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MEMORIES OF THE LIFE
CALVIN SEARS HARRINGTON, D.D.
PARENTAGE.-CHILDHOOD. — NATURAL DISPOSITION.—EARLY HOME.-SCHOOL-LIFE. - DESIRE FOR EDUCATION.
N the little village of East St. Johnsbury, Vt., close by
stood the brown cottage that on May 17, 1826, became the birthplace of Calvin Sears Harrington.
His mother was an invalid, of whom his only memories were of her crossing her room with feeble steps to minister to his childish wants, and sitting by her knee while she taught him with her musical voice the songs of the Church. When he was six years old, she went away to the home of the blessed.
His father was a stern, conscientious, upright man, whose love for his children was manifested in a care for their best welfare, rather than in a weak yielding to their own desires. When Calvin was four years old, his father took him to St. Johnsbury Plain, four miles from home, to a kindergarten that had been opened there. While the little fellow was busy with blocks and pictures, the parent left, and no cries availed to call him back. Calvin was
boarded in a house close by, where, too small to sit with the family at table, he took his daily meals on a little tin plate at the fireside. Thus he spent his first term at boarding-school.
When a little older, his father, with great care, made him a fine cart, designed to content him in sport about home. For a while the new treasure was highly appreciated; but one day a playmate displayed the treasures of his pockets. "Boston crackers" were a greater rarity then than now, and a pocket-full of these, a nice ball of string, and some other valuable boyish traps, proved too strong a temptation; and the cart was traded off for the crackers and string. When, a few hours later, the boy offered to trade back, Calvin's father said, "No! Didn't you make a fair trade? Haven't you eaten up the crackers? You cannot have your cart again it belongs to Ellery now, and I shall not make you another." The large-hearted "Ellery now the Hon. E. L. Hibbard of Laconia, N.H. urged the return; but the inflexible parent would by no means allow his boy to lose this opportunity to learn that a promise once made was binding, and no reason was sufficient to induce one to break his word.
Calvin had an older brother and sister. When he was seven years of age, a new mother came to his home, bringing with her three daughters and a son. The son being about the age of the older brother, they soon began to affiliate, and the bevy of four girls found plenty in common to unite them; so the little boy of seven was left quite by himself. These circumstances developed in him a tendency to melancholy and moroseness, which so manifested itself upon his face, and perhaps in his words
and acts, that a little girl, visiting in the family one day, declared innocently to the crowd, "That boy has got the ugly." It may well be imagined that the merriment occasioned thus at his expense did not tend to sweeten his temper. And in later years, when he was sometimes told that his disposition was naturally amiable, and he did not have to strive so hard as many others to overcome evil tempers, he would declare that naturally no one had "the ugly" more surely than himself, and none but himself knew how constant and severe was the battle with the Tempter, or how wonderful the grace of God that enabled him to triumph. Constitutionally he was a man of anxious care, and one must watch him through years of experience to discern that it was the indwelling Christ that kept his life calm and peaceful. He often said, "The Christian course is a warfare, and must always be, however great the grace given to aid in the fight against evil.”
The same thought is frequently expressed in his diary, as: "The conflict of the world and the flesh and the Devil against God and the soul is a terrible one. If man were any thing less than he is, he would be torn piecemeal, and the object of contention would perish in the strife. But oh, how sin takes him into the ranks of evil when he consents!— and God becomes his bulwark when he flies there for refuge."
Christ is our
Another date has: "Battle! Battle! Leader. Foes are within and around me. I can be more than conqueror. Oh for a humble trust in my Saviour, for a meek and lowly mind, for a patient and quiet spirit! O Lord, sanctify thy servant. Give me a holy heart.
"Fight, fight, fight! I am tired of it. It is of no use to quarrel with the decrees of law, wherever they originate. Submit is the word. Man is a living interrogation-point, and very crooked he is."
Father Harrington's cottage-home stood at the base of one of the greenest of Vermont hills; and his farm stretching back behind it showed on the lowlands well-cultivated gardens and fields, where digging and sowing and raking and hoeing furnished plenty of opportunity to teach a boy that labor was both necessary and honorable. Wide pastures farther up the ascent gave room for berrypicking and cattle-driving, and the heavy woodland at the top furnished chopping and sledding for winter's occupation. The beautiful grove of maples, called “First Woods," half-way up the hill, was attractive for its icecold spring, that furnished the house below with water, and was the rallying-place for the whole herd of cattle as they came each night in procession down the well-beaten path. In the season for farm-work this Vermont boy was never unoccupied, except when on some rare occasion, having persuaded his father to give him a "stint," he had with youthful zeal accomplished two hours work in one, and so saved the afternoon for fishing, gaming, or other of the myriad boy-sports from which labor had by no means taken his relish.
But there would sometimes come an end to the rush of farm-work. Father Harrington had provided for all such emergencies. Beside the stream in front of the house stood a tannery and a small shoe-manufactory; and over the dashing current an old bark-mill hung, where hours otherwise unoccupied were spent in grinding bark. This was a work Calvin especially hated, as the dust filled his
nose and throat, while the din of the machinery, as the old mill creaked and groaned at its labor, was any thing but pleasing. Still hour after hour, keeping the hopper filled to its utmost, he contented himself by leaning from the window over the falling water, and raising his voice to its highest pitch, vying with the sounds about him, as he sang all the songs of his boy-programme, including many of the hymns of the hymn-book.
The evenings were mainly spent in reading, the facilities for which he used every means to gain. The old family library was culled over and over, and all the variety from Arabian tales, and Robinson Crusoe, to Rollin's Ancient History, and John Bunyan's dream, were eagerly devoured. By some boy-trade he became possessed of his first appreciable sum of money. Richer than Rothschild in feeling, he walked the next leisure afternoon four miles to the nearest book-store, and invested this fortune in three volumes of the British poets, - Pollok's "Course of Time," Milton's "Paradise Lost," and Young's "Night Thoughts," which furnished the following winter evenings' delightful occupation, and, carefully treasured, became the nucleus of his future library.
A few weeks of district school each summer, and a long term in winter, he enjoyed with ever-increasing zest. At the age of thirteen, he spent his first term at old Newbury Seminary. Two of the girls of his home "boarded themselves" there, and a boy was a convenient member of such a family. Frequently in autumn he attended a term of select school in his native village. So, little by little, he was laying a foundation for an education that from his early childhood he had earnestly coveted. But he began to grow impatient at the long delay, as the