Passing Out Of The Shadow: 1868

Welcome to the ninth and final installment of the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes by Mrs. E. Ball Hughes.

    In the last installment, we read Eliza’s testament to Ball Hughes. 

Text of handwritten pages  45-49 with original punctuation:

45)

... About this time, he had begun burning a Pokerism for a gentleman in New York.  He had laid it aside for a couple of days but proposed finishing it. on Thursday the 5th of March 1868. he came down to breakfast having made a very careful toilet_  And as usual sat down to read in the dining room beside Mrs. Hughes.  She had been called into the next room for a few minutes and on returning found he had put down his book, and was lying on the sofa.  She took a pillow and having raised his head, ask’d him if that was not more comfortable?  He look’d up, and with a sweet smile said “More comfortable.”  Mrs. Hughes kept near the sofa, and kept her eyes fixed upon him, his were closd [sic] as if in sleep – and his breathing seem’d natural after watching him for a short time she thought he was breathing 

46)

a little hard, and passing her hand under the pillow raised him up on her arm – she spoke to him, but he did not answer – and alarm’d she called for help – and said she feared he was faint – he now breathed so gently that she could not hear him – In a few minutes Dr. Miller was beside him he had not moved, and was.

Passing out of the Shadow,
Into eternal day,
Why do we call it dying,
This sweet passing away –

Dr. Miller pronounced it heart disease, of which Mr. John Hallett Hughes his Father had died just as suddenly in 1827.

His death was a great shock to his family, and a numerous circle of friends.

His funeral took place at St. Pauls’

47)

church Boston – and was attended by a large number of his friends .
The Pall bearers were Edmund P. Tileston Peter Wainwright Thomas Groom and Mr Egan.  He now lies in Cedar Grove! under a beautiful monument erected to his memory by his Son in Law – B. F. Brown.

And methinks I hear the question ask’d “Was he rich?”  Some will wonder in reading this outline of the sculptor’s life, why with all his genius, he did not do so.
He died surrounded by those who loved him, in his daughter’s house! well named Sunnyside, for he could make any place sunny.  He did not die like John Bunyan Ben Jonson, Jeremy Taylor or Cervantes writing their immortal works in a prison or Dryden dying in a garret or. Milton the immortal Poet drudging as a humble school teacher. and let me quote from 

48)

Sir Thomas Browne.

“Since the stars of heaven do differ, in glory; since it hath pleased the Almighty hand to honor the north pole, with lights above the south; since there are some stars so bright that they can hardly be look’d upon, some so dim that they can scarcely be seen, and vast numbers not to be seen at all even by artificial eyes; read thou the earth in heaven, and things below, from above:  Look contentedly upon the scatter’d difference of things, and expect not equality in luster, dignity or perfection in regions, or persons below; where numerous numbers must stand like lacteous or nebulous stars little taken notice of, or dim in their generation, All which may be contentedly allowable in the affairs, and ends of this world, and in suspension unto what will be in the order of things hereafter, and the new system of mankind, which will be in the world to come; when the last may be the first, and the first the last, when

49)

Lazarus may sit above Caesar, and the just, obscure on earth, shall shine like the sun in heaven, when personalities shall cease, and histrionism of happiness be over when reality shall rule, and all shall be, as they shall be for ever.”
__________

I should be wanting in gratitude could I close this sketch of my dear Husband’s life, without copying an article which appear’d in the Transcript a few weeks after his death – “The late Ball Hughes.”  A valuable tribute to the memory of the late Ball Hughes has been bestow’d on his widow by a few admiring friends.  Previous to Mrs. Hughes’ departure for Conway she was waited upon at her residence in Dorchester, and was presented with government bonds to the amount of three thousand five hundred dollars.  If we may judge of the statue of Hercules by the Foot may we not form some idea of the estimation in which the genius of Mr. Hughes was held by this liberal gift to his family.
“Ingenius stat sine morte dicus”

Commentary

    We read Eliza’s touching account of Ball Hughes' final hours and his death in her arms. He continued to work at the art he loved until the end. We sense the sadness and joy that the family experienced. His funeral was attended by many friends and citizens of Boston. The pall bearers were wealthy and influential men and close friends to the family. The tribute of much-needed money was one final honor to his genius.


Notes (by journal page number)

P. 45
Robert was going to finish a Pokerism for a gentleman in New York just before his death on March 5, 1868.

We see that they liked to read together in the dining room after breakfast. Robert apparently became weak and laid down on the sofa.

P. 46
Robert died in Eliza's arms before his doctor arrived. He was 64 years old.

Dr. Erasmus D Miller ( -1881/89) was a prominent Dorchester physician and surgeon and probably a good family friend.

Robert's father, John Hallett Hughes 
(1773-1824/1827), a carriage maker, had also died suddenly.

Eliza states that his death was a great shock to his family and a
numerous circle of friends.

Eliza quotes from Christian poem and hymn, Passing Out of the Shadow:

Passing out of the Shadow,
Into eternal day,
Why do we call it dying,
This sweet passing away –

Full text:

Passing out of the shadow    
    Into a purer light; 
Stepping behind the curtain,     
    Getting a clearer sight; 

Laying aside a burden,     
    This weary mortal coil, 
Done with the world's vexations,     
    Done with its tears and toil; 

Tired of all earth's playthings,     
    Heartsick, and ready to sleep, 
Ready to bid our friends farewell,     
    Wondering why they weep; 

Passing out of the shadow    
    Into eternal day,— 
Why do we call it dying,     
    This sweet-going away?
                                
                                    Anonymous

The earliest reference to this poem that I have found is in Good Housekeeping: Volume 2, Nov. 14, 1885, to May 1, 1886, p. 275. This reinforces my belief that the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes by Mrs. E. Ball Hughes was written between 1886 and Eliza's death in 1892.

P. 47
Eliza describes how the funeral at St. Pauls (Episcopal) in Boston was attended by a large number of friends.

The pall bearers were Edmund P. Tileston, a wealthy paper manufacturer, Peter Wainwright (Jr.), a bank treasurer, Thomas Groom, of the stationary trade and a Trustee of the Dorchester Savings Bank, and James Egan, a Suffolk County lawyer. The New England Historical and Genealogical Registry, Vol. 22, 1868, pp. 200-201 records the funeral:

Hughes, Robert Ball, the sculptor, Dorchester, March 5, aged 62 years [sic].
The funeral took place on Sunday, March 10, the public services being held in St Paul's Church, Boston, at 2 P.M. Rev. Dr. Nicholson, assisted by Rev. Mr. Mills, of Dorchester, conducted the ceremony, and a large number of citizens attended. Messrs. Peter Wainwright, Thomas Groom, E. P. Tileston and James Egan were pall bearers. Previous to the ceremony at St. Paul's a service was held at the late residence of Mr. Hughes.

He now lives in Cedar Grove under a beautiful monument to his memory by his Son in law - B. F. Brown.

Eliza asks the question that she knew we would ask: "Was he rich?" She answered by saying: He died surrounded by those who loved him, in his daughter's house!well named Sunnyside, for he could make any place sunny. Yes he was rich, but not with the riches of this world. He was rich with the love of his family and friends (DB).

PP. 48-49
Eliza quotes Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) from Christian Morals.

Eliza: “Since the stars of heaven do differ, in glory; since it hath pleased the Almighty hand to honor the north pole, with lights above the south; since there are some stars so bright that they can hardly be look’d upon, some so dim that they can scarcely be seen, and vast numbers not to be seen at all even by artificial eyes; read thou the earth in heaven, and things below, from above:  Look contentedly upon the scatter’d difference of things, and expect not equality in luster, dignity or perfection in regions, or persons below; where numerous numbers must stand like lacteous or nebulous stars little taken notice of, or dim in their generation, All which may be contentedly allowable in the affairs, and ends of this world, and in suspension unto what will be in the order of things hereafter, and the new system of mankind, which will be in the world to come; when the last may be the first, and the first the last, when Lazarus may sit above Caesar, and the just, obscure on earth, shall shine like the sun in heaven, when personalities shall cease, and histrionism of happiness be over when reality shall rule, and all shall be, as they shall be for ever.

Browne: “Sect. xxiv.—Since the stars of heaven do differ in glory; since it hath pleased the Almighty hand to honour the north pole with lights above the south; since there are some stars so bright that they can hardly be looked on, some so dim that they can scarce be seen, and vast numbers not to be seen at all, even by artificial eyes; read thou the earth in heaven, and things below from above. Look contentedly upon the scattered difference of things, and expect not equality in lustre, dignity, or perfection, in regions or persons below; where numerous numbers must be content to stand like lacteous or nebulous stars, little taken notice of, or dim in their generations. All which may be contentedly allowable in the affairs and ends of this world, and in suspension unto what will be in the order of things hereafter, and the new system of mankind which will be in the world to come; when the last may be the first, and the first the last; when Lazarus may sit above Caesar, and the just obscure on earth shall shine like the sun in heaven; when personations shall cease, and histrionism of happiness be over; when reality shall rule, and all shall be as they shall be for ever.

From Wikipedia: Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric.

His Christian Morals has been reprinted in many compilations including Sir Thomas Browne’s Works, Vol. IV, edited by Simon Wilks F.L.S., London: William Pickering, 1835. The quote is from
p. 110.

P. 49
Eliza acknowledges that she is the author of the sketch of her dear husband's life. She ends with the much-needed financial tribute to the memory of the late Ball Hughes that was given to her by a few admiring friends.

According to the newspaper article, she apparently left for Conway (or North Conway) in New Hampshire after the funeral. In the 1860's, the Ball Hugheses vacationed in New Hampshire, where Ball Hughes had a rustic studio near the Willey House.

Eliza's last words are the Latin quote:
 Ingenio stat sine morte decus by Propertius (Sextus Aurelius Propertius, ca. 50–15 BCEwhich means the beauty of his genius stands immortal or the honor accorded to genius is immortal.

 
last update 5/31/2012
 
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