Some time ago I wrote about the Rev. Adam Wallace, a circuit-riding minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the antebellum DelMarVa peninsula. One of Rev. Wallace’s charges on the circuit was the town Milton, where he formed a strong bond with the former Gov. David Hazzard that would last until the latter’s death in 1864. Rev. Wallace officiated at Hazzard’s funeral, and gave a memorable sermon. At the behest of the Hazzard family, in 1865 Rev. Wallace published a pamphlet that was comprised of the sermon he gave at Hazzard’s funeral, an obituary, and various other written pieces he deemed appropriate to include. He titled it A Memorial of the Hon. David Hazzard.
I discovered an original print of this pamphlet in the Milton Historical Society collection recently, in extraordinarily good condition in spite of it being over 150 years old. I have not been able to find any portion of this pamphlet on line, and as far as I know the version I’ve made available is the only one available on the Web. It is an unusual document for Milton, being an extended eulogy in print of a significant personage of the town. It also contains the only text of a 19th century sermon delivered from a Milton pulpit that I’ve ever run across, the one delivered by Rev. Adam Wallace at the funeral of Gov. Hazzard. I’ve scanned the document in its entirety and provided a link to it below; the file is big and may take a minute or more to open.
The poem that introduces the pamphlet is titled The [Old Man’s] Funeral, by William Cullen Bryant. It is not the best known of Bryant’s works, but it was familiar enough to the Victorians and referenced in other works such as Reminiscences After Thirty Years In The Ministry by L. M. Zimmerman. It is a fitting prologue to the rest of the pamphlet; three of the four verses are spoken by a minister to mourners weeping over an aged man’s bier, admonishing them that the life of the departed was virtuous, fulfilled and complete, and now it was time for his final rest. The poem encapsulates in a few lines everything that will be said in the many pages that follow.
Wallace also records the exact program of worship followed at the funeral, down to the hymns sung and the readings from the Book of Job and from Revelations. It is the text of the sermon, however, where all of Wallace’s ideas are woven together to pay tribute to his friend. It begins with hundreds of words of exposition wherein elements of the Bryant poem, the readings of the funeral service, and several hymns of the time are utilized to build a characterization of a person who is finally revealed to be David Hazzard, the deceased. The sermon is lengthy, and would be hard to sit through for someone accustomed to receiving wisdom from tweets and sound bites, but intricate literary structure and oratory were art forms in 1864; the mourners no doubt would have been transfixed by Wallace’s words and his delivery, for he was an exceptional speaker.