famous ode, in which the and sandy bluff which lies along part of this poet, as of old, appears as the Prophet. beach is called The Hanging Rocks. The
“Westward the star of Empire takes its way; pleasantness of the situation, its neighborhood to
The four first acts already past, him, and its solitude, naturally drew a musing
A fifth shall close the drama with the day; scholar thither.
Time's noblest offspring is the last." He had his chair and writing apparatus Charmed with his situation, he became graduplaced in a natural alcove, which he found in the ally convinced that his college ought to be upon most elevated part of the Hanging Rocks, roofed, the mainland, and he sought to have his charter aland only open to the south, commanding at once tered to that effect. “The truth is," he writes, .... a view of Sachuest beach, the ocean, and the cir- “ I should like it better than Bermuda.” But he cumjacent islands.
gradually perceived that his scheme had failed. There is no doubt that, sitting and strolling Sir Robert Walpole had evidently very little among these rocks, the Minute Philosopher was intention of paying the £20,000 promised to the meditated and composed. It is the last great undertaking, and the money was spent in a marwork of Berkeley, and still remains great. Mod-riage portion to a princess. But while success eled upon Plato's Dialogues, of which he was a was still uncertain—while, by his frequent resort, loving student, it “ pursues the freethinker through he gave to Sachuest, or the second beach, that the various characters of atheist, libertine, enthu-human interest which a century later Channing siast, scorner, critic, metaphysician, fatalist, and gave to Easton's, or the first beach, by confessing skeptic.”
that “no spot on earth has helped to form me so It is full of allusions to the scenery of the much as that beach"—the society of Newport
used often to hear him preach in Trinity Church.as the “ Redwood Library Company.” The His preaching is reputed to have been “ eloquent success of this movement informs us of the inand forcible,” and drew large congregations to telligent tone of Newport society at that time. the church. The present pulpit of Trinity is the The names of Ellery, Ward, Honeyman, Uponly one remaining from which the good Bishop dike, Checkley, Hopkins, and Johnson (aftertaught. After his return to England, for which ward President of Columbia College, in New he departed in 1731–32, he sent to America an York), appear among the original members. organ, which is still in use at Trinity Church. The Newport was already metropolitan, although fine society of that time sleep around the simple small. “Men of opulence and leisure, from quaint old building which they thronged to hear different parts, made Rhode Island the place of him, and among them lies his daughter Lucia, their permanent residence ; while it was every who died in September, 1731. The benign Bishop year the summer resort of a great number of in“though dead yet speaketh," if no longer from valids and men of leisure from the West Indies the pulpit of Trinity Church, yet his Minute Phi- and our more southern colonies. Although this losopher, read among the Hanging Rocks, shall be brought with it riches and gaiety, it brought with as good a sermon as was ever preached. Nor are it an evil-it introduced an high stile of living, its lessons more antiquated than vanity and extrav. and too frequent convivial meetings; and the disagance. What if the gay promenade should pause sipation of one season had hardly time to subside an instant and hear these words, whose sense seems before another commenced. Another serious not altogether obsolete nor inappropriate: “I evil cast a dark shade on otherwise a beautiful imagine that...... the real cause of whatever is picture, we allude to the African trade for amiss may justly be reckoned the general neglect other purposes than bringing gold dust and of education in those who need it most, the peo- ivory !” says the delicate Dr. Waterhouse in ple of fashion. What can be expected where 1821. those who have the most influence have the least One of the finest figures in that stately sociesense, and those who are sure to be followed set ty of old Newport is Abraham Redwood, from the worst example; where youth so uneducated | whom the Library was named. He was born in are yet so forward; where modesty is esteemed the island of Antigua, about the year 1720, and pusillanimity, and a deference to years, knowl. was educated in Philadelphia with due regard to edge, religion, laws, want of sense and spirit ?" | his immense fortune and expectations. He marSuch questions were asked by the most religious ried in Rhode Island before he was twenty years of philosophers upon Sachuest beach in 1730, old, and lived there until he was about eighty, and such was the substance of a Dean's discourses in a style of opulence becoming his fortune, in Trinity Church
| mixed with the elegant simplicity of the Quaker." A portrait of the Bishop and his family is pre- His town-house and country-house were apserved at Yale College. It was painted by John pointed with every refined luxury, and his munifiSmybert, an artist whom the Dean's eloquence cence not only made his name famous by donatempted from England, and of whom President tions to public institutions, but inspired a hundred Ezra Stiles, one of the honored and historical private charities which made it blessed. When names of Newport, says, that upon his landing he was yet a young man there were but two in Newport he instantly recognized the Indians colleges in New England, at Cambridge and there (the Narragansetts) to be the same people New Haven. In 1747, Mr. Redwood presented as the Siberian Tartars, two of whom had been the Society £500 for the purchase of books, and presented by the Czar of Russia to the Grand £5000 were subscribed in the town to erect a Duke of Tuscany, at whose court Smybert had building. In 1748, Henry Collins, one of the painted them. Before he returned to England fine old Newport merchants, “the Lorenzo de Berkeley gave part of his library to Yale College, Medici of Rhode Island," presented a lot of land and afterward sent out a thousand volumes, which to the Society, and the present building was comPresident Clapp calls “the finest collection of pleted in 1750, from the designs of Mr. Harbooks that ever came at one time to America." rison, an architect long resident in Newport. “He alsn," says Professor Goodrich, “sent a The donation of Mr. Redwood was well spent, deed of his farm on Rhode Island, to be held in and the library was rich in classical and theologtrust for the support of three students between ical literature. So valuable was it in the latter their first and second degrees. In 1834 this respect, that Dr. Ezra Stiles, a famous theofarm of Whitehall produced about $150 rent, logical name in New England, became its liannually, which was regularly applied to the brarian for nearly twenty years; and, according purpose.
to Dr. Waterhouse, often declared that he owed Berkeley was contemporary upon the island to that collection his great attachment to literawith the Rev. John Callender, one of the famous ture. Newport ministers, whose Historical Discourse is The building now shares with Mr. Parish's still as valuable to the student in our day as his villa the chief architectural beauty of Newport, life and conversation were to his friends in his and holds a library of about six thousand volumes. own. Soon perceiving the character and attain. It is buried in luxuriant foliage, quite hidden ments of his companions, Dean Berkeley is sup- from Touro Street, upon which it stands, and an posed to have suggested the formation of a air of elegant repose, “the still air of delightful Literary Society, which was afterward chartered studies," forever broods over it.
REDWOOD LIBRARY. It was one summer morning about this time, proportion to its size, was so deeply engaged in in the year 1750, that some fishermen noticed at the slave trade as Rhode Island. Many of the sunrise a vessel heading for the first, or Easton's great fortunes of her merchants were amassed by beach, as if the crew were unacquainted with that traffic. So late as the year 1804-8, when the shore, or were unable to manage their craft. the ports of South Carolina were opened for the She was presently “seen to be a brig, and came on importation of slaves, there were, of 202 vessels with all sails set, and struck upon the northwest employed in the traffic, 70 British, 61 from corner of the beach. The fishermen instantly Charleston, and 59 from Rhode Island. From boarded her, but found no living thing except a Boston there was one, and from Connecticut dog and a cat”-not even Hood's bachelor to sing one, and no others from the present Northern
States. Of the whole number of slaves import“What do you think of that, my dog?
ed, which was 38,775, there were 7238 brought And what do you think of that, my cat ?" in Rhode Island vessels, and 450 in all other In the kitchen the fire was burning, the kettle New England craft. Between 1730 and 1750 was boiling, and the table was spread for break the slave trade of Rhode Island increased with fast. Every thing was in its place but the long. the West India trade, negroes being brought back boat, which was missing. The brig was from | as part of the return cargoes. Yet it seems not Honduras, well freighted, and had been spoken to have been countenanced by the Legislature, for only four days before she struck. She was got so early as 1652, the practice of slavery is deoff, and was bought at auction by Henry Collins, nounced, and to hold a slave more than ten years the worthy old merchant, who called her the Beach is made penal. In 1774 the importation into bird, but her original name was never known. Nor the colony was prohibited ; and ten years afterdid any tidings of her crew or their fortune ever ward, it is provided that all children of slaves come to land. Had they taken to the long-boat born after March 1st, 1784, shall be free. to escape, when they found themselves setting At this time, 1730-50, the trade of Newport inevitably to the shore, they would certainly have was very extensive. There were thirty distillsoon landed and claimed their brig. Were they, eries constantly at work, and the rum was experhaps, lost upon some treacherous reef, just as ported to Africa, and procured the slaves there. as they were gaining the shore ? or had some There were not less than forty or fifty vessels enbold buccaneer carried them off with their treas-gaged in this traffic, and their owners were the ure, at dawn, within sight of shore, and then light-leading merchants of Newport. The Quakers ed the fire and made the quiet domestic arrange- did not scruple to own them. Joseph Jacobs, an ments which should deceive astonished lands opulent old Newporter of that persuasion, had men ?
several slaves who “ wore the plain garb of the The “ dark shade," of which the venerable Dr. Quakers.” And a recent historian of Newport, Waterhouse speaks, is a blot upon the history Mr. Peterson, who has amassed a curious collecof the flourishing days of Newport. Probably tion of historical facts, declares, that “to see the none of the northern colonies, certainly none in negro women, with their black hoods and blue