JEROME VAN CROWNINSHIELD SMITH 1800-1878
Deputy Grand Master, 1860
From Proceedings, Page 1879-67:
"The committee on the death of R.W. Jerome V. C. Smith ask leave to report. In the feeling of kindness and sympathy found in the bosom of sanctified affliction, our Fraternity are ever ready to render the last honors to their dead ; and as on the bier of a deceased Brother they drop the emblem that reminds us of the immortality of the soul, they seek to comfort others with the same consolations with which they themselves have been comforted of God. In the fulness of years and honors our R.W. Bro. Smith departed this life at Richmond, Mass., on Wednesday, August 20th, last. He was born at Conway, N.H., in the year 1800, being at the time of his death in the eightieth year of his age. He entered Brown University, but was graduated from Williams College in 1822. He afterward received the honorary degree of M.D. from Brown University. His professional instruction was received in this city, and for many years, being about the same age, he was professionally the friend and associate of our late Brothers Winslow Lewis, John Flint, and others.
"For nearly a quarter of a century he was Port Physician of Boston, having charge of Rainsford Island Hospital, and to him have our authorities rendered the praise, so well-deserved, of having inaugurated more liberal arrangements and better facilities of every kind to alleviate the pains and lessen the dangers of the most loathsome disease to which mortal flesh is heir; for to him we are indebted for the entire revolution which has been brought about in its treatment. The improvements instituted by him will grow strong by age, and many a poor sufferer, like the writer of these memoirs, will long revere his memory and call him blessed. The many living witnesses who owe to his skill and culture the lives they enjoy in their rescue from the most terrible of all diseases, will bear their testimony that the good which an able and skilled physician is able to accomplish in half a century of practice can never be over-estimated. The literary ability of our late Brother was frequently evinced in the authorship of many valuable medical treatises, and after his return from the Holy Land he published his Travels in Palestine. His lectures delivered before the Masons of Boston, on the scenes around Jerusalem; the stones which he brought and exhibited from the Temple of Solomon, and the minute description which he gave of the quarries from which they were raised, will long be remembered by those whose privilege it was to listen to him.
"In 1854 he was elected Mayor of Boston, and held the office for two years; but was more at home in his literary and professional character than in that of a politician. Since 1860 he has resided in New York, and being so little among us, few of the Masons of this day know much of him from personal acquaintance. In the late war he was active in the Sanitary Department, and was appointed Inspector General to consider the sanitary condition of the city of New Orleans. Dr. J. V. C. Smith was a man of great energy and persistency of character; he was called to fill many places of trust and responsibility, and in them all was characterized by the most faithful devotion to the best interests of those who placed him in them, his highest wish being to perform faithfully and well his whole duty as a citizen of this great American Republic.
"R.W. Bro. J. V. C. Smith has held various responsible offices in this Grand Lodge, and was a permanent member of it for many years; he was appointed by M.W.G. Master Randall, in 1851-2-3, D.D.G. Master of the First Masonic District, and by M.W.G. Master Lewis, Deputy Grand Master, Dec. 27, 1859. He was buried on the 22d of August last, at Pittsfield, where repose the remains of his wife. He has left an only son to mourn his loss and to reverence his memory. Thus has ended a useful life, filled with kindness and helpfulness to his fellow-men, and the conscientious performance of duty to God, his neighbor, and himself. He has joined the goodly company of our sainted Brethren, with whom he spent so many happy years, professionally and Masonically, to be no more separated from them forever. In the beautiful language of R.W. Bro. Cheever, on a late occasion, but equally applicable here, — Doubt not, my Brethren, that in ampler ethers, on higher planes of activity, in wider spheres of brotherhood, his life is warmed by the breath of the Divine Spirit, to which he has returned, and brightened in the glow of the eternal love.
"Weep not then for him who, having won
The bound of our appointed years, at last,
Life's blessings all enjoyed, life's labors done,
Serenely to his final rest has passed;
While the soft memory of his virtues yet
Lingers, like twilight dews when the bright sun is set."
"Therefore Resolved, That in the death of one of our permanent members, R.W. Bro. Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith, this Grand Lodge has sustained the loss of a Brother who has filled many of its most important offices with zeal and fidelity, and whose example of devotion and brotherly sj'mpathy will have an enduring place in our hearts and memory.
"Resolved, That this tribute of affectionate remembrance be entered at length on the Records of the Grand Lodge, and a copy of these proceedings, when printed, be forwarded to his son, Dr. Edward Smith, of New York City."
PILGRIMAGE TO PALESTINE
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XII, No. 7, May 1853, p. 217; written for the Magazine:
There are three classes of men, to whom the land of Palestine must ever teem with thoughts of a lofty kind, and associations of surpassing interest—the poor Hebrew, a proverb and a man of sorrow in all countries—the Christian, on whose soul the sojournings of our Saviour on earth are deeply engraved— and the Mason, who remembers, that amidst the scenes of Judea he was first taught the mysteries of the Order. Therefore, every well written account of this singular country, once so renowned, becomes more and more alluring. Such works give form and coloring to localities, endeared to us from childhood, in Scripture reading. We then feel as though we, too, had been there, gone up to Jerusalem and wept over the Holy Sepulchre. Each mountain and valley and stream and lake becomes familiar to our household thoughts; and when, by a faithful description of the tourist, the various scenes of sacred history are thus pictured on the mind, we realize the force and inimitable beauty of the inspired writers. The Bible ceases to be a mere book of abstractions—which is too apt to be the case before the spiritual eye discerns the truth—and it then opens up a grand objective vision of reality—a panorama of splendid events moving down the stream of time—a succession of dissolving views, touched with the lights and shadows of the spirit-world. So Shakspeare seemed to think when he said
"Over whose acres walked those blessed feet,
Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed
For our advantage to the bitter cross."
How enchanting are such writings to the Mason, who calls to mind the cedars of Lebanon, the quarries of Zeredathah, the seaport of Joppa, and the gorgeous temple on Mount Moriah, with its courts, and pillars and beautiful chambers, adorned with symbols and mysteries.
Every mountain, hill and valley in Judea is full of imagery, and marked by Historic vestiges to him who muses on the scenery of that hallowed country. From the Mount of Olives, he looks down on the capitol of Palestine, and the mountains round about Jerusalem, while at a, distance are seen the gloomy, sluggish waters of the lonely Dead Sea. On the heights of Carmel, a wide and boundless view of the Mediterranean, the walls of Acre and a long desolate shore, is spread out before him. And on the top of Tabor, memorable for the transfiguration, a most sublime landscape in every direction allures the eye. It is said by all oriental travellers to be one ot the most impressive views on the globe. To the N. W. are seen the blue waves of the Mediterranean, and Mount Carmel looming up in the distance—S. W. rise the hills of Samaria and Gilboa— East the whole lake of Galilee and the mountains beyond—north the snow white peaks of Lebanon—and in various directions, cities set on hills, villages in valleys, the flowery plains of Esdraelon and a thousand interesting objects arrest the attention. Among them all, stands out the village of Nazareth, where our Saviour passed so large a part of his life before his heavenly mission. On such a - spot what ideal conceptions must swell the contemplation! Can it be profane or irreverent to suppose, that in the days of his early manhood, he often trod this mount, gathered lilies—which the glory of Solomon ever equalled—up the plain of Sharon, walked along the shores of Galilee, and sorrowful and solitary at the remembrance of the Heaven from which he came down, passed whole days among the mountains, at times conversing with angels, patriarchs and prophets! Then the shores of that Lake were crowned with cities and villages—the waters were gladdened with sails and the mountains were green with verdure and with groves. Now Tiberias is almost the only city left—scarce a tree is seen on the hill top or a boat on the waters. All is desolate.
Maundrell says, Nazareth is only nine miles from the lake, but Dr. Smith makes the distance much greater — perhaps it is now lengthened by a rugged, circuitous footpath. According to Kitto it is twenty miles from Tiberias, which lies on the lake.
The extent of Palestine is small, compared to almost all the kingdoms and em pires on earth; about one hundred and eighty miles in length and varying from twenty to ninety in breadth. Yet on this small territory occurred the most magnificent events in the history of man while all the rest of the world lay in darkness. To this country in a great measure we owe our laws, religion and dearest thoughts. Still fertile in soil, and once celebrated for its vine clad valleys and
mountain groves of olives, and admirably suited for commerce on the Mediterra nean and Red Sea, it has stood desolate, oppressed and forsaken for eighteen hundred years beneath the shadows of a terrible prophecy. But there is reason to believe that the days of mourning in that fated land will soon be ended. The signs of the times portend the restoration of the Jews. The fig tree is swelling its buds and will soon put forth her leaves. The Ottoman empire is trembling and hastening to a fall. A fair interpretation of the Scriptures leads to this be lief. Such is the opinion of Dr. Smith in his valuable tour. The sorrows and sufferings of the Jews have been literally fulfilled, why then should not their restoration and future glory be equally real? When the twelve tribes of Israel once commence their return, it will be sudden; from all parts of the earth; not by ordinary means; the hand of God will be stretched forth and they will move simultaneously and enter immediately into possession of their inheritance. When this great event takes place, it will agitate the world, like an electric flash, illumining the horizon of all nations. The hearts of men every where will thrill with expectation and the eyes of the Gentiles be opened to the truth and behold Him, who was crucified on Calvary, coming in the clouds of glory. Then will the veil which has so long saddened the souls of the poor dejected Hebrews, be re moved from their heart and they will see the Messiah in his second advent, as their Lord and their God, and the days of their mourning be ended. It seems, while I muse upon this transporting theme, as though I heard a voice of many waters, and the voice of harpers harping with their harps, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Then will be realized the prophetic Jubilation, Arise. SHINE; FOR. THY LIGHT IS COME, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD IS RISEN UPON THEE.
But, the reader must pardon this digression. The subject wakes up all our best feelings as men .and christians, and the soul kindles with enthusiasm and delight, when we think of the restoration of our ancient brethren to their long lost home. The anthor of A Pilgrimage to Palestine must bear the blame, if any, for touching a chord, which ever thrills when I think of the present sufferings of the Israelite and the crowning glory which awaits him on his return to the Holy Land. My design was to recommend the faithful and excellent work of Dr. Smith to our Brethren. For the author is one of our own household, and our distinguished Brother has spread before us a rich feast, prepared by the pen of a scholar and the inspection of a man of the world. It is true, that numerous accounts of Palestine have been published, from the Journey, of Maundrell, in 1697, to the poetical Travels in the East, of Lamartine, the glowing pages of Eothen, and the Biblical Researches, of Dr. Robinson, in our own times. They wrote from different points of view, and are all valuable; and so are Chateaubriand and Dr. Clarke; while The Walks About Jerusalem, seem like a fresh shower, adding another charm to Hebrew scenery, like a setting sun on the ruins of time-honored ages.
The subject, however, is not exhausted. Not one of these writers nor any other which I have seen, gives a description, so striking and faithful, of the ac tual state and present condition of the inhabitants of Palestine, as Dr. Smith. He saw their misery with the soul of a republican, patriotic, and elevated by the recollections of his own happy land. The most common customs and domestic pursuits were not beneath his notice. Things neglected by others, who looked more to the scenery of the mountain than to the wretchedness of the hovel, were gathered by him with much fidelity. It is a book of close and useful observation. Such for instance page 165, as the account of domestic weaving, where a female is represented sitting at work on the ground. "Two rows of pins," he re marks "were driven into the turf, some three rods apart and the warp extended from one set to the other. She dipped the filling over and under with the band and beat it up firmly with a stick ;" and often "the warp was stretched between two palm trees."
It is an adage, that facts spenk louder than words; and Dr. Smith has pre sented to us such numerous facts, concerning the abject condition and sufferings of the remnant of Jews now dwelling in the Holy Land, that it is painful to read of their misery and privations. Their property is unprotected by law, and their person at all times exposed to the press-gang of the army. The very few who have any wealth, hide it in the earth and put on the dress of mendicants. If a parent have a beautiful daughter—and the daughters of Judah, like the roses of Sharon, are still beautiful as ever—he trembles lest her veil should be torn aside by the tyrant glance of the truculent Turk. There are no roads in all Palestine, and even a guide is necessary from Jaffa to Jerusalem—only forty miles— because the foot paths on the great plain of Esdraelon are often obliterated by equinoctial storms. They have no hotels, no taverns, no little inns with a cheer ful fire and lightened windows, to welcome the benighted traveller. He must carry or purchase his provisions on his journey and with his own utensils cook them as he can. His lodging is a hovel—except some convent is near—or a small, windy, worn-out room in the corner of a stable, surrounded by a filthy yard of horses, mules and muck, exposed to vermin and regiments of fleas, who are very familiar, and like the hungry Arabs, always pressing for their Baksheesh. Their houses have neither fireplace nor chimney; a brazier with a few fragments of charcoal, or the smouldering combustion of dried manure, furnishes their cooking and warms the traveller with a kind of frozen heat in a country, where the nights are 'cool and often severely cold. In all their cities they build their houses on narrow streets, without front-window or lattice, for fear of the enemy.
They mow not their grass-and are strangers to the scythe ; the hoe and a clumsy, antique wooden plough, are their only agricultural implements. Polygamy prevails in the land, and the degradation of females is shameful. In a word, the country is sparsely peopled ; the inhabitants miserably fed and clothed; their habitations wretched; their fields desolate; and their hills and mountains bleak and stern, with scarce a tree or cottage on their sides. Even the sea of Galilee lies sad and forsaken, with hardly a boat on its waters, or a fisherman on its shores. Thus desolate and down trodden is all Judea. She sits in mourning and ruins as though the curse of Kehama was upon her; her cheek is blanched with sorrow like some black Norway pine, scathed by the angry lightning, so awfully are the prophecies fulfilled to the very letter. Her land has become the den of thieves and of robbers and of savage man, more terrible than the lion coming from the swelling of Jordan.
Such is the picture of Palestine, the features of which are taken from this ex cellent tour. A journey through that country is dangerous without a guard. Yet Dr. Smith informs us that only the rich or showy in appearance are exposed to these Arab bandits. The poor man with bis humble cavalcade is seldom attacked. Thus wrote the poet several ages ago.
Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.
(The empty-handed traveller will sing face to face with the robber.)
I would recommend this interesting Pilgrimage to the Fraternity, to whom everything touching Palestine ought to be dear; and they may be assured, it will have one salutary influence, that of our appreciating more warmly, and wishing to perpetuate, the blessings we enjoy in our own land.