THE DESTRUCTION OF OLD RELICS.
MRS. Noyes, of Wickford, related to us the following facts which we think should serve to warn even the most heedless to refrain from destroying anything of an antique order in the future, and serve to remind them of the fact that even if utterly worthless to them, that there are those who would dearly prize them. Let it be a watchword in future in Narragansett not to destroy anything ancient in way of papers, books, pamphlets, or anything else until it has passed the hands of a judicious antiquarian, and has been condemned by him as worthless. In our own experience we often find things that to us are of great value, that to the former owner were utterly worthless. So, in the future, every reader and friend of this magazine will know where there is a man who would delight in having a good look at these antiquities, and will esteem it a high honor to have presented to him anything of the nature we have mentioned. We are very anxious to obtain the autograph of any Narragansett character, and any souvenir illustrating in any way a part of our history. With these remarks we proceed to relate a few facts to prove how careless people can be with old relics when they are even ignorant of their own carelessness.
Dr. James McSparran died in his chair. After his death his goods were sold at vendue, and the chair that he died in among the other effects. It was bid off by "Wickham," John Hazard. Mr. Hazard carried it home. It being a very handsome affair he placed it in his best room where it stood for a time. There is naturally a dread with some people towards a place where a person dies outside of the bed, and this chair partook of this feeling. This was far more common in the days we are treating than at present, when we often think people are too careless of these matters. The end was that this old chair went to the garret. There it could reason upon the perversity of man to its hearts content amid this museum of solitude. When the family removed to Westerly the old chair was suffered to still remain in the garret. The years fled away, and in turn came men who began to inquire into the whereabouts of the Dr.'s old friend. Rev. Mr. F. Vinton was one. He made enquiries which at first failed to prove effectual, but the Dr.'s well known determination at length roused a member of the Hazard family to go back once more to the old homestead; to revisit once more the old neglected museum, vide the garret, in order to find the old faithful friend of Dr. McSparran. The result was - someone had taken the old friend into their keeping! Who had taken it, or where it had gone remained a mystery. The regret now often expressed is that the thing was not pushed at that time to find the old friend. Whether a new search at this late day will reveal its whereabouts we know not. From her description we here rudely describe it. A very high back chair with top rolled over and ornamented; arms more or less ornamented; seat rolled under in front; fore legs in imitation of lion paws. Whether hind legs corresponded or not she did not remember. Material hard dark wood. No leather or other covering.
We should be highly flattered to receive anything relating to this venerable relic, and will consider it strictly confidential if so wished. Who can enlighten us?
The same lady gave us another fact that deeply pained us to learn. After the death of Rev. Dr. Fayerwcather, Dr. McSparran's successor, his personal effects were sold at vendue, and among others a portrait of himself in panel. Query? He had two then, as one is now known to be in existence if our memory serves us right. The portrait was bid off by Mr. Hazard for a nominal sum. Being rather awkward to carry he concluded to leave it at the Dr.'s late residence until he could carry it home conveniently. When Mr. H. went for his picture what did he find? That the children of the house had very innocently set the portrait up on one side of the room, and had, placing themselves on the other side, used it as a target, and so successfully that they had completely put out both of the Doctor's eyes, and had so far defaced it that Mr. H. declared it worthless to him, and so let destruction finish the work so happily begun.
"Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise." Another fact we learned was that there is a family now living near Curtis Corner that has two old portraits or paintings, and that one of them does duty for a small fireboard in summer. Can any of our Curtis Corner friends inform us who has these works of art? If so they can do us a great favor by writing us of the fact.
A further comment is needless. A moral is so clearly printed that no one can fail to understand it. The question is, shall this thing cease?
SOURCE: Page(s): 87-89; The Narragansett, Volume 1. October, 1882 Number 2