THE publication of Mr. Stewart's letter as given in the New York Sun and Herald caused considerable excitement in that city and raised the writer very much in public estimation. As has ever been the case where family quarrels stir up bad feeling between relations and create a great gulf in formerly peaceful households, so it was in the international war of the United States. For the time being, the term " united" appeared as if thrown aside, and the bitterest feeling existed in each section of the citizens. It was, therefore, a great source of pride and exultation among the Northerners to find a man of A. T. Stewart's world-wide influence taking his stand on the side of freedom and in opposition to the policy of the Slave States.
Of the immense gains which far-seeing citizens of New York and other American centres realized by their speculations in military stores just previous to the commencement of the war and during its continuance, no proximate idea has yet been given. About the close of 1860, and when Mr. Stewart was said to be worth twenty millions of dollars, he had the sagacity to see that an outbreak was not far distant, and, with his immense floating capital, he at once sent into the different markets and bought up munitions of war on such a scale of magnitude that for some time before the first ring of the rifle told that hostilities had commenced he was all but master of the situation. Bedding, blankets, soldiers' clothing, military boots, and flannel shirts he had stored by in large quantities ; in fact, he had become possessed of the great proportion of the stocks held in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia; and when the Government officials came to him as purchasers he was able to command his own terms. Still, it has frequently been admitted by the Washington authorities that of all those merchants with whom they negotiated none were so liberal as A. T. Stewart. The ratio of taxation during that time of terrible pressure was very high, and when great efforts were made by the Minister of Finance to reduce national debtedness, the sums levied off the people were enormous. For municipal purposes alone the tax laid on New York was twenty-two million dollars. That amount was paid by one hundred and fifty thousand property owners, whose aggregate estates were valued at six hundred million dollars, the rate being two dollars sixty-seven cents. on each hundred dollar valuation. W. B. Astor paid in one year four hundred thousand dollars ; A. T. Stewart's taxation for the same period was one quarter of a million dollars; and C. Vanderbilt paid two hundred thousand dollars.
Of all the popular errors that live around us there is none greater than that which supposes the keen and energetic business man to be a mere zealous pursuer of wealth, caring nothing for the outside world beyond the power it gives him of making money. There may be found in the republic of trade a number of men so absorbed in their pursuits that they think of little else ; but on the other hand, how many thousands are there that plod on day after day in the regular routine of commerce, working much longer hours than the mill operatives in this Kingdom were wont to do in times before the factory laws had any existence; yet these same men when called upon to contribute of their means to any public charity are quite as ready to open their purse-strings as they had ever been to add to their capital account. Some of A. T. Stewart's biographers have written of him as if he had been a man whose only enjoyment was the accumulation of riches. Nothing could be farther from broad fact than such statements. It is true that, to casual observers, he may have seemed cold and frigid, and that in the management of his great business he exacted scrupulous attention to details on the part of his army of assistants, but in connection with that stern love of discipline and a determination to have the line of conduct he marked out strictly adhered to, he had a heart brimful of benevolence, and a disposition which ever prompted him to distribute with no sparing hand a portion of his wealth in doing good to his less fortunate brethren.
Staircase in store
It will be recollected that, in 1862, the American war caused great depression in the trade as it existed throughout every great seat of manufactures in the United Kingdom. All forms of industry connected with manufactures suffered considerably, but none was so fairly prostrated as the cotton trade. The Southern States had been so much engaged in campaigning that the cotton plantations were partially forgotten, and production fell away so much that the value of that material rose enormously. Millowners in Lancashire could not procure full supplies for their spindles at any price. Many concerns had to be closed up in consequence of the dearth and scarcity of cotton, and tens of thousands of operatives were thrown idle. In the midst of that calamity the generous sympathy of the kind-hearted and benevolent people of all nations was quite equal to the demands made on it, and princely donations poured into the treasury created for the aid of the sufferers. A. T. Stewart contributed ten thousand dollars. In the midst of the terrible desolation of want and disease, the men whom thoughtless writers ridiculed as `' cotton lords," had themselves to bear no light burdens. Their mills, with all the expensive machinery, were either solely or partially idle ; the people who lived in the cottages which surrounded their concerns could not pay any rent, and their spindles and looms were left to rust, while sales of yarns and cloth could only be effected at immense discount from first cost. And yet, with all these difficulties to contend against, many of these " cotton lords" exhibited generosity that was in itself marvellous, and which it would have been well for some of their detractors to emulate in their own circles of life.
In another part of this volume there has been given a full detail of the munificent contribution which Mr. Stewart sent to the Lisburn Relief Committee, and also a notice of his having chartered the ship Mary Edson to take over on her return voyage a number of the cotton weavers to New York. When those emigrants reached that city the Broadway merchant had temporary homes prepared for them, and until they got into employment all were supported at his expense.
The great store was then in full play, and although the war had circumscribed business in every department of trade, there seemed no turn in Broadway save that of continued progress. About this time a Lurgan manufacturer who had been to New York on business and had taken up his quarters in Delmonico's palace hotel, had frequent opportunities of seeing A. T. Stewart, who generally dined there, and that manufacturer ever afterwards spoke of him in the highest terms. There was nothing about him of that assumption of wealth which so often follows great riches. He found the famous merchant quite a man of the world, well up in the history of his adopted country, and, through his long experience as a traveller in Europe, well able to note the peculiarities of English and Continental society.
An immense stock of fancy goods had been ordered for the Tenth Street store, the retail trade having been removed to that concern, leaving the Dicon Street building—famed as the Marble Palace—to be the great centre of the wholesale business. There was an immense development of commerce on both sides of the Atlantic in 1864, and although the war had still been fiercely carried on by each of the Powers, it became evident that the North would uphold its supremacy, and the feeling of confidence that spread abroad gave new life to the mercantile world. It was said that in the two years, '63 and '64, the turn-over in the wholesale and retail houses of A. T. Stewart & Co. footed up to one hundred and twenty million dollars, and that the net profits of each year averaged about four hundred thousand pounds of British money. The general outlay for management, or, as our American cousins have it, the annual cost of " running the concern," was estimated at one million dollars.
Mr. Stewart in after life had retrospective pleasure in referring to his exultation when, at the end of June, 1826, he found himself right in the groove of progress. He had then been only two years and nine months in business, and was carrying on his affairs at 262, Broadway. His spirit of self-reliance was strengthened by success in the new concern, and made more active by experience; but his pride became still greater as he contemplated the enormous increase of business which, during the fall of 1864, was transacted in Tenth Street. With his large accumulation of capital, A. T. Stewart had commenced to invest pretty extensively in real estate. He owned some of the most luxuriously fitted-up hotels in the city, and was also proprietor of the Globe Theatre in Broadway. Strange to say, the plodding man of business and the matter-of fact merchant was very fond of theatricals. He delighted in patronising superior talent on the stage, and that because he looked upon the well-conducted drama as one great power in adult education. He often regretted that the Church and the stage did not unite in one grand effort to elevate the tone of society throughout every section of conventional life.
After what may be termed the excitement of business that followed the
close of the war and continued for some years, there came the lull which
frequently succeeds very stirring times. During the days of depression the
Store in Tenth Street continued its career of success. In reply to the
question of whether his house had Suffered by the adverse turn of trade, Mr.
Stewart said :-
"Our business was never in a more satisfactory condition than it is at present. During the holiday season especially trade in the retail store exceeded anything the house had ever had previously. The number of people visiting the store was Simply enormous. Beginning with Monday of last week, when the number bf visiting customers was upwards of thirty-five thousand, there was a daily increase until Friday of that week, when the number amounted to over fifty thousand. On Monday last, our superintendent, Mr. Denning, estimated that not less than seventy-five thousand visited the store, and on that day I may say there were over Six thousand charges to regular customers made on the books, apart from the cash sales. The receipts for that day and also for the holiday week have not at any time heretofore been exceeded by the house, while the quantities sold were far in excess of anything before known by us."
Mr. Stewart's general health had continued very good throughout all the sensationalism that must have accompanied his unparalleled success in the world, but in course of the fall of 1873 h e felt the first symptoms of a disease which ultimately led to his death. He was then seventy-two years of age, and had been half a century in business, and was owner of wealth which could have bought out the fee-simple of the real estate possessed by half a dozen members of the higher order of the British House of Lords.
His private residence in Fifth Avenue, the " Park Lane" of New York, was a palace very superior in architectural design to that of any of Queen Victoria's residences. It is said that the building and furnishing decorations of the house cost nearly two millions British. Several of the most valuable works of ancient and modern masters adorn the picture gallery. One of these works of art cost ten thousand dollars.
It has often been noted as a remarkable feature in the peculiar character of the Frenchman that he looks upon one class of the English, and the Americans too, as being all millionaires. We have referred to the great taste which A. T. Stewart had for the fine arts. In reference to the famous picture which he purchased from Meisonier, the Paris correspondent of a Philadelphia paper said :-
" You are probably aware that this production of the most celebrated French artist of the day, and which is known by no other name than the laconic appellation of " 1807," is about to make its way across the Atlantic, there to be transferred into the hands of its fortunate purchaser, Mr. Stewart, of New York, for the trifling consideration of 300,000 francs ! I suppose this is about the largest sum ever paid for the work of a modern painter during his lifetime. The picture was originally intended to have passed into the possession of Sir Richard Wallace for the sum of 200,000 francs, but whether that gentleman was not pleased with his bargain, or whether the artist thought he had let him off too cheap at the last-mentioned price, I am not prepared to say. Certain it is that the American man of millions has stepped in between the first-made bargain and its conclusion, and carried off a prize which will make him the envy of a thousand competitors. The transaction has been noticed in all the leading journals of this continent almost as much as if it had been some important political event. Thus the Independance Beige tells us, apropos to it, that Mr. Stewart pays income-tax on a declared revenue of 25 million dollars per annum. The Figaro, of Paris, relates how Mr. Stewart, finding the Government of the North 50 million dollars in his debt at the close of the war, and fearing it might be inconvenient at that moment to repay him, said tout simplement : ' Only fifty million dollars ! Don't mention it !' and so scratched out the debt with a stroke of his pen. The same journal warns its readers not to confound Stewart of New York' with ' that other Stewart' (of Philadelphia), who is the happy possessor of the finest collection of Fortuny's paintings extant (to the number, if I mistake not, of thirty nine), and who, says Figaro, to distinguish him from his above-mentioned namesake, is called ' Stewart the poor,' having only five millions a year. Pauvre homme!' exclaimed Figaro."
A. T. Stewart was a rich man, but only an imaginative Gaul could have written the passage just quoted.
One of Mr. Stewart's pet projects was that of bringing into fertility a large landed estate he purchased from the authorities of Long Island, Hampstead, New York. Previous to that occasion he had owned a considerable tract on the same island, and when the lot of seven thousand acres was thrown on the market he bought the whole at fifty-five dollars the acre. Some erroneous statements having been made respecting his object in effecting the purchase, Mr. Stewart wrote to the local papers to say that his sole desire was to make it the site of handsome places of residence. " I propose," said he, " to erect at various points attractive buildings and healthy houses, so that what is now a barren waste may become a place of beauty, inhabited by a respectable population, desirable as neighbours. On this project I am prepared to expend several millions of dollars." This statement was made in July, 1869, and since then the wilderness has been transformed as if by magic into what has well been called the " Garden City," and which is connected by a line of railway that runs from thence to New York. On a piece of land which twenty years ago would not have supported two dozen sheep, a splendid hotel and eighty handsome dwellings have been raised. Several of these houses are quite classic in their architectural adornments. The site of the Garden City is eighty feet above the sea level, and searchers of health from New York have been delighted with the purity of the atmosphere. As a mere speculation the outlay on the great plain at Hampstead has been highly successful ; but still more important is this fact, that the salubrity of the place has aided materially in restoring to health many a worn-out citizen and not a few grief-laden invalids.
The years that immediately preceded the death of A. T. Stewart, though not times of prosperity in the chief cities of America, were characterized by the usual course of progress in the business concerns of that gentleman. He delighted to gather around him the most distinguished men of the city, and on the third Sunday in March, 1876, had his usual dinner party. I have already referred to his peculiarly superstitious feeling—he never commenced any work on Friday, and he had his respect for omens. On the occasion alluded to the party was intended to consist of sixteen gentlemen, including the host himself, but three of the invited guests were unable to attend, and, to Mr. Stewart's momentary annoyance, thirteen sat down to table. A very pleasant evening was spent, however, for he was quite a different man in his own house from the plodding merchant of Broadway. Next day he felt very ill, and did not go to business. An internal disease which had first appeared three years before set in with increased severity. The family physician, Dr. Marcey, was in close attendance, and he rallied a little under that gentleman's care, but on Thursday, the 6th of April, he had caught fresh cold and become considerably worse. On the morning of the l0th he was quite unconscious, and before the close of that day the millionaire storekeeper whose name had been a household word in every place of note in the world of commerce had passed away to the Land of Spirits.
Except on that memorable night when President Lincoln was shot as he sat in his accustomed place in the theatre, nothing had taken place in New York for the previous half century which caused such mingled feelings of astonishment and regret as did the report of A. T. Stewart's death. Very few of the citizens had heard he was ill, and even those who were in the secret did not apprehend any danger; but when it became known that he who had been the centre of attraction in the world of commerce for nearly two generations was no more, it seemed as if something akin to a family calamity had darkened the homes of thousands in the city. Telegrams announcing the sad news were sent to the different metropolises of the American States and to the chief seats of commerce in Europe. The funeral, which took place on Thursday, the 12th of April, was one of the largest ever seen in New York.
A few prominent features of A. T. Stewart's life and labours may be added
here. For many years before his death he had a branch house established in
each of the following centres of trade in Europe :— Belfast, Bradford,
Berlin, Chemnitz, Glasgow, Lyons, Paris, Manchester, and Nottingham. In the
United States there was a large place of business connected with the firm in
Boston, and one in Philadelphia. The house of A. T. Stewart & Co. was at the
same time largely engaged in the manufacture of clothing and carpet wares.
The various concerns consisted of the Holyoke Mill, the Glenhan Carpet
Factory, the Woodstock Mill, the Catskill Woollen Factory, the Waterville
Factory, the Works at Washington, the New Jersey Mill, the Thread Mill at
Catskill, and the great Manufactory in New York.
" Working Women's Home,"
A. T. Stewart was in reality a professor of the higher art of commerce, and throughout his long day of enterprise his whole aim seemed to be that of raising trade to a distinct place in the world of science. But amid all the cares connected with the government of his mercantile republic he always found leisure to carry out plans for increasing the comfort and adding to the happiness of others. In 1872 he commenced to erect the splendid building in Fourth Avenue, New York, and which he had designed as a " Working Women's Home," for the residence of the female assistants engaged in the different business houses in that city. Many years before, Mr. Stewart had observed that well-conducted and respectably brought up girls, whose relations did not live within easy distance of the dry goods stores in which they were engaged, had much difficulty in getting suitable lodgings where their food would be prepared at reasonable rates. Determined to provide with a pleasant home that interesting but neglected section of industrials, he sought the aid of a famous architect, and under that gentleman's superintendence the building was commenced, and which he hoped when finished would prove to be not only one of the handsomest, but the most comfortable erections in the city. The Home was two hundred feet square and six stories in height. An interior court of about half those dimensions was fitted up with ornamental fountains and otherwise made highly attractive, and as the purest air pervaded the whole, this court was designed as a sort of play-ground. According to the original plan, the rooms were to be heated by steam in cold weather, and the food cooked on the same principle. Every apartment was well lighted, the ceilings were twelve feet high, and the sleeping-rooms admirably ventilated. A dining-room ninety feet long and thirty feet wide formed a general table d'hote, where the young women were to have their meals at the lowest cost. Arrangements for amusement and instruction were not forgotten. There was a handsome concert room and a library, which Mr. Stewart intended sh0uld be well furnished with books, papers, and periodicals. It was the great object of the benevolent founder that he should provide for the working girls a home which would possess the comfort and convenience of a hotel as well as the protection of a private household. " This," he said, " would be the more efficient because of its not being wholly gratuitous." A small sum was to he paid by each boarder, so as to give some sort of independence to those availing themselves of its advantages. Under the superintendence of Judge Hilton, one of Mr. Stewart's tried and trusted friends, and his principal executor, the Home was finished at the sole cost of the testator's widow, and at a gross outlay of about two million dollars. According to the founder's special desire, each guest was to enjoy the comforts and conveniences of a first-class hotel at four to five dollars a week; and if that scale of charges did not meet expenses, the difference was to be made up by a claim on Mr. Stewart's real estate. In the early months of 1878 the Home was furnished, and made ready to receive guests; but whether it was because of the very strict and really conventual supervision enforced by the managers, a very short experience of the system proved the whole affair to be a failure. One of the rules was that no male friend of the guests would be permitted to visit them ; and as the divine aphorism, that "It is not good for man to be alone," has another meaning as well, the halls of the Home were soon all but deserted, and for some years past the building has been let as a public hotel. It has been said that the charges were too high; but we believe the cause of want of success arose solely in the attempt to make the Home a mere nunnery. The object of Mr. Stewart was that of the purest benevolence, and equally so was that of his widow and Judge Hilton ; it is therefore much to be regretted that from any cause or causes an institute so fraught with good for the very interesting classes of the gentler sex to whose comfort and enjoyment it was to be dedicated should have failed in its objects.
President Grant offered to appoint Mr. Stewart to the very important office of Secretary of the United States Treasury, but various obstacles intervened, and the matter fell through.
Mr. Stewart's various acts of benevolence could not be given in detail, and this because a great many of them were only known to the recipients, the donor himself, and the Great Being to whose grace His creatures are indebted for the means, and, still better, the disposition, to give.
When that aged warrior, the Emperor William of Germany, forgetting the nobility of true heroism, set his iron heel on the prostrate people of France, and as they suffered under the savage reign of their conqueror, A. T. Stewart contributed towards their relief forty thousand dollars. He also sent a large amount in aid of the burned-out citizens of Chicago.
It might have been supposed that a man who had been no less philanthropic than he was enterprising would have received from all his fellow-citizens a fair recognition of his kindly-disposed and really munificent acts; but the miserable spirit that taught the men of old to cry out, " Is Saul also among the prophets," was abroad in New York. On the Sunday after A. T. Stewart's death, Dr. Talmage, of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, preached a sermon on the subject, in which he gave the following passage :-
" My friends, what is the use of your struggling for that which you cannot keep ? As long as you have clothes and food and shelter and education for yourselves and your children, and the means of Christian generosity, be satisfied. You worry and tug and sweat and wear yourselves out for that which will not give you one item of happiness. I hear hundreds of young men in this house this morning saying, ' If I only had a certain number of hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would be satisfied.' No. Was A. T. Stewart satisfied ? Answer the salesmen and the bookkeepers of his nine dry goods establishments in the nine kingdoms of the world—he was at business in the morning before some of you are and at night when the Brooklyn ferry-boats were crowded with shopkeepers coming home, often the light was seen in his private room of the commercial palace on Broadway. Apicius poisoned himself because he had only four millions of dollars left—poor man ! There was one little thing that Stephen Girard and William B. Astor and A. T. Stewart wanted, and that was ` More !' And that is what is pestering the life out of some of you. You cannot sleep at nights you are so nervous."
Burns says ;-
" Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us."
Dr. Talmage paid a visit to the United Kingdom some two or three years ago, and delivered a series of lectures before different literary and religious associations during that tour. In the spirit of " Christian generosity" he exacted at first fifty pounds a night for his clerical performance ; but, like Sarah Bernhardt, when he found his popularity rising, he demanded and received one hundred pounds for each lecture. It was reported that on one occasion the Rector of a parish in England, whose income was not one-fifth of that which De Witt Talmage receives from his people in Brooklyn, had engaged the reverend dramatist to lecture before the Young Men's Society in his district. As the sale of tickets did not amount to more than two-thirds the lecturer's demand, the latter was appealed to in the hope that under the circumstances he would accept the lesser sum ; but, Shylock-like, he insisted on the full amount of his bond, and got it too.
Where, it might be inquired, was the "Christian generosity" he so eloquently advocated in his sermon on the death of A. T. Stewart, when he could screw from the pockets of a struggling Rector an extra fifteen or twenty pounds for the recitation of a farcical lecture ?
In this plodding world of ours an opinion is frequently heard to the effect that superior education unfits the student for the everyday work connected with general commerce, but in the case of A. T. Stewart it will have been seen that the scholastic training of the boy led to the possession of great administrative powers in the man, while his classical attainments gave him a love of the beautiful, which in after life added immensely to his means of self-enjoyment.
The personal appearance of the Broadway capitalist was about the most
unassuming that could well be conceived. He dressed plainly, and was rather
fastidious about the fit of his garments, but never indulged in any display
of jewellery, the petite gold watch, which was worn in the vest pocket,
being the only appendage he seemed to care for. About two years before Mr.
Stewart's death a lady called at the store to inquire about a lad from the
North of Ireland, and meeting, as she thought, one of the clerks, begged of
him that he would be good enough to show her the department in which the
young man was engaged. The person whom she addressed was most attentive, and
requested her to take a seat in one of the waiting-rooms, while he went in
quest of her friend. In a few minutes he returned with the young man, and,
bowing to the lady, left to attend his business elsewhere. After some chat
with the lad, she expressed a wish to see the great merchant, of whose
wealth she had heard so much. " Why," replied her young friend, " Mr.
Stewart himself was the gentleman to whom you applied for information about
me when you came into the store, and who has just left us."
We have already alluded to the easy and refined style of Mr. Stewart's address in social life. He enjoyed genuine humour with all the zest that forms the natural spirit of his countrymen, and, while rarely disposed to take a lead in political topics, he always entered heartily into the current gossip of the day. In the whole history of mercantile life there is nothing to be found at all approaching the success which followed the enterprize of this marvellous merchant. Other men there have been whose property was as valuable as that which he left behind him, but those millionaires had inherited from their fathers a great part of their wealth. A. T. Stewart was the sole architect of his own fortune, and by a course of prudence, integrity, and earnestness, he succeeded in raising to the very pinnacle of perfection the most extensive concerns ever known in the entire annals of commerce. A. T. Stewart was, indeed, the Napoleon of merchants. In the difficult position of controlling and directing a whole army of managers, clerks, milliners, and salespeople, he displayed power which in another department of life would have raised him to the highest military rank ; and in the readiness with which he was able to master details relative to the state of foreign markets, the existing and prospective value of dry goods, and other questions connected with his vast business, he seemed quite a marvel of mercantile philosophy. And yet, as we have seen, amid all the hurry of everyday exertions, he found time to keep himself well up in literary subjects, and to cultivate his taste for the fine arts. In private life, and when he had left off the harness of commerce, A. T. Stewart was a perfect gentleman, easy in manner and polished in conversation ; but, except in a few instances, he was not popular with his brother merchants. For many years before his death the most erroneous statements were occasionally made through the Press concerning his business and general habits, and since his death equally absurd gossip has been published on the same subject. Many and rather hostile were the criticisms of periodical writers, who discussed the merits and demerits of " Macaulay's History of England" when the first two volumes appeared. It was said that the brilliant reviewer had himself perverted facts, and given such erroneous versions of incidents connected with former ages as to destroy all faith in him as a correct annalist. The famous historian was bound to chronicle, as best he could, events that occurred some centuries before the age in which he lived, and, of course, had to depend on the writers that preceded him for much of his material; but in the case of A. T. Stewart, the man who lived in our own day, we have heard statements made as to his early and later history as wildly absurd and as far from fact as anything to be found in realms of pure fiction. Among the many errors that have been published, one of Mr. Stewart's biographers tells us that "the merchant prince of Broadway came to New York a poor Irish pedlar."
Another had it that " when he started the Broadway store in September, 1823, he was his own shopman and servant." The truth is, however, that on the day he began business he had two experienced hands to assist him. A third writer of reminiscences says that "during his first few years' residence in that city he lived on the interest of his fortune, and only engaged as a teacher for mere amusement." We have already shown that A. T. Stewart had not only received a first-class education, but that throughout his whole life he cultivated with the zeal of a student the lessons taught him in early days, and that during his few years' residence in New York previous to his coming of age, when he returned to Ireland for the purpose of getting the property left him by his grandfather, he supported himself in New York by his educational abilities. Again, much has been written about the martinetism of Mr. Stewart towards his employés. It is true that, like the Iron Duke, he was absolute in his dictum, and when he issued commands as to certain details of business he did not permit any of his people to deviate from such orders. Implicit obedience he must have, but no great administrator ever delighted more than he did in recognising the faithful discharge of duty on the part of his assistants. He died childless.
It is a curious episode in the history of humanity that every great man has his special weakness. In looking over the list of names that have figured in history for the last five hundred years, we find some really interesting instances of the persons who stood on the top rung of the ladder of fame exhibiting phases of character hardly known in the lower strata of society. One of A. T. Stewart's peculiarities was that of being religiously reticent on the subject of his boyhood. He occasionally referred to John Turney, his maternal grandfather; but of Thomas Stewart and Martha, his paternal grandfather and grandmother, or of his four uncles and three aunts, he was never heard to speak. A friend once wrote him in favour of one of his relatives, then in poor circumstances ; but he never replied to that letter. More than thirty years ago Tom Stewart, then the only surviving son of his grandfather, had got past the age of labour, and was badly off in Lisburn. On having been appealed to on the subject by Mr. John Owden, of the firm of J. N. Richardson & Co., A. T. Stewart sent the applicant means to pay his uncle ten shillings a week, which sum was continued till the old man's death.
That disposition to ignore the existence of his relations in this country was evinced in his last will; and most remarkable is the fact that the world-renowned merchant, who is said to have died worth fifty millions of dollars, and whose benevolence towards the outside world was munificent, did not leave a solitary cent. to those blood relations who, seeing that he died without issue, had direct claims on his testamentary action.
Those descendants of old Tom Stewart were certainly not rich, but in their own position of life they were very respectable, very industrious, and well conducted people.
This neglect of his relations was one weak point in the character of one of the most wonderful of the world's commercialists. And yet he loved with national fervour the land of his birth, and in her times of need administered with liberal hand to Ireland's necessities. He has gone to his final resting-place, and, taking him for all in all, more than one generation will have passed before the world sees another A. T. Stewart.
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