Page images

1825, he was appointed an Inspector of the United States Customs at Portland, and retained that office for four years—being removed, from political considerations, on the election of Andrew Jackson as President of the U. S. In 1833, he was chosen City Marshal of Portland, and for six years, with one intermission, received the re-appointment.

Throughout his public life he was characterized by prudence and discretion, and gave general satisfaction. He was a faithful servant to the public ; his endeavors always seemed to be the welfare and happiness of those around him. In public improvements he ever felt a deep interest. When the Light-Houses around Portland were built, his services and experience were greatly beneficial in selecting suitable sites and in seeing that they were properly constructed. In the construction of the Portland breakwater, his suggestions were invaluable. He is reputed to have designed the present city seal of Portland, a phænix rising from the fire, supported by two dolphins.

Capt. Preble was always temperate both in his manner of living and in his general habits. During a life protracted beyond the years allotted to man, he had never been confined to his bed from sickness three days, previous to his last illness. He himself attributed his remarkable exemption from ill health (subject as he had been, a traveller by land and sea, to the vicissitudes of climates and seasons) to an originally strong and healthy constitution, backed and supported by his temperate and regular habits. He lived to be the last surviving member of his father's family, which, in his youth, had numbered nineteen, and at the date of bis death he was the oldest native born resident of Portland.

The Marine Society, of which he had been so long an honored member, attended his funeral in a body, and preceded the hearse to the grave, wearing the usual badges of mourning for a deceased brother, and his remains were followed by a large concourse of sorrowing friends and citizens. The bells of the city were tolled, the flags of all the shipping in harbor, and the Bethel flag were displayed at half-mast, and the afternoon was observed as one of sorrow and mourning for a valued friend and citizen. All the city papers contained memorial notices, showing the esteem and respect in which he had been held.

The Portland Tribune, a literary journal, edited by D. C. Colesworthy, remarked :

The removal by death of such a man as Captain Enoch Preble, demands more than a passing notice. One who has filled so large a place in our community for nearly eighty years-a native of our citya kind friend—a generous neighbor-a useful citizen-deserves a panegyric from an abler pen than ours. But we feel that we have personally suffered a loss, as well as the community at large. We

miss the familiar countenance—the pleasant voice—the cheerful,
animated conversation. As Capt. Preble was one with us, in heart
and life, in soul and purpose-ever active to do good and communicate
to his juniors—how could we but love him ? How can we but miss
him? We moisten his memory with a tear, and by this feeble tribute
add our testimony to his worth. * * * * * *
But he has left us, and his generous deeds will not soon be forgotten.
He was an agreeable friend and a sociable companion to men of all
ages, colors and conditions. * * * * During his sickness num-
bers of the poor called to see him-or inquire for his health-manifest-
ing great solicitude for his welfare. When too exhausted to converse,
he permitted them to enter his chamber to take their last look of an
affectionate friend. Death came not to him an unwelcome guest. He
was prepared for it. He had lived to a good old age-and

• The calm of that old, reverend brow, the glow
Of its thin silver locks, was like a flash

Of sunlight in thc pauses of a storin'and he felt that it was time for him to depart. The consolations of religion supported him in the trying scene. lle had spent a long life in endeavoring to do good ; he had accomplished all in his power and was ready for the tomb. He retained his senses to the last, and died with the prospect of a blessed immortality before hiin.

“We are sad when our fathers are thus removed—when the faces with which we have been familiar from childhood are forever taken from our sight. But when a glorious name is left behind-when generous deeds shine through a long life, as incentives to our perseverance in the like path of virtue-to attain a like reward-how blessed to reflect on the end of such individuals! What consolation and support to the stricken heart! We miss our aged friend, but we mourn not his departure. IIc has won his crown-and we can truly say, in the beautiful language of Bryant

"Why mourn yo that our aged friend is deal?
Ye are not sad to see the gather'd grain;
Nor when their mellow fruit the orchards cast;
Nor when the yellow woods shake down the ripen'd mast.
Ye sigh not when the sun, his course fulfillid
His glorious course rejoicing earth and sky-
In the soft evening when the winds are still'd,
Sinks where the islands of refreshment lic,
And leaves the smile of his departure, spreid
O'er the warm color'd heaven, and ruddy molintain head.
Why wecp yc then for him, who having run
The bound of man's appointed years, at last,
Life's blessings all enjoyed, life's labors donc,
Serenely to his final rest has passed ?
While the soft mcmory of his virtues, yet
Lingers like twilight hues, when the bright sun is set.'"

The Portland Transcript, another literary paper, edited by C. P. Ilsley, contained the following notice of his death :

CAPTAIN Exoca PREBLE. In our obituary record the name of this gentleman will be found. Capt. Preble was one of our oldest and most respected citizens. During a long life-drawn out beyond the ordinary years allotted to man's existence—a life which had been subjected to many vicissitudes—he sustained a character of spotless integrity. High-minded and honorable in all his relations, he went to the grave, in the fulness of years, bearing with him the respect of all.

* * * * * * * * * * * “ Capt. Preble possessed a very observing mind, and it was no ordinary pleasure to sit and hear him relate incidents connected with his visits to far countries and the manners and customs of the different people with whom he had come in contact. With a rich store of information on almost all subjects, and with a readiness to impart from his knowledge, he proved not only an agreeable, but an instructive companion. He loved to talk of the past, as do most men who have experienced much of the vicissitudes of life. During his last sickness he reviewed all his past career-even to the scenes of his boyhood, and remarked, that it had been his endeavor through life to do all the good he could both at home and abroad, and when he had nothing else to offer he gave advice.

His disposition was very social, and he retained his interest in everything and everybody to the last. The week he died, it being mentioned that some one had inquired for and wished to see him• Tell them,' said he, “I can see my friends if they wislı, but cannot speak to them.'

“Speaking of his age not long since, he said he could not expect to last much longer-three score years and ten was the time allotted to man, and he was living on nine years borrowed time. And yet

Though old, he still retained
His manly sense, and energy of mind.
Virtuous and wisc he was, but not severe;

He still remember'd that he once was young.' Capt. Preble was the last surviving member of his family. His father, mother, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins, all had gone before him—his own children, nephews and nieces only remaining. The summons that called him hence was not an unwelcome one. He expected it, and was willing and ready to obey it. Through life he had enjoyed an extraordinary degree of health, until the last year, when he was subjected to a painful discase, which he bore with great fortitude and resignation." * * * * * * *

The Portland Advertiser, the Whig journal of the City, copied the obituary from the Trancript, and remarked, “We are under obligations to the editor of the Portland Transcript, for the feeling and elegant tribute which he has paid to our highly respected fellow citizen, lately deceased. We were intending to record a similar inemorial in our own paper, which has been delayed only from our want of acquaintance with facts which he has supplied. We have melancholy pleasure in adding our testimony to the long displayed virtues of this excellent and useful man.

The other newspapers, religious and secular, contained notices more or less full and eulogistic; and on the day of the funeral, an unknown friend-probably a political opponent-contributed to the Democratic organ, the Eastern Argus, the following beautiful tribute to his memory :

“ This day is one, to a certain extent, of mourning among the citizens of Portland. One of its oldest and most venerable inhabitants is about being consigned to his last resting place. We allude to Capt. Enoch Preble, one well known in the community generally, but more particularly among the citizens of Portland. We have remarked (and with pain) that the dead—whatever may have been their superior qualities of mind--are generally soon forgotten by the busy world; but we hope, and we speak with deep feeling, that the memory of this man may long be respected by those that shall remain upon the stage of action.

“We are one of those that love to study the man in his social walk, without reference to the public acts of his life. We are one of those who have been long acquainted with Capt. Preble. To us he has ever appeared a commanding link between by gone days and those in which we live. We happened a few days since to call upon a friend who has for a long time been secluded from the world on account of ill health; and it is rather difficult to interest him while in conversation upon any topic. We happened to mention the situation of Captain Preble, with the near prospect of his death. Our friend at once became interested, and went into numerous details of little occurrences which transpired in his more youthful and boyish days, in connection with this venerable man. We here touched upon a cord, which vibrated with a kindlier feeling towards Capt. Preble, in the breast of the invalid. He was always remarkable for his sociability with the rising generation.* Such men we love, who can step aside from the cold formality of general society, and answer the queries of the young mind even upon seemingly unimportant subjects. Nor was Capt. Preble the man who selected his youthful acquaintance from any particular grade of society. I have often found him engaged with the little ragged urchin, instructing him in the art of angling, and half an hour afterwards he was to be seen in the flower garden, pointing out the different kind of flowers to some of the accomplished young ladies of this city. His entire mind seemed ever intent upon conveying something new to those with whom he associated. Nearly a century of time has gone, since he first began the journey of life, and hence his remarkable strong memory of the occurrences of the past, connected with his sociable disposition, rendered him an entertaining and instructive companion in every department of society. We say, as we have said before, that we love such men-they are useful in their day and generation,' and well were it for society at large, that we had many such in the community. Men, even those possessing to a certain extent kindred dispositions to that of Capt. Preble, are apt to closet the treasures of their minds for the few. Age is ever respected in our communities, especially when connected with a virtuous life; and all are alike interested in the benefits to be derived from the conversation and experience of our old men. Let our venerable men come among the community that now is, and assume that exterior which they wear in the more limited walks of life-and it will tell well for our day and those that shall come. And again their memories will live in after years, when they shall be gathered to their Fathers, in the room of being flung aside by the great mass and forgotten. We feel that we do not 'speak without book,' when we say, the old men do not exert that influence which they might upon the morals of the community.

* A valued friend said to me that the last timc he remembered seeing Capt. Preble, he was putting down cockles and small shell-fish at the breakwater, which he had brought from the Portland light-house, hoping, he said, they would propagate and increase, and furnish bait for the boys and fishermen who caine after him.

“But we have already written more than we anticipated, when we sat down. Circumstances having combined to prevent us from attending Capt. Preble's funeral, we have in a hasty manner committed a few of our thoughts to your keeping, gentlemen, and is it too much to ask of you whose business in the main is politics, at times to step aside and give us through your press some of your own thoughts upon the subject upon which we have so imperfectly treated. We do not profess to be a writer upon any of the important topics which may be interesting to the public, but we would ever love to see justice done to the memories of our old men, when they are laid in their last resting places.

September 30th, 1842."

« PreviousContinue »