Talcott Williams, Gentleman of the Fourth Estate

Talcott Williams, Gentleman of the Fourth Estate

Talcott Williams, Gentleman of the Fourth Estate

Talcott Williams, Gentleman of the Fourth Estate

Excerpt

"That little handful of seed planted upon the coast has thriven until today the tree towers like a cedar of Lebanon, casts its fruitful boughs over two oceans, and covers with its protecting shade the nations and peoples of the western hemisphere. This is the contribution that New England has given to the American people and of which eighty million of freemen are today inheritors." TW at sixty uttered these words, 272 years after his seed had drifted into Rocksbury Town, Mass., his grandparents-with-five-greats, Elizabeth and Robert William; but TW was no nearer to them than to the other 127 grandparents-with-five-greats from whose loins he sprang. Can therefore this life of TW be anything but a splintery chip of the old block, tracing his clan, as it does, chiefly in the direct paternal line?

Joseph Pulitzer said, "Many authors audaciously begin without having learned to write." I do. TW said, "A queen bee is made by giving the larva a special diet. There is a belief that a special diet of calendars, documents and other raw material of history will make a historian. It is a mistake." Mea culpa. Besides these can'ts there is a won't. The truth you shall have and nothing but the truth, but the whole truth? Lust, murder, suicide hide in every man's closet; the William closet opens just wide enough for you to see -- him. Perhaps I should not promise even the bare truth. What can one do with a genealogy in which "b" stands for "born" and "baptise," "d" for "die" and "daughter"; with church records one page of which gives a description of a man that contradicts that on the next; where father, son, grandson have the same name and walk the same path? The very tomb stones obligingly offer a choice of dates. Can I create a life out of a cobweb? First catch my cobweb. I look about the room, remembering that Scottish hero who caught courage from a spider. Lo! there is a web--where it shouldn't be. Here goes!

"Vital Records of Roxbury"--that sounds substantial--has ten . . .

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