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THE

HARVARD GRADUATES' MAGAZINE.

VOL. IV. MARCH, 1896. — No. 15.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SAMUEL F. SMITH.1

[ON the afternoon of Nov. 16, 1895, Dr. S. F. Smith, '29, author of the National Hymn, " America,” was taken ill in the Boston and Albany Railway Station, Boston, and died in a few minutes. He was on his way to preach the next day at Newtonville, having been in excellent health up to the moment of his death. As a fit memorial to one of the most distinguished and devoted of Harvard's alumni, the Magazine prints this short autobiography, written about a year ago, and printed, with other interesting matter, in the volume, “Poems of Home and Country: also, Sacred and Miscellaneous Verse," recently published by Messrs. Silver, Burdett & Co., Boston. The publishers, to whom the copyright belongs, have kindly given permission for this reprint. Dr. Smith twice contributed to the Harvard Graduates' Magazine, viz.: in December, 1893, Recollections of his College Life, and in December, 1894, Memorial Verses to Dr. O. W. Holmes. EDITOR.]

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I COUNT it to have been a happy lot, and possibly an inspiration to my choice of profession, that I was born under the sound of the Old North Church chimes in Boston. I understand, from veritable family records, that the modest event occurred on the 21st day of October, 1808. I confess to a little touch of satisfaction that I am permitted in my social retirement to count "Discovery Day," as we now style the arrival of Columbus in America, as my own birthday; but I have never claimed that the coincidence was worthy of note outside of the immediate Smith household.

Three years at the Eliot School, Boston, were followed by preparation for college at the Boston Latin School, from which I graduated to enter Harvard University. It certainly was a grateful experience of that preparatory training, that, in 1825, I was 1 Copyright, 1895, by Silver, Burdett & Co.

permitted to call the "Franklin Medal" my own, as well as a gold "Prize Medal" for an English poem.

My Harvard Class, 1829, brought me into intimacy with that congenial and beloved classmate, Dr. Holmes, and the friendship never abated; nor in the progress of seventy years lacking one was our tender fellowship ever lessened. Widely separated in our special lines of study, we were of "the boys" when together; and his playful reference to my being "disguised under the universal name of Smith never hurt my sensibilities, but was one of the merry things of which we made sport together.

College days too quickly sped. I then pursued a three-years' course at Andover Theological Seminary, from which I graduated September, 1832. I had meddled with verses from my childhood, and before leaving Andover wrote the hymn, "My Country, 't is of thee," "The Morning Light is breaking," and many

others.

I had "on the brain" a penchant for comparative philology; and in the theological course added four languages to my repertoire, besides accomplishing the pleasing task of reading every word of Mr. Marshman's Chinese grammar, a vast quarto, nearly as large as a family Bible.

After the close of my course at Andover, I spent a year in editorial labor in Boston. Then I became village pastor in Waterville, Maine; was ordained February 12, 1834, and at the same time became professor of Modern Languages in Waterville College, afterwards known as Colby University. During the course of eight years, on account of a vacancy in the Department of Latin and Greek Languages (for one whole year), all the Greek taught in the college was added to my department of instruction.

On the 16th of September, 1834, I was married to Miss Mary White Smith, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, granddaughter of Dr. Hezekiah Smith, chaplain for six years in the Revolutionary Army, and an intimate friend of Washington, also one of the founders of Brown University, in the State of Rhode Island.

My double service in Waterville continued until January, 1842, when I became editor of the Christian Review (quarterly), and took up my life residence at Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Becoming pastor of the First Baptist Church, I still retained my editorial chair till 1848 (seven years), and filled the pastorate for

twelve years and a half. Meanwhile, I fitted my children for college, the two elder, a son and a daughter, for the sophomore grade of college study. After resigning the pastorate, I served as the editorial secretary of the Missionary Union fifteen years, still preaching almost constantly as a stated supply.

In 1875, accompanied by my wife, I spent a year in Europe. In 1880 we undertook a second journey, which included southern Asia in its itinerary, being absent from the United States more than two years. This trip included England, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Greece, India, Ceylon, and Burmah. We visited the missions of various church societies, English, Scotch, French, German, and American, so far as time and circumstances would permit. Various correspondence had suggested the points in the field-service of the Master where labor was needed. I endeavored to learn as exactly as possible the actualities of the mission work, its methods, its personnel, its needs, its trials, and its successes.

Literary work has been the natural result of my tastes and my studies. Articles for reviews, magazines, and newspapers have been almost without number. Among books may be mentioned the "Life of Rev. Joseph Grafton," "Lyric Gems" (publisher's title), "Rock of Ages," the two latter containing many of my own composition; "The Psalmist," in connection with Baron Stow, the current hymn book of the Baptist churches throughout the United States for thirty years from 1843; "Missionary Sketches," and "Rambles in Mission Fields." These were followed by "The History of Newton," Massachusetts, 950 pages, octavo; several books edited; and various translations for the "Encyclopædia Americana," from the "German Conversations Lexicon," amounting to fully one thousand printed pages. Not far from one hundred and fifty of my hymns have, in various ways, been contributed to our psalmody.

A strong poetical bias took hold of me when I was a boy of eight years. An "Elegy on a Cat," then written, disappeared long since, as well as the cat. The first poem published was four years later; but if you do not find it among the old papers, I cannot supply it. I have never bidden farewell to the lyre, simply because it was a part of myself.

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