Memoirs of Boston's Great Fire of 1872

 Rev. Mr Greene, 
           My dear Sir,  

  If I had written to you last Saturday, I should have written a very different letter from this. I made an appointment to see certain persons on Saturday afternoon at Boston. All things then looked favorable. But the fire broke out before I had finished my remarks and darkness came from the fire. First, the very persons from whom I had hoped to get funds in Boston are burnt out. Secondly, a very unusual proportion of orthodox Congregationalists are burnt out. Thirdly, some who would have been our most liberal patrons are Trustees of Institutions which have suffered much from the fire and these gentlemen will feel it necessary to give to the institutions already on their hands, rather than to take new institutions upon their hands. Thus, the Methodist College probably loses nearly $1,000,000 and the Episcopal Seminary many thousands. I fear the Methodists and the Episcopalians will not give anything at present. Even Mrs. Claflin thinks it best not to say anything to the Governor about becoming a Trustee. For these reasons I doubt whether we can rely on our merchants in Boston for anything at present, perhaps not for a year or more. For the same reasons, I doubt whether it is best to invite Mr. Lawrence and such men to become Trustees. Such men are now confused, perplexed; and they cannot tell how much they will be obliged to give to the Institutions to which they are already committed. It seems to me now, that nothing can be done this winter in Boston for Smith College, and the future is doubtful; i.e. it is doubtful when we can begin to operate in Boston. Is it not best to confine our efforts to Northampton & vicinity for the months to come? Other Institutions judge it unwise to calculate on Boston for a year to come. It does seem to me, that we cannot safely promise much aid from Boston, until the merchants shall have recovered from their present shock. Meanwhile let me ask: Would it be well to appoint clergymen rather than laymen to our Board of Trustees; Phillips Brooks, Rufus Ellis, Chandler Robbins, and such men? They have not suffered from the fire. Would it be proper to appoint Edward Everett Hale??? I wish you would talk on the subject with Prof. Tyler. I do not know, but will think of the matter more. I did expect to write you such a letter as you desired; but the fire burned up that expectation. In your Northampton interview will it not be enough to point to Amherst and Andover, towns which have been created by the Literary Institutions in them. Gov. Sprague offered about $100,000 to Brown University, if it would remove from its present location to the neighborhood of his farm: i.e. he offered to give ten acres of land, valued at $100,000 about. The interests of a town are promoted by such Institutions, as anybody can see. 
I will converse with the above named ministers, if it is thought best. Please communicate with me, after you have seen Prof. Tyler. 
I am very sorry to write such a smoky letter; but I have just come from the smoke of Boston, and that smoke is dense. 

              Yours very truly, 
                   Edwards A. Park  

Andover, Nov. 11, 1872 


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