North Conway: 1860's

Welcome to the seventh installment of the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes by Mrs. E. Ball Hughes.

    In the last installment, we learned about The Birth of Pokerisms in Eliza's own words, the commercialization of them, and how Ball Hughes enjoyed burning them.

Text of handwritten pages  37-40 with original punctuation:


... In 1866 he went with his family to North Conway – had a small studio put up in the Pine grove near Mr. Willey’s – In it he model’d read and enjoy’d the beautiful scenery around him, and by his cheerful pleasant manners gather’d 


many friends will recall with pleasure the happy hours passed in his society that summer! Will remember how he would go along those beautiful woods with a volume of Milton, or Shakespeare under his arm. both favorite authors of whom he never tired.  Our sculptor had learn’d that the bread of life is love!  The salt of life is work the sweetness of life is poetry _ the water of life, is Faith.  The lovely scenery around him, had done him good!  It had refreshed and strengthen’d him!  Had made him realize what a sacred burden,  is this life we bear, taught him to look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly – Stand up and walk beneath it stedfastly
Oh My friends Nature is indeed a large print Catechism!  Ever teaching us to look. - 
Higher yet and higher 
out of clouds and night 
nearer yet and nearer 
rising to the light.


Mr. Hughes was very fond of
the old house, in which we had lived about seventeen years, and as it had changed hands three times, Mrs. Hughes suggested to her oldest daughter, who had been teaching in the High School Brookline many years, that by the terms offer’d, it would be a safe and desirable investment, and she accordingly purchased it, thereby making it doubly precious to us all.

We were surrounded by intelligent people!  Rich, and poor, loved the dear sculptor every man whom he met, took off his hat to him, because they knew he would do the same – and said a poor Irish woman who came to the house after his death, “I never got into a horse car with a basket or bundles, but he would get up and fine me his seat just as he would do to any Laddy if she was standing yes he deserved all the kind things that were said!  And these words came from warm hearts that money could not have purchased, hearts very sensitive to courtesy and kindness!


Mr. Hughes returned to his home with renewed energy, and at once resumed his study. life...


    In this installment, we learn about Ball Hughes' summer in North Conway, New Hampshire in the 1860's. He loved the beautiful scenery of Crawford Notch and had time for modeling in his rustic studio and time for reading and reflection as he walked through the woods. He had grown weary in the 1850's and appeared frail in his later life. The summer at the Willey House refreshed his mind and body.

    We may never have known about Ball Hughes' studio and summers in New Hamphire if it wasn't for Eliza's journal and the family photographs that were passed down through the Brown family.

Notes (by journal page number):

P. 37
See New Hampshire Studio for more information and family photographs of the Ball Hughes family in front of the rustic studio in the woods behind the Willey House in North Conway.

P. 38
Ball Hughes loved the ideal in nature and was a reader of great literature, like his wife, Eliza. See Willey House and White Mountain Art for images of the scenery of Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. White Mountain Art has a sketch of a nearby waterfall done by a Ball Hughes family member and a photograph of what the waterfall looks like today.

Eliza quotes from the article The Jewish Church; Its History, Geography, and Poetry in the Eclectic Review Vol IV January 1863, London: Jackson, Walford, & Hodder, 1863, p. 120 and later that year in the Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art Vol. 59 May to August 1863, New York: W. H. Bidwell, 1863, p. 32:

...Love, the bread of life;
work, the salt of life;
poetry, the ideal, the sweetness of life;
faith, the water of life...

Her next quote: "what a sacred burden,  is this life we bear, taught him to look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly – Stand up and walk beneath it stedfastly." is an excerpt from a poem by Mrs. Butler, formerly Miss F. Kemble, recorded in Macphail's Edinburgh Ecclesiastical Journal and Literary Review Vol I, Edinburgh: Myles Macphail, 1846, p. 168:

...A sacred burden is this life ye bear; 
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly, 
Stand up and walk beneath it stedfastly...

Eliza then quotes from the poem, 
More and More by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), that was later put to music in the hymn: "Upward":


Purer yet and purer
I would be in mind,
Dearer yet and dearer
Every duty find;
Hoping still and trusting
God without a fear,
Patiently believing
He will make it clear.

Calmer yet and calmer
Trials bear and pain,
Surer yet and surer
Peace at last to gain;
Suffering still and doing,
To his will resigned,
And to God subduing
Heart and will and mind.

Higher yet and higher
Out of clouds and night,
Nearer yet and nearer
Rising to the light--
Light serene and holy--
Where my soul may rest,
Purified and lowly,
Sanctified and blest.

--Johann W. von Goethe

P. 39
Eliza pauses to mention how her daughter, Georgina, was persuaded to purchase the family home, Sunnyside, in the same year that the family visited North Conway. Apparently the Ball Hugheses had been renting the home since 1851 since Eliza says it had changed hands three times while they lived there. This is not surprising based on their reported poverty and financial struggles over their years in America.

We also see again how the Ball Hugheses associated with many people in Dorchester and how Ball Hughes was always kind and polite to everyone.

P. 40
Eliza continues and says that Ball Hughes returned home to Sunnyside, from North Conway, with renewed strength. From the difference in the two family photos in front of the studio behind the Willey House, it appears that the Ball Hughes spent more than one summer in North Conway.

Read Eliza’s testament to Ball Hughes in the Next Installment.

last update 4/11/2012
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2012