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the business of publishing books or newspapers. commercial depression. His plans for the exFrom his youth he had had the strongest faith tension of the sale of the magazines were bold in the power and value of the printed word; he and enterprising; his ambition was to make recognized in it the principal agency by which them as good as they could be made, and he public opinion is generated and guided; and grudged no outlay for this purpose; his conthe wish to do something for the improvement fident expectation was that the best thing of society by this agency had long been cher- would turn out to be the most profitable. His ished. During this European tour he fell in residence in the West had given him large ideas with Dr. Holland, whom he had slightly known respecting the publisher's field: he thought that as a lecturer in the West, and whose ethical the West and the South as well as the North quality of mind had a strong attraction for him. and the East were cardinal points in the pubSeveral months of companionship in travel lisher's compass. When the magazines had npened their acquaintance into intimacy. Dr. won their footing on this continent he boldly Holland had just sold his interest in the “Spring- carried them to England; what was good field Republican." His very successful “ Life enough for Americans was good enough for of Lincoln” and his other books had brought Englishmen. This was the first invasion of him a good fortune, and he, too, was looking the British market by the American periodical. out for some opportunity to invest his gains, The large success of the undertaking opened both of capital and of experience, in the ser- the way for other publications; and Amervice of popular education. I have often heard ican magazines, now on sale on every bookboth Dr. Holland and Roswell Smith allude stand, have exerted an important influence to the memorable night when, standing upon upon English opinion concerning America. one of the bridges that span the rushing Rhone The quality of his mind is illustrated by the at Geneva, Dr. Holland outlined to his friend project of “ The Century Dictionary.” This a project, which he had been maturing, of a was purely his own. The scheme of owning monthly magazine devoted to American let- and publishing a great dictionary of the Engters and American art. The emphasis rested lish language laid hold upon him many years upon the adjective: the work was to be done ago. “It is an open question with us”. in America, by Americans, for Americans ; it he wrote eleven years ago—“whether it is best was to be a popular educator of the highest for us to buy one of the leading dictionaries grade. Roswell Smith promptly seized upon and build on that, or to organize the scholarthe project. The two friends soon returned ship of the English-speaking world and make to America, and in connection with the firm a new one. There must be one English lanof Charles Scribner and Company, who were guage, and a common standard of the EngDr. Holland's own publishers, they founded lish tongue.” He saw no reason why this the corporation which now bears the name of should not be published in New York. The The Century Co., and began the publication purchase of the right to revise and republish of this magazine. At a later date the “St. “The Imperial Dictionary" in America laid the
” Nicholas Magazine for Young Folks,” which foundation of this enterprise. It was thought originated in a suggestion by Roswell Smith, at the outset that a “slight revision” would was added by the purchase and consolidation fit the four volumes of the “Imperial” for the of several lesser periodicals, and the editorial market; but the scope of the work at once care of it was committed to the competent began to broaden; and before anything had hands of Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge. The been realized from the sale of the dictionary, changes through which this organization has nearly fifty times as much money was expended passed have been made known to the public, as had been provided for in the original estiand most of these facts concerning the origin mate. In all this his courage never faltered. of the enterprise are familiar to many; but it The ambition to “make it what it ought to seems fitting that some permanent record of be” was far stronger than any financial conthe part taken by Roswell Smith in its foun- sideration. His satisfaction in the perfection dation should appear upon the pages of The of the work, his sense of its value to the world, CENTURY MAGAZINE.
were to him a great reward. It was precisely In seeking to gather up for grateful recog- in such concerns as this that the peculiarity nition some of the finer qualities of Roswell of his mind appeared. The importance of a Sinith, my thought first rests upon a certain work like the making of a great dictionary largeness of conception which characterized was obvious to him. He could see its relations all his undertakings. He liked to do great to all science, to the spread of accurate knowthings; he had the courage that is not appalled ledge in the world. He knew that language by difficulties, and the faith that removes is the instrument of thought, the medium of mountains. The “St. Nicholas Magazine” was communication, the vehicle of truth; that started in the very moment of wide-spread whatever makes it more precise, more lumi** zen. callings, are indebted to him for many quick
groed ening hints. His vital mind tended to fructify Sweave every theme that it touched. In my work as 4. * much a pastor he has often given me useful sugges
Y as tions, and the most popular contribution that *naved it has been my fortune to make to THE CEN
op of the TURY,“The Christian League of Connecticut," me and sprang from a request made by him. “I want
tercal re- you,” he said,“ to write a kind of a story showRas of the ing how the Christian people of some town got
bav, and together and learned how to coöperate in ChrisDe and for tian work." The elaboration of the idea was
, certainly my own, but the idea was his, and justice to *** man the him requires this acknowledgment. Siements To this magazine Mr. Smith's only literary
And contribution was a brief poem, published in one linguistic of the early numbers; but he found pleasure, as erere mighest did many of his young readers, in two short wege may stories which he wrote for “St. Nicholas.”
as and Mr. Roswell Smith was deeply interested in & Ingritest all the current movements of politics and re
mbi ligion. The failure of the Independents in 1884 Kred to to organize a new party he greatly deplored;
****prises in it seemed to him that the time was ripe for a impor- new grouping of the political elements. The et in the attempt to keep the fires of sectional hatred
The burning was utterly distasteful to him; he
proposal strongly desired that the North and the South eta Ameri- should come to a better understanding. The ani NasionPres- series of papers on “ The Great South,” pubto do sorted lished in the magazine under its old name, was
nerality suggested by Roswell Smith to Dr. Holland, Peually and it aided, no doubt, in bringing about a
better state of feeling. Yet this wish for more dan mesrative amicable relations between the two sections
As made was not due to any lack of interest in the welmis in the fare of the Southern negroes, as his work for Itine by the Berea College amply testifies. This institution,
robintage on the borders of the mountain district of Kenet muls tucky, in which both sexes and both races are
en by educated together, was one of the special obminate of jects of his care; the broad humanity of its is to the foundation, and the directness of its ministry *** in to the neediest human beings, commended it esim- to his sympathy, inite
Roswell Smith's interest in religion was AY both deep and abiding. His faith was as simple and
has unquestioning as that of Faraday; his appeal Griserable to divine guidance in every matter of impor
tance was as natural and habitual as that of i large General Gordon. The direct intervention of rit, i was er: the divine power in human affairs was to him a mining with living reality. The institutions of religion were het westions his special care. Though of Congregational This isiness. origin, he was for the greater part of his
when they life a member of the Presbyterian Church, il portaithe fact and the Memorial Church of that denomination
seves nature in New York (now the Madison · Avenue Tin Nicas; under church) owes much to his brave financial leadinimic; he ex- ership. He was not, however, the kind of man
Menores, in all whom any sect can monopolize: for many years
he was the President of the New York Con- tion of a popular edition of the Bible. He progregational Club, and he worshiped during the posed to follow mainly the suggestions of the last years of his life with one of the Reformed American revisers; perhaps also to make such churches. The wish for a closer and more prac- judicious selection of Biblical material as would tical unity among the churches, which found better fit the Sacred Scriptures to be read expression in the suggestion about the Christian through in families. No man had a deeper League, was always in his heart. He was a reverence for the Holy Book; but he was of vice-president, I think, of the American Con- the opinion that its value for popular use might gress of Churches, which undertook to do some- be increased by a careful collection of its more thing for Christian union in this country; and, nutritious parts. I sought to dissuade him from as an officer of the American Tract Society, he the enterprise, which he was in no condition strove to rejuvenate the life and enlarge the of health to undertake; but the bent of his function of that venerable institution. One mind appears in the proposition. of the books published by The Century Co., It is not, however, in these specific plans " Parish Problems,” revealed Roswell Smith's that his religious purpose was realized so much desire “ to do something to help the minister.” as in his deeper intention to make all his work His motive in undertaking the publication was as a publisher serviceable to that kingdom for to make a book in which the people could be whose coming he prayed. He desired that the shown how to cooperate in the work of the two magazines, especially, should be powerful local church. He wished thus to say to the instruments of righteousness. That the tone of members of the church many things which they them should always be elevated; that nothing greatly need to hear and which the minister impure or unworthy should be allowed to apcannot say; it was to be a treatise in parish pear in them; that they should never be pertheology, to offset the instruction in pastoral mitted to assail or undermine genuine faith or theology which the minister receives in the pure morality; that they should pour into the seminary. This desire to serve the churches community a constant stream of refining influfound expression in a movement, to which he ence,- this was his central purpose, his lofty lent his influence and his personal coöperation, ambition. The efforts of his editors in this dito lift the load from churches which were rection he always heartily supported. I know burdened by debt. Roswell Smith entered well, from many conversations with him, how upon this work with enthusiasm, and had the deep and serious was this desire. I should do satisfaction of seeing a number of churches set my friend a great disservice if I tried to confree from their encumbrances.
vey the impression that he was not a keen, It is not to be supposed that this great pub- far-sighted business man; but I believe that lisher was beyond the influence of the motives he was something more than this, and that all which usually control men of business. He his thoughts about business were affected and, wanted to succeed in his business. To the ex- to some good degree, shaped by the wish and pectation of wealth his mind was not inhospi- the hope to do something for the improvement iable; but he meant to conduct his business in of the world in which he lived. He meant to an honorable way, and, more than this, he was be, and he believed himself to be, a co-worker glad to make it tributary to higher interests. with God. The issues of the presses that he had If he could see that given venture was likely set in motion were spreading light and beauty, to aid the churches, this fact added greatly to truth and love, among men; they were helping its attractiveness. The publication of hymn to make the world better every day. He knew and service books, in which he has been a it, and gloried in it. With all the personal leader, was not wholly a matter of business satisfaction which he derived from the success with him; the purification and elevation of the of his business ventures was mingled the deeper psalmody of church and Sunday-school enlisted feeling of thankfulness for the privilege of his enthusiasm. In the last serious conversa- serving the higher interests of his fellow-men. tion which I had with him, he opened to me Roswell Smith was not a flawless charactera great scheme with which his mind was labor- not many such long remain upon the earth; ing — to organize the best Biblical scholarship but the works that follow him bear witness of of this country for the translation and publica large thoughts, noble aims, and fruitful labors.
THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY. ROSWELL Smith, from early manhood a when his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robinson, became life-member of the American Tract Society, editor of its “ Illustrated Christian Weekly," was quickened to a new interest in its affairs which interest culminated at the annual meeting of 1886, when on his motion a committee to him to put his hand to the execution of the was appointed “to inquire into the practical plans which he had desired and the society had workings of the society, and to recommend adopted, came to him as a providential call to such changes in its constitution, methods, and service and, if need be, to sacrifice; and thencemanagement as may seem desirable.” Declin- forth, whatever were the enactments of his own ing to become the chairman, he accepted the extensive business, his life was freely given to position of secretary of the committee. The the interests of the society. His practical knowresolution directed the committee “to make a ledge of the publishing business, fertility of sugthorough examination of all the affairs and busi gestion, sound judgment, and large acquainness of the society,” and as executive secretary tance with and love for missionary effort made the burden of the duty and responsibility fell him a most helpful member of the committee. upon him, though the whole was shared by his He was a truly catholic Christian. One of associates, the Hon. Nathaniel Shipman (chair- his cherished purposes, to which he gave much man), General Wager Swayne, the Rev. Talbot thought and personal work, was a plan for close W. Chambers, D. D., Chancellor M'Cracken, coöperation, or even a union on some general the Hon. James White, and Mr. Robert Colby. basis, between all the great American unde
Their report was thorough and comprehen- nominational publishing societies. But serious sive. It introduced vital changes in the con- illness overtook him, and of necessity he was stitution and methods of the society. Though constrained to remove his hand from what not inerrant, after consideration and full dis- he hoped would be the means of furthering cussion in two public meetings, it was in the and demonstrating the unity of all evangelical end adopted June 1, 1887, with few if any dis- Christians. senting voices. The five subsequent years of As weariness and weakness in the past two practical working have attested in the main years stealthily crept over him, from time to the wisdom of the changes then made. At time he recalled with peculiar delight his asthe annual meeting of the same year Roswell sociation with the men whom he esteemed and Smith was elected a member of the Finance loved as members of the committee, and his and Executive committees, in which he con- satisfaction in the retrospect of his work in continued by succeeding elections until his decease. nection with the society. It is almost needless
His peculiar gifts as a publisher, which to add that this view is most cordially recipplaced him easily in the front rank of the men rocated by the officers and members of the in that sphere, added to his desire to make American Tract Society, to which his decease the most of his life for the Lord, and for his is an irreparable loss. fellow-men for Christ's sake, were the prime elements in the quickening which occurred
G. L. Shearer, about 1887. The opportunity now brought Financial Secretary of the American Tract Society.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CLUB. For six years Roswell Smith was the hon-curing speakers. From the beginning of his ored President of the Congregational Club of administration to its end the Congregational New York and vicinity. For most of that time Club offered the best program of any club he was a member of the Memorial Presbyterian in New York whose primary object was the Church, but his membership in that church discussion of topics of current interest. The was determined by his personal relations with platform was always free; speakers were enits pastor, the Rev. Charles S. Robinson, D. D. couraged to give their honest thought, and His sympathies were heartily with the Con- were not asked whether it coincided with the gregational churches, and his gifts for bene- views of the President or membership. One volent work chiefly through their missionary subject in particular had an especial interest boards. Soon after the organization of the club for our President. Some time before his eleche was elected to its membership, and in 1883 tion the following question had been discussed, was chosen President. The outlook of the club “ Is it possible to do business on Christian at that time was not promising. No perma- principles ?” A very prominent banker, who nent and desirable place for its meetings had was also a prominent church member, mainbeen found, and that, with other facts, had dis- tained that Christian principles were one thing couraged many of its members. When Mr. and business principles another. I have never Roswell Smith assumed its presidency a new seen Mr. Roswell Smith more indignant than and brighter era began. He brought to the when referring to that discussion, and he was office large practical wisdom. wide knowledge not satisfied until it had been considered again of men, and exceptional opportunities for se- and he had borne emphatic testimony to his faith that the only way in which business can able evidence that while it honored itself by be conducted with prospect of permanent suc- choosing him as its President, it always had a cess is by a strict adherence to the teachings large place in his heart. In 1889 failing health of Christ.
compelled him to decline reëlection to the office, The publisher of THE CENTURY, of course, and while he has seldom been seen at the club had unequaled facilities for securing the par- since that time, his name has often been menticipation of eminent authors and public speak- tioned with sincere and reverent regard; and ers in the discussions of the club, and few, if in no organization of which he was a member any, persons whose names were prominent in will bis memory be more fondly cherished and the pages of THE CENTURY during his presi- his loss more deeply mourned. In all the years dency of the club failed, at some time, to ap- of his connection with the Congregational Club, pear at its meetings. In his intercourse with during most of which he was its President, its its members Mr. Roswell Smith was always members will recall not a single act or word the urbane Christian gentleman; in his confer- that was not courteous and Christian, and its ences with its officers he was always courteous present conspicuous success is universally reand considerate. We felt that he gave to us garded as very largely due to his wisdom and his best thought, and the club had unquestion- devotion to its interests.
ARCHITECTS' DESIGN FOR LINCOLN HALL, BY BABB, COOK AND Mr. Roswell Smith's first gift, one thou- When the building was nearly completed sand dollars, was sent through the American we asked him to christen it. He wrote to call Missionary Association in 1884 for our current it " Lincoln Hall,” in memory of the poor white expenses. In June of the following year he, boy of Kentucky who had won the hearts of with George W. Cable, attended our com- his countrymen and the highest honors they mencement. He saw our urgent need of a could give. suitable building for class-rooms, library, etc., After we had been in the building a few and remarked that we should begin making months, the following letter was received: bricks. One of our workers mentioned the difficulty of making bricks without straw. Mr.
“NEW YORK, Nov. 24, '87. Roswell Smith at once replied, "Put me down
“MY DEAR MR. DODGE: I am glad to know for five thousand for straw.” We began making that the building - Lincoln Hall — meets your bricks that summer , and in the end he put picture of it in my office, and it certainly gives
needs and gives you so much pleasure. I have a twenty-five thousand dollars into a new building for us. One of the most characteristic let- which I am trying so hard to get into, and can't
. me more pleasure at present than my new house, ters from the large correspondence had during “I have written to Mr. Hartley about the basthe progress of the building was written Jan- relief of Lincoln, and shall doubtless be able to uary 7, 1887, in which he says: “I hope the advise you in that matter within a few days. college will get on without calling on me for
“I am very sincerely yours, more money, but I shall be ready to respond
“ROSWELL SMITH. to calls as fast as may be necessary to keep the work in progress, and I wish you to call on me Mr. Roswell Smith wished a bas-relief of freely for that end."
Lincoln to be placed in the vestibule of Lin