Edward D. Linton
EDWARD D. LINTON.
Edward D. Linton died on the morning of the 17th inst., aged sixty-three. Twenty months had passed since he was stricken down with paralysis, while attending a labor-meeting at John A. Andrew Hall. A year or so previous he had been deprived of work as ship-carpenter at the Navy Yard in consequence of the support he gave General Banks, then running for Congress in opposition to the regular Republican candidate. From that time he was unable to obtain steady employment, and times went hard with him. He was not of the complaining spirit, and only his most intimate friends realized the struggle he passed through. Goethe's mother said of him: "When my son has a sorrow he makes a poem of it." So by a native impulse Mr. Linton was wont to turn to good account whatever misfortune befell him. He did not permit the absence of "civil service reform" at the Navy Yard to discourage him; he was stimulated to greater effort in the cause he had so early espoused. But it also may be said to have helped hasten his death, quickening a mind already too active and unremitting in its labors. Mr. Linton was naturally of a robust constitution, and he held on to life with a tenacity that was marvellous, scarcely partaking of nourishing food during his long illness. Nature at last reluctantly gave way, and In death he was only a skeleton; but up to the last moment, save some temporary wanderings in the first part of his sickness, his mind held its steady poise; his intellectual vision was clear and serene.
Mr. Linton was born at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. He early went to New Bedford, and was apprenticed to a boat-builder. There, besides long hours at his trade, he persevered in his own education, declining for that purpose the almost imperative command of his employer to attend church, he feeling that he could and ought to spend his spare hours better. It is plain, however, although he had as then not thought very seriously on the subject, his young life bad been tinged with scepticism touching the Orthodox creed. For when he chanced to stray into the Unitarian Church and listen to Orville Dewey, he told a young friend that he had just heard for the first time something he could believe. After that, when Waldo Emerson was for a short time occupying the Unitarian pulpit there, he and his friend both went into raptures, and felt that they were "living in a new world." At the age of nineteen he was trying to give expression to his thoughts in the Boston Investigator, then under the management of Abner Kneeland.
But Mr. Linton's experience as an apprentice, and the general condition of the working-people with whom he came in contact, made the deepest impression on his mind, and turned him to thinking of measures of relief for the common laboring class. He espoused the "ten-hour" proposal, and labored for it until President Van Buren's order adopting it as the system on all government works.
Mr. Linton was early in the anti-slavery movement, but not without his eyes still open for the wrongs of all races, and with a word for their redress. It is related that he presented in an anti-slavery convention a resolution to the effect that there were working people in England whose prospect for themselves and their children's children was no whit better than that of slaves of the Southern States; that the abolition of chattel slavery was only one phase of a world-wide problem. He thus early
"In grasp of thought the future held,"
and lived to hear the news of the country's awakening forty years later to the reality of his vision. Mr. Linton's zeal in the anti-slavery cause was in no ways lessened by this larger view. He was the one young man determined Frederick Douglass should have a hearing in New Bedford. When the bill-poster dared not risk his life in putting up the bills, he traversed the city one cold winter night, and the next morning at every street-corner the people had "the news,"—they were to be "agitated" on the subject of human freedom by an ex-slave. Mr. Linton's anti-slavery work, though less prominent than some, was always to be counted on. He was an intimate friend of N. P. Rogers, and by his transcendental instincts allied himself mainly with that wing of the old abolitionists, which Rogers may be said to have led.
As a labor-reformer Mr. Linton has had quite a following of quiet but interested friends. Much of his work has been in social conversation, though he has contributed to several periodicals, and published some discussions of the labor-question in book-form. Among the latter may be mentioned Specific Payments Better than Specie Payments, and Conversations on the Currency; this last is now going through the press.
Mr. Linton early became acquainted, with Josiah Warren, and remained his life-long friend. His views of labor were largely influenced by Mr. Warren, and he became a full believer in Mr. Warren's Cost Principle; but it was as the result of careful study and mature conviction. Intellectually he stood on his own feet; not too proud to learn of others, but desiring that whatever he received should be made his own by intelligent appreciation, and so become a part of his own thought. And then the unresting desire of his life was to impart to others willing to receive all he had gained for himself.
Aside from all questions of reform, all consideration of new views, there always stands a question friendship delights to answer: What of the man himself? Few, if any, In Mr. Linton's wide circle of acquaintances are not eager to give almost unrestricted expression to their sentiments of deepest esteem. No one is blest in life in whose nature friendships are not folded and sacredly cherished. Mr. Linton's life was rendered happy in this respect from his cradle to his grave. We do not fail to remember here the faithful love, the untiring devotion of his nearest companion in life, as through weeks and months, day and night, she has watched and ministered to his helplessness, until now she is herself stricken down and rendered an invalid, perchance, for life. It is no slight tribute to Mr. Linton that he could inspire the affection and sacrifice of one so gifted intellectually, so modest and true in all her ways.
Theodore Parker in discussing the forms of greatness, speaks of four different kinds: bodily greatness, crafty greatness, intellectual greatness, and religious greatness. Of the two former, Mr. Linton could not boast. His claim to the third in eminent degree his friends may assert. By the fourth, Mr. Parker meant the power of "justice, love, and obedience to the Eternal Right." If to be obedient in this wise is to be religious, Mr. Linton was a religious man, one among ten thousand. If true greatness comes also of such obedience, Mr. Linton achieved true greatness and true success. His life has not been a public one, but one hid in its own unselfishness. The public will not be able to lay its hand upon any great finished work or Institution he has established. The work he did was without observation; but none the less great it may have been for that reason. Who can tell the force or the the flight of an idea? Mr. Linton sowed as not expecting to reap again, save in the surety of his own soul that he did not sow in vain. "He lived the life he desired to," said one at his funeral, "and it was beautiful."
- "The sun set, but set not his hope.
- Stars rise; his faith was earlier up.
- Fixed on the enormous galaxy,
- Deeper and older seemed his eye;
- And matched his sufferance sublime
- The taciturnity of time."
[The Index. Vol. 8. p. 403]
The funeral services of Edward D. Linton took place at the Unitarian Church, Charlestown, Sunday afternoon, 19th inst., and were conducted—in the absence of Rev. Pitt Dillingham, who had during his long illness been a very sympathizing and constant friend of the deceased—by Rev. Jesse Jones, assisted by Rev. Mr. Babcock and Lysander Spooner, who made short and excellent addresses. The Hutchinson family were present and furnished appropriate singing.
[The Index. Vol. 8. p. 405]