« ZurückWeiter »
SAMUEL EDWARD HERRICK.
BY GEORGE A. GORDON.
SAMUEL EDWARD HERRICK was born April 6, 1841, in Southampton, Long Island; he died in Boston December 4, 1904. He was the son of Austin Herrick, sea-captain, and Mary Wells Jagger, being of the seventh generation in direct descent from James Herrick, the first settler of that name in Southampton.
The Herrick family is an English family, and is supposed to derive descent from Eric the Forester; and if this guess is true, from an important family in Sweden. In Potter's “Charn wood Forest,” page 80, there is a note which may be of interest here: “I found on the forest a very prevailing tradition that this Eric assembled a large army at the CoptOak on Charnwood, in order to resist the Norman invader; that this Eric did bravely resist William I, and afterwards on being vanquished became one of his generals, rests on better evidence than tradition.” The English name Herrick seems to have been evolved through the mutations of time from the original Eirikr.
Samuel Edward Herrick was a lineal descendant from Sir William Eyryk of Stretton, who was commissioned to attend the Prince of Wales on his expedition into Germany in 1355. Of the same family was the poet Robert Herrick, and also Sir William, “a famous merchant” in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to whom he became a money-lender, as also to her courtiers Leicester and Essex, Sidney and Raleigh. There is still standing near the town of Southborough in Leicestershire, a beautiful mansion, on the fine estate of Beau Manor Park, where successive members of the family have lived for the last two hundred and fifty years. This house was built in the Jacobean style in 1810, on the exact site of two previous dwellings owned by the Herrick family. On the stone gateposts is carved the family crest, the bull's head that we find on an old gravestone in Southampton, Long Island, marking the grave of “Mr. William Herrick, Esq.," who was born in 1654 and died in 1708, the son of James Herrick, one of the original settlers of Southampton in 1640, then under the jurisdiction of Connecticut.
Regarding this family crest the following note appears from the hand of the subject of this memoir: “Since my memory there was hanging in the old house of my immediate ancestors at Southampton, Long Island, an ancient coat of arms, which had been there from time immemorial. It was a great protection to the family in the days of the Revolution, and to the farm while the British troops under Sir William Erskine were quartered in Southampton. So my grandmother, Phæbe P., wife of William, used to say. That coat of arms was borrowed by Edward C. Herrick, librarian of Yale College, for General Jedediah Herrick to be copied for the Register which he prepared.”
The remark may here be made how far the blood has come that flows in the veins of a representative American. In the quiet life of this Boston preacher contributions meet from New England, from Old England, and from the Scandinavian world. Such is the far reference of the life that meets one every day, and its pathos. To such a distance the old races have come; so wide have been the wanderings of the children's children. The light and shadow of an ancient world are seen every day in the faces of our fellow-citizens.
The significant events in Dr. Herrick's life may be quickly told. Birth in a happy human home full of love and Christian faith; an eager, normal, and serious boyhood; the customary preparation for college in this country fifty years ago at the Southampton Academy; matriculation in Amherst College as a sophomore at the age of fifteen, and graduation with distinction in the class of 1859; two years as a country schoolmaster at Bridgehampton, Long Island; the usual professional training at Princeton Theological Seminary, followed by ordination and settlement as a Christian preacher in the old Dutch village of Wappinger's Falls, in the State of New York, on October 13, 1863; his marriage, April 6, 1861, to Sophia Wood Foster, of Quogue, Long Island, of which union there was born one child, a daughter Margaret; his pastorate in the Broadway Congregational Church in Chelsea from 1864 to 1871. In 1871 Mr. Herrick became associate pastor with Dr. Kirk of the Mt. Vernon Church of Boston. Upon the death of Dr. Kirk he became sole pastor, and he remained in the service of this church until his own death on Sunday evening, December 4, 1904.
During his ministry in Boston many appeals came to Dr. Herrick to serve in other fields. His Alma Mater, at different times, offered him two professorships. Calls came to him from more than twenty churches all the way from Providence to San Francisco. He declined all these appeals. His church in Boston needed his leadership. He led it from a place of isolation to new opportunity, and in addition to a rich ministry to his own generation he saved a religious institution to the city.
Dr. Herrick published little. This is a subject for regret. He had a productive mind, but he was without literary ambition. He published one book, “ The Heretics of Yesterday," a work of uncommon breadth and insight. He was for some years a preacher at Yale University, and in 1881 delivered a lecture before the Divinity School in New Haven. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1878 from Amherst College.
The good preacher is of many types and of great varieties, and no man can hope to combine the essential merits of all. Indiscriminate praise is no praise. There are in the Scottish pulpit the three distinct types of preacher represented by Chalmers, Guthrie, and Caird; in the English pulpit the types presented in Robertson, Liddon, and Spurgeon; in the American pulpit the types exemplified in Channing and Bushnell, in Beecher and Brooks. The preacher must know himself and
Dr. Herrick was a preacher to thoughtful men. He could not be light or entertaining. His type was that of the preacher whose message, while penetrated with feeling, must nevertheless come through the intellect. His characteristic sermons were sermons of large and splendid vision. In their construction his eye seemed to be fixed upon some vision; he seemed in his speaking to be following this vision, translating it, part
after part, into the large and luminous order of his own dis
There was little reasoning in his sermons. He could not brook the delay of argumentation. He bebeld and he invited his hearers to behold. If they did not see, it was because they were blind.
The vision, wide, rich, consoling, was the primary force in his sermon. With the vision came, however, a pervading, glowing, remarkably elevated pressure of feeling. The beat of his heart was in every sentence; the ring of his conscience and the music of his rare sympathies could be heard more and more distinctly as the discourse went forward, and when it ended, a dream from the unseen had visited his hearers.
A man with a great and burdened heart is impatient of much remark upon his manner of speech. It seems like an impertinence to dwell upon the prophet's dress when the prophet's words are ringing in one's ears. Yet we are told that John the Baptist, the last great prophet of the Hebrew dispensation, came clad in camel's hair and living on locusts and wild honey. There was
There was a certain harmony between the message and the wild style of the man. Between the message and style of Dr. Herrick there was a remarkable harmony. Indeed part of the charm and power of Dr. Herrick's ministry lay in the extraordinary felicity of his style. It was a kind of style to which very few are equal, which would run inferior natures to certain destruction. It had a very large Latin element, and yet it was all so toned to Christian thought, so suffused with high feeling, so touched with moving associations, so instinct with life and the beauty and tenderness of life, that its stately words, its measured tread, its high bearing of precision and dignity added immensely to the effect upon the imagination and heart of his audience. Here, again, the style was the man. He was an enthusiastic Latinist, and at the same time he was steeped in the best culture of our English tongue, and through his imagination no less than through his heart there had flowed from infancy the pure stream from the greatest literary monument and model in the world, — the English Bible. Such was his type, a preacher to rare souls in a rare time, in the best sense, a select preacher to elect spirits, thoughtful, luminous, of spontaneous and pervading spirituality, elevated, serene, a prophet of the larger vision and the better hope.