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ment lifted higher in the scale of being. It makes no stipulations for earthly felicity, — does not ask, in the absoluteness of its trust, even for the assurance of continued life.
CONCORD, OCTOBER 25, 1848. MY DEAR SIR: – It will be easy, as it is grateful, to me to answer your inquiries in regard to Dr. Ripley, as I still have by me some sketches which I attempted of his character very soon after his decease. Indeed, he is still freshly remembered in all this neighborhood. He was a man so kind and sympathetic, his character was so transparent, and his merits so intelligible to all observers, that he was justly appreciated in this community. He was a natural gentleman; no dandy, but courtly, hospitable, manly, and public spirited; his nature social, his house open to all men. I remember the remark made by an old farmer, who used to travel hither from Maine, that
no horse from the Eastern country would go by the Doctor's gate.” Travellers from the West and North and South could bear the like testimony. His brow was serene and open to his visitor, for he loved men, and he had no studies, no occupations, which company could interrupt. His friends were his study, and to see them loosened his talents and his tongue. In his house dwelt order, and prudence, and plenty; there was no waste and no stint; he was open-handed and just and generous. Ingratitude and meanness in his beneficiaries did not wear out his compassion; he bore the insult, and the next day his basket for the beggar, his horse and chaise for the cripple, were at their door. Though he knew the value of a dollar as well as another man, yet he loved to buy dearer and sell
cheaper than others. He subscribed to all charities, and it is no reflection on others to say that he was the most public-spirited man in town. The late Dr. Gardiner, in a Funeral Sermon on some parishioner, whose virtues did not readily come to his mind, honestly said, He was good at fires.” Dr. Ripley had many virtues, and yet all will remember that, even in his old age, if the fire bell was rung, he was instantly on horse-back with his buckets and bag.
He was never distinguished in the pulpit as a writer of sermons, but in his house his speech was form and pertinence itself. You felt, in his presence, that he belonged by nature to the clerical class. He had a foresight, when he opened his mouth, of all that he would
say, and he marched straight to the conclusion. In private discourse or in debate, in the vestry or the lyceum, the structure of his sentences was admirable, — so neat, so natural, so terse, his words fell like stones, and often, though quite unconscious of it, his speech was a satire on the loose, voluminous, patchwork periods of other speakers. He sat down when he had done. A man of anecdote, his talk in the parlor was chiefly narrative. I remember the remark of a gentleman, who listened with much delight to his conversation, at the time when the Doctor was preparing to go to Baltimore and Washington, that
a man who could tell a story so well was company for kings and John Quincy Adams. limited acquaintance with books, his knowledge was an external experience, an Indian wisdom, the observation of such facts as country life, for nearly a century, could supply. He watched with interest the garden, the field, the orchard, the house and the barn, horse, cow, sheep and dog, and all the common objects that engage the thought of the farmer. He kept his eye on the horizon, and knew the weather
With a very
like a sea-captain. The usual experiences of men, birth, marriage, sickness, death, burial, the common temptations, the common ambitions, he studied them all, and sympathized so well in these that he was excellent company and counsel to all, even the most humble and ignorant. With extraordinary states of mind, with states of enthusiasm, or enlarged speculation, he had no sympathy and pretended to none. He was very sincere, and kept to his point, and his mark was never remote. His conversation was strictly personal, and apt to the person and the occasion. An eminent skill he had in saying difficult and unspeakable things; in delivering to a man or a woman that which all their other friends had abstained from saying; in uncovering the bandage from a sore place, and applying the surgeon's knife with a truly surgical spirit. Was a man a sot, or a spendthrift, or too long time a bachelor, or suspected of some hidden crime, or had he quarrelled with his wife, or collared his father, or was there any cloud or suspicious circumstance in his behavior, the good pastor knew his way straight to that point, believing himself entitled to a full explanation; and whatever relief to the conscience of both parties plain speech could effect, was sure to be procured. In all such passages he justified himself to the conscience, and commonly to the love, of the person concerned. Many instances, in which he played a right manly part, and acquitted himself as a brave and wise man, will be long remembered. He was the more competent to these searching discourses, from his knowledge of family history. He knew everybody's grandfather, and seemed to talk with each person, rather as the representative of his house and name than as an individual. In him has perished more local and personal anecdote of this village and vicinity than is possessed by any survivor.
This intimate knowledge of families, and this skill of speech, and still more his sympathy, made him incomparable in his parochial visits, and in his exhortations and prayers with sick and suffering persons. He gave himself
up to his feeling, and said on the instant the best things in the world. Many and many a felicity he had in his prayer, now forever lost, which defied all the rules of all the rhetoricians. He did not know when he was good in prayer or sermon, for he had no literature and no art; but he believed and therefore spoke.
He was eminently loyal in his nature, and not fond of adventure or innovation. By education, and still more by temperament, he was engaged to the old forms of the New England Church. Not speculative, but affectionate; devout, but with an extreme love of order, he adopted heartily, thought in its mildest forms, the creed and catechism of the fathers, and appeared a modern Israelite in his attachment to the Hebrew history and faith. Thus he seemed, in his constitutional leaning to their religion, one of the rear-guard of the great camp and army of the Puritans; and now, when all the old platforms and customs of the church were losing their hold in the affections of men, it was fit that he should depart, fit that, in the fall of laws, a loyal man should die.