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embalmed the memories of Everett the statesman,
of Channing the divine, of Sparkes the
historian, and of Felton the genial Hellenic
scholar. Society composed of spirits like these
breathes a higher and more inspiriting
atmosphere than that of the surrounding states, and
proportionably to its more sensitive organisation
was the shudder which pervaded it on the
disclosure of the terrible occurrence I am about
to relate, which took place at the close of the
year 1849.

The chair of chemistry and mineralogy in
Harvard College was at that time filled by Dr.
John W. Webster, who had for more than
twenty-five years held the same position.
Besides his class of general students, he held the
additional appointment of lecturer on chemistry
in the Medical School of the University, which,
for more convenient access to the great
hospitals, has its halls at Boston, close to the
Charles River, and washed by the rising and
falling tide in the bay. Dr. Webster was a
Master of Arts and a member of the chief
societies of science both in America and Europe.
He was a gentleman of affable and agreeable
manners, eager in the pursuit of his favourite
studies, and remarkable for his faculty of
collecting and imparting knowledge in regard
to them. He was connected by birth and
marriage with some of the best families in
Boston; he associated with the higher circles,
and his wife and daughters were, universally,
favourites. The love of his children and his
home was one of his distinguishing characteristics,
and seemed to transcend every other
feeling. Still, like many men of generous
impulses, he was incautious in his expenditure,
and careless in the control of his domestic and
financial affairs. Hence he became embarrassed,
and was obliged to obtain temporary relief
by loans from his friends. Amongst others
who so accommodated him was Dr. George
Parkman, a member of an affluent and
influential family at Boston, who devoted his
time to the management of considerable estates
in land and houses, situated in the quarter
of the city immediately adjoining the Medical
College. To the erection of the latter he had
been a liberal contributor, and it was chiefly
to his instrumentality that his friend Dr.
Webster had been indebted for his election to the
chemical chair.

Dr. Parkman was somewhat peculiar, if not
eccentric, in his person and habits. He was a
tall gaunt man, of about sixty years of age,
with bony limbs, strongly marked features, and
his under-jaw protuberant and disproportionally
large. He was esteemed a just and honourable
man. In his business transactions he was
precise and punctual to an unusual degree; but so
far from being a rigorous creditor, he not only
lent with liberality, but showed the utmost
forbearance towards his debtors provided their
conduct was truthful and sincere. His
immediate relatives were persons of position and
consequence; and his brother, Dr. Samuel Parkman,
was minister of the church of which Dr. Webster
was a parishioner. In his own house, Dr. Parkman
was remarkable for methodical and
unvarying punctualityso much so, that in the
course of very many years he was never known
to be late for the dinner-hour, which was half-
past two o'clock; and his land-agent, who had
occasion to be with him daily, said that during
fourteen years, calling at least fifty times a year,
he never failed in a single instance to find him
at home.

At an early hour on Friday morning, November
23, 1849, a gentleman, whose name the
servant did not catch, called at Dr. Parkman's
house, No. 8, Walnut-street, Boston, and had
a hasty interview with him, the result of which
was an appointment to meet him the same afternoon
at half-past one o'clock. He did not tell his
family who the person was, or where the interview
was to take place. After breakfast, he
left home, cheerful as usual, and proceeded to
his ordinary business and his customary visits
to his tenants. He had an invalid daughter,
to whom he was tenderly attached; and, as it
drew near dinner-time, he purchased for her
some fresh lettuces, a rare delicacy at that season
of the year. These he left in a shop close to
the Medical College, where he made some other
purchases, saying he would return for them in a
few minutes on his way home. This was about
a quarter to two o'clock in the forenoon, but he
returned no morenor was he ever again seen

The surprise and uneasiness of his household
increased to alarm as evening fell and night
set in; but when morning came with no tidings
of him, his friends and relatives placed
themselves in active communication with the civil
authorities and the police. Great excitement
prevailed in Cambridge and Boston; the walls
were placarded with notices and rewards; the
river and harbour were dragged; and the yards
and cellars of the houses near which he was last
seen were diligently examined. But the labours
of the Saturday served in no degree to dispel the
mystery of the day before. Up to Sunday, the
only information received was the negative
result of fruitless inquiries made throughout an
area extending for upwards of fifty miles on
every side of Boston. Apprehension and dread
at length deepened into conviction that Dr.
Parkman was murdered, and his body made
away with.


During the progress of this vigilant pursuit,
the police were more than once perplexed by
assurances of voluntary witnesses that the missing
gentleman had been seen in remote parts of
the city; and anonymous letters were received
by the authorities evidently meant to divert
their attention to places at a distance, and thus
to draw them away from the real scene of the
tragedy. At length, on the afternoon of Sunday
the first reliable intelligence was received, but
it did not bring down the chain of events to a
much later moment than that at which Dr.
Parkman had last been seen living. This
information was brought by Professor Webster to