Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 208

Price Realized: $ 8,125
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(MASSACHUSETTS.) Papers of the Unitarian minister Orville Dewey, including his diary and correspondence with William Cullen Bryant. Approximately 170 items plus a folder of news clippings (0.3 linear feet) in one box; condition generally strong. Various places, 1776-1882

Additional Details

Orville Dewey (1794-1882) was raised in Sheffield, MA, and graduated from Williams College and Andover Theological Seminary. He served as the assistant to the Rev. William Ellery Channing in Boston through 1823, then served as a Unitarian minister in New Bedford, MA; New York City; Boston; and elsewhere, becoming nationally known as a theologian and lecturer. He retired to Sheffield in 1858. Dewey Hall stands in his honor in Sheffield to this day.

This lot contains 121 of Dewey's Autograph Letters Signed to various parties, mostly to his daughters, and his well-known friends the poet William Cullen Bryant (12 letters dated 1850-1877) and the Rev. Henry Bellows, founder of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War (94 letters dated 1860-1882). A 6 August 1874 letter pokes gentle fun at Bryant's popular coffee-table book Picturesque America. Some of Dewey's letters to Bellows discuss Sanitary Commission matters and the Civil War--recommending a nurse, defending Lincoln's record, etc. The letters were apparently gathered by Dewey's daughter Mary Elizabeth Dewey (1821-1910) a noted author and translator in her own right, who edited and published "Autobiography and Letters of Orville Dewey" in 1883. A few of the letters offered here are published in the book.

Also included are 6 Autograph Letters Signed from William Cullen Bryant to Dewey, dated 1850 to 1874. On 20 August 1874 Bryant halfheartedly defends Picturesque America: "I edited the work, it is true. Somebody must edit such a publication, and I do not see why I should not do it as well as another. . . . I do not remember that I was ever more weary of any literary task; for the mere description of places is the most tedious of all reading." In addition to the correspondence, this lot includes:

Dewey's 26-page manuscript "Oration Delivered on the 4th of July 1811 on the 35th Year of American Independence," which he later noted was "written & delivered in the Church at a boy's celebration when I was 17."

Dewey's diary, which he had titled "Memoranda," containing intermittent entries from 1 January 1865 to 16 August 1880, with [105] manuscript diary pages, in the original 8vo gilt calf binding. On 10 April 1865 he describes the festivities in Sheffield for the surrender at Appomattox. Several pages are devoted to the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath. He records several visits from William Cullen Bryant. On 23 October 1869 he notes with some surprise: "A school-teachers' convention here, about 60 teachers of common schools mainly composed it, & all young women! The function seems to have gone into their hands. I suppose it is because they can be hired for less." On 20 October 1870 he notes an earthquake, and describes a similar one he experienced in Sheffield "about 58 or 59 years ago."

Family history scrapbook containing 43 items, mostly family deeds 1776-1848, but also an 1834 note on the history of the "Dewi" family; his father Silas Dewey's 1804 militia discharge; a certificate of Dewey's admission as a member of "the Church of Christ in Federal Street, in the pastoral charge of the Rev. William E. Channing D.D.," Boston, 1823; two pencil sketches of "the old family house in Sheffield"; a pencil sketch of the house in New Bedford built by Dewey in 1830; and a Dewey sermon on "The Character and Claims of Sea-Faring Men" as published in The Friend, Honolulu, 1 September 1845.

An 1896 ink and wash drawing of Dewey's home "St. David's" in Sheffield, 9 x 11 1/2 inches.

Two printed pamphlets by Dewey: "An Address, Delivered under the Old Elm Tree in Sheffield" (his important antislavery address), stitched, stained, 1856; and "American Morals and Manners," disbound, 1844.

The copyright certificate for his "Discourses on Various Subjects," 1835.

A list of marriages he solemnized in New Bedford, MA, on 7 slips of paper, which he "cut out from a small waste-book," 1826-1833.

A folder of newspaper and magazine clippings relating to his career and death.