Page images
PDF
EPUB

freemen, so-called, of Lord Baltimore's province of Maryland. From the highest Government officer in it, who was the owner of land, down to the owner of a single acre, each one paid an annual quit-rent. None, indeed, held any land, but who paid him that rent. Save slaves and indented servants, all thus were tenants of Lord Baltimore, and he certainly showed true wisdom in doing as he now did, for the poor among them, to promote religion and industry ; it was rightly seconding Mr. Bacon's benevolent enterprise. And we are here reminded by it, that manual-labor Schools are no new thing; there being one at least in Maryland, more than one hundred years ago.

Two days after the date of the above letter, we have an extract of one also, from Bishop Wilson to Mr. Bacon, dated, London, 10th Jan., 1754. He writes :

"As for the School, you will find the noble present of 100 guingas, by Lord Baltimore, besides £20 from bimself, and £5 from his lady, and £5 from Mr. Calvert, [his private Secretary,) annually. So you see, by God's good blessing, the design flourishes, beyond what you ever thought. Go on briskly, get the house finished, and enlarge your views; fear nothing. The reason I did not print and publish tho accounts that are annexed to your Sermon, was this,-I thought they would come out with more eclat and figure, when the house was new finished, and when we could tell the world that Lord Baltimore was a patron of it. Furnish me, therefore, with everything necessary for a proper Appendix to your last Sermon. We must not multiply things of this kind, for the printing of such long accounts is very expensive, and it had better be done when the school house is near finished. In the mean time, you may publish how the design is going on, in your paper. Nothing will please me more, on this side the water. than pushing on that School, and making it a great thing. The £50 for the instruction of negroes, may certainly be laid out in the purchasing a boy and girl, who may be taught and make useful servants for the School, and it is ready for you.”

We here see, how much pleased the good Bishop was, with the plan of his pupil, and how ready he was to lend him a helping hand, and cheer him onward. The unreserved manner in which he writes to Mr. Bacon, shows how free and fond was their intercourse.

The next thing which we have to state now, is a note from Mr. Bacon, to his friend Callister, dated Talbot County, 13th May, 1755 :

[ocr errors]

“Sir, your company is requested, with the other Trustees, at the Charity School, on Saturday next, between the hours of 11 and 12, to receive the house from the builder, to agree with a master, and house-keeper, and to settle the children at their own habitation. Sir, your most obt. humble servant,

THOMAS BACON.”

This was.

The School thus, had been elsewhere, before this ; but it was not the children's own habitation."

The new house was now finished, and they were to be settled in it. It was a brick house, and is still standing. But about this time, he was called to encounter one of the severest afflictions which could well befall him. The wife of his youth, the companion of his pilgrimage, was taken away from him, by death. She, who had given up with him the home of their birth, crossed the perilous ocean, and settled in a strange land, walking hand in hand together in their journey, was now laid in the dust. Nor was this all ; in the following note to his friend, dated Easter Monday, 1756, are these words :-“I am much obliged for your kind communication of circumstances relating to the melancholy loss of my son !” “Dear little Jacky,” as he was wont to be called, was also taken from him, and under circumstances peculiarly distressing. It appears that he was lost at sea, probably on a voyage, in which he was returning to his family connections in England. The circumstances of his loss were not such but that hope remained. Mr. B., indeed, heard afterwards, that he was not lost, but was still alive; but what he heard thus, proved delusive.

After a while we find that he had married another wife, one of his own parishioners. The time intervening between the death of the one and his marriage with the other, has not been found. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Bozman, of Oxford Neck, and her name was Elizabeth. The next note which we have from him, to his friend Callister, is under date of “Dover, 17th March, 1757," and is this :

“Dear Sir :-An increase of family necessarily induces an increase of wants. I have a parcel of garden ground, but neither spade to dig it with, nor seed to sow in it. If you have got any spades, let me have one per bearer, and a few seeds out of your stock. Perhaps a cheese may be had, necessary, as you know, on certain occasions. Pray

let me have another bushel of salt, or my beef will spoil. I write to you with the freedom of a friend, as I shall always stile you, though, God knows, few are the friends I have now in the world. If you have any good news by your ship, on whose arrival I wish you joy, please let me have a sketch of it; if bad, keep it to yourself, for I have had no other for some time past, and begin to be heartily tired of it. I would not write to you on such a scrap of paper, if I had plenty, as formerly; but the man without money or credit must do as he can. Music has departed, and gone into another world, from me. The Laws are my only employment and amusement, yet they are a dry sort of stuff, and sometimes apt to stick in the throat. I have still a heart open to candor and friendship, which you will always find, when I shall at any time have the pleasure of assuring you in person, that I am, with great esteem, Dear Sir, your very affectionate, humble seryant,

THOMAS BACON. A mingling of despondency and cheerfulness, it will be seen, pervades this note, which shows that his afflictions very greatly depressed him. This new location of his, being near where the fresh water met the salt, in the constantly recurring tides, was a bilious, sickly one, as he had found to his cost. And who, that has lived in such a position, can need reminding, how dark and discouraging everything around one looks, when the physical system is deranged from such a cause. And there is little doubt that he was now suffering from this cause, as well as from his chornic complaint, the hernia, from which he never was relieved. Of his peculiar circumstances at this time, we know nothing. But with the living which he held, and the comfortable independence of his father-in-law,-being, besides, Lord Baltimore's domestic Chaplain, in Maryland, and the piety of which we have seen he gave such good proof, he could not long have continued to be cast down. But he mentions here a new employment, which he had added to his parochial work, in its different departments in which we have seen him, namely, “the Laws." This turns our attention to that great work of his, which will cause him to be remembered, as long as Laws shall continue to exist in Maryland.

The last edition of the Laws of the Province had been compiled and published in 1727, by William Parks, printer to the Province, and the then publisher of a newspaper in Annapolis,the earliest paper of which we have any knowledge printed in Maryland, -and a part of one of its volumes is preserved in VOL. XVII.

38

is gone,

the Historical Society Library. Some short time previous to Parks's publication, which was a small folio volume, yet singularly inaccurate and defective, Lord Baltimore had had an edition published in England, for the use of the Board of Commissioners of Plantations ; of this, a copy is in possession of the Rev. Dr. Hawks, of New York. But previous to this edition of Lord Baltimore's, Mr. Bacon mentions an edition of 1718, published by Andrew Bradford, in Philadelphia, and another, which was published about 1707. These were the only editions which Mr. Bacon had seen. Mr. Chief Justice Trott, of the Province of South Carolina, however, in his Preface to his “Laws of the British Plantations,” published in London, 1721, mentions an edition of the Laws of Maryland, of still older date, out of which an abridgment of the Laws of Maryland was published, in 1704. This edition, of older date, appears to be the one, a copy of which is in the possession of the Hon. J. Bozman Kerr, of Talbot. The title page but it must have been published about 1700, as no Act of the Assembly is in it, subsequent to that date.

But, subsequent to Parks's edition of 1727, for now near thirty years, the knowledge of Maryland Law could only be gained from the annual publications of the Acts of the General Assembly, issued in their pamphlet form, many of which Acts had expired by their own limitations ; many others had been repealed, many amended, while many new ones had been every year enacted. All this subjected legal decisions, very often, to much uncertainty, and the Bar to much labor and perplexity.

And another thing; the General Assembly then, so far as Law enactments were concerned, were, to the Church of England, as the Episcopal Church of the Province was then called, what our Annual Convention now is ; and consequently, as all the Laws touching the rights and the support of the Clergy, the creation of parishes, or defining the powers and duties of Vestrymen, were made by the General Assembly; and as these Laws, as well as others, were often repealed, or changed, or new ones substituted in their place, it became no less a want of the Church than of the Civil Courts, to have them in one body, and in an accessible form.

In compiling such a work, Mr. Bacon was now engaged. And, as was the case with him in other enterprises for God and for his fellow-men, so here, he engaged in the work with his whole soul, and with unwearied industry and perseverance. He began with the first legislation in the Province, in 1638, and gave the titles of every Act which had been passed, by each successive Assembly, for more than one hundred and twenty years. Those which were now in force, he inserted in full. It was not, however, to be accomplished by the labor of a few weeks ; it was the work of weary years and of intense labor.

In the year 1758, Mr. Bacon gave up the parish of St. Peter's in Talbot, which had for so long a period been the scene of his labors, and, on the death of its Rector, the Rev. Mr. Hunter, was transferred to All Saints parish, Frederick County. This parish was the best living in the Province; being held to be worth £1.000 sterling. And the giving it to him, showed something of the estimate in which he was held by Lord Baltimore's Government, who held the appointment, and by whom it was made. It certainly was no small compliment, when there such men in the Province as Cradock, Brogden, Spencer, and others.

Of Mr. Bacon's ministry in All Saints, owing to the loss of the parochial records, we have learned little. His parish, in territory and population, was indeed large, being all of what was then Frederick County, North of the big Seneca River, including what is now part of Montgomery, part of Carroll, and all of Frederick, Washington, and Alleghany Counties. The population, indeed, was mostly German ; but there were three places of Church of England Worship to be served ; the two of which most distant from each other, were near forty miles apart. But in his parish he was assisted by a curate, the Rev. George Goldie, who is said to have been very eloquent, and very acceptable to the parishioners, and lived long after him, as the Rector of King and Queen Parish, St. Mary's County.

In January of 1759, two years after the date of the note in which we found the first mention of the work he was employed

« PreviousContinue »