Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 48, page(s) 602-610

OBITUARY NOTICE OF LOREN P. WALDO

Loren Pinckney Waldo died September 8th, 1881, at Hartford, where he had long resided, in the eightieth year of his age. He was born in Canterbury in this state February 2d, 1802. Of French descent in the paternal line and (as his name indicates) of Waldensian blood, he inherited the energy and resolution, the love of civil and religious freedom, and the inflexible honesty which characterized him. His school education was completed when he was fourteen years of age. From that age to twenty-one he taught school every winter, devoting the rest of the time to labor on the farm in support of his father's family, the poor health of his father making it necessary that he and his brother should assume the entire family support. He however devoted all his leisure-time to study, and during this period mastered the higher branches of mathematics and then taught, and acquired a good knowledge of the Latin language. He also thoroughly studied Hedge's Logic in the fields, in the brief intervals of labor, and for two years before he became of age read law during the winter evenings.

At twenty-one he left home with nothing but the clothes he wore and entered the law-office of his uncle John Parish, in the town of Tolland, pursuing his studies and at the same time earning his living till he was admitted to the bar at Tolland County in September, 1825, at the age of twenty-three.

On the 22d of November of the same year he married Frances Elizabeth Eldridge of Tolland, and soon after removed to Somers in the same county and began the business of his profession.

Few men have commenced life under greater disadvantages, few have encountered such obstacles with equal courage and persistence, or have been more successful in surmounting them. His brave struggles for an education and his well-known integrity recommended him to public confidence and respect, and he soon obtained a good degree of prosperity in his business. In all his labors and trials at that time and throughout life he was sustained and cheered by his wife, a noble woman, whom he survived not many years.

He was postmaster in Somers for two years, and also one of the superintendents of public schools. For a considerable time he taught a private class of young men who were qualifying themselves for teaching. His interest in the cause of education was great and continued through life. He was also a zealous advocate of the cause of temperance, and practiced throughout life total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors.

In 1830 he removed to Tolland, where he resided until 1863. During this time he represented that town in the General Assembly in the years 1832, 1833, 1834, 1839, 1847, and 1848. He was State's Attorney from 1837 until 1849, and was Judge of Probate for the district of Tolland for the years 1842 and 1843. In 1847 he was chosen by the legislature one of a committee of three for the revision of the statutes of the state, since known as the revision of 1849. He was also afterwards appointed one of the committee which made the revision of 1866.

In 1849 Mr. Waldo was elected by the democratic party, to which he belonged through life, to represent the first district, comprising the counties of Hartford and Tolland, in the thirty-first Congress of the United States. He was distinguished in Congress as elsewhere for his untiring industry, and won universal respect and confidence by his faithfulness and integrity. At the expiration of his term he was appointed Commissioner of the School Fund for this state. During the administration of President Pierce he was appointed Commissioner of Pensions, in which service he continued until elected a judge of the Superior Court for a term of eight years. At the expiration of this term, having with Judge (afterwards Chief Justice) Seymour failed of a re-election on political grounds in circumstances which are explained in the obituary sketch of Judge Seymour next preceding, he removed to the City of Hartford, where he pursued his profession until his death, in partnership with Ex-Governor Hubbard and Alvin P. Hyde, his son-in-law.

Judge Waldo was a man of religious convictions and life. In early life he joined the Congregational Church of Canterbury, and during his residence in Hartford was a constant and devout attendant upon and communicant in the South Congregational Church in that city, although he had come to reject some of the tenets of the Calvinist creed and to hold the theological views of the conservative Unitarians. His unsectarian and Christian spirit made him not only a sympathetic attendant upon the public worship there, but a cordial participant in the Christian activities of the church.

The love of music was very strong in Judge Waldo throughout his life. In his earlier years he was a fine singer and to the last his deep bass voice was heard in the congregational hymns in public worship.

At a meeting of the Hartford Bar, called upon the occasion of Judge Waldo's death, the following admirable sketch of his character and tribute to his memory was given by Ex-Governor Hubbard.

GOVERNOR HUBBARD'S ADDRESS.

I have long had--I hope I may never cease to have--some of my choicest personal friends amongst my brethren at the bar. And so, as one after another has fallen from our ranks, I have occasionally, as a kind of pious duty, attempted a word or two of tribute. But to-day I hesitate. I have just come from chambers which lack a familiar presence, and where stands in its mute eloquence a vacant desk. If I were to consult my own feelings I, too, should remain mute. But when the whole bar is met to utter its common grief for one who has been to us all friend, father and brother in one, how can I, who have known him so long and loved him so well, refuse to break silence with a few broken words?

I have known Judge Waldo ever since my admission to the bar. For the last fourteen years I have been connected with him in business, and during all those years have been not only in daily but in intimate relations with him. Let me, then, measuring my words by my knowledge of the man, attempt a passing estimate of his professional and personal character.

He was not a man of large general knowledge nor of very extensive literary culture. I have heard him say that he never attended school after he was fourteen years old, and only two months after he was thirteen, and that he studied Hedge's Logic while at work in the potato field. But he had a marvelous genius of industry, and by force of this he came up out of the common school into the profession, and through the profession into distinguished stations in the state and general government.

Neither was he a brilliant lawyer. In a strict sense I hesitate to call him an eminently learned one. But his acquirements were very ample in all the common learning of the profession; and in particular branches, such as municipal, statutory, probate and practice law, and especially in the great field of elementary law which governs the common affairs of common life, he had few superiors. His opinions on these subjects had an almost judicial authority with the community; and so it resulted that not a few of the differences between man and man which in bad hands itch and fester into law suits, sometimes into hereditary enmities, were composed almost at the outbreak by his sagacious counsels and friendly mediations.

He lacked somewhat the qualities which give reputation to an advocate; that one-sidedness, or rather many-sidedness of intellect which lights up one side of a cause and casts the other in shadow, as the sun kindles in turn one hemisphere and darkens the other; that light artillery of wit, satire, invective and technical assault which always worries and sometimes wastes an antagonist; that deadly insight--Rufus Choate once called it an "instinct for the carotid"-- which discovers as it were by intuition an adversary's weak point and drives through it by strategy, surprise or main force. Some natures there are that seem strongest in repose; others that like an athlete need the point of an enemy's weapon to sting them into strength. His nature was not at all of this make and temper. Quite the contrary. The whole drift of his mind and the whole moral constitution of the man tended to the things which make for peace. He had little taste, therefore, for the hot and heady contentions of the forum, little stomach for its duels of wits and stormy antagonisms.

As a natural consequence his field of practice was more largely that of a counsellor than an advocate. This office is seemingly more humble than the other, but not, let me add, one whit less responsible, and I have sometimes thought, of higher grade and value, for it accomplishes some of the best professional results by reason and without the expense of bad blood and litigation. And then, besides all and above all, it comes home closer than any other to the conscience of a client, and, if well exercised, tries his reins and discovers whereof he is made. It is not unfrequently the great and solemn confessional of the law which carries with sealed lips the cares, and fears and perplexities of men, the peace and honor of families, the successions of children and of children's children, the casuistries and restitutions of the living and the anxieties and testaments of the dying. With what religious fidelity and good conscience our friend discharged this almost priestly function I have no need to tell; the name and fame of it are still fresh amongst us. More than any other man I have ever known in the profession--as much as any I have known even in the sacred calling--he was a peacemaker amongst men, a pacificator of their strifes and quarrels.

In a word, his practice represented not so much the battles and sieges of professional warfare as its truces, diplomacies and treaties of peace.

I have spoken of our friend as a counsellor. Let me now say a word of him as a judge. Without possessing great boldness of purpose or the highest range of intellect, he had--what else his mind might possibly have lacked--a most admirable poise for the judicial office and a very delicate appreciation of natural equities. He took pleasure in determining the controversies of man by the standard of the judicial conscience. He delighted less in the cast-iron forms and rules of law than in the flexible modes and "uncovenanted mercies" of chancery. Accordingly he used to stretch the administration of law as near as might be--a legal doctrinaire might say perhaps too near--to the lines of equity, and the lines of equity as near as possible to the lines of good conscience.

No judge was ever more patient and painstaking in investigation, more steady in temper, more courteous in bearing, more dispassionate in judgment, in a word, more clear and conscientious in his great function as a minister of justice. When he put on his office he put off affection and favor, as if always mindful that the measures we mete to others are to be meted to us in turn. We have had abler judges on our bench, without doubt, but never one I think more hard-working, faithful and useful.

I have already said that our deceased brother was greater as a counsellor and judge than as an advocate; let me now add that as a man he was greater than either, and equal, I think, to the best.

Without anything whatever of pretension, his life was a pattern of all those things which are honest and of good report amongst men. His industry was incessant; rest with him was rust; and he husbanded every day and hour of his life as if lent him on a usury for good. His chief purpose was not to gain riches or applause, but to walk justly in all things. Such qualities as these sometimes engender something of censoriousness in judgment, something of austerity in morals, but none of these things tended in the least to narrow the breadth of his social life or freeze up any of its warm currents. On the other hand, he was full of the gentlest humanities, singularly free from evil-speaking, and as large and tender almost as a woman in his love and sympathies.

Frugal and temperate in his habits, afflicted with neither poverty nor wealth, his manhood was passed in the practice of all those virtues which conduce so largely to the health both of body and mind; and he ripened at last into an old age that was almost youthful. If gray hairs be, as is so often said, a crown of glory, the crown is not seldom set with thorns; for with old age there come in the order of nature I know not what infirmities of temper, what physical dishonors like as it were a moth fretting a garment, what darkenings of the sun and the moon and the stars, what vain struggles by spent swimmers against the swift current, what enforced marches with reverted eyes and sealed orders into the land of shadows.

Nothing of all this in the declining years of our friend. The day was far spent and the night at hand, yet he was as trustful and even-tempered as a child. Nothing barren or wintry in this old age of his--I speak that which I have myself seen--but everything ripe and genial; as when a mellow autumn sets in upon the toil and scorch and sweat of summer, and, though verdure and flower and the voice of the bird are gone, yet the song of labor is on the hillsides, and the harvests gather themselves into garners, and the wasting of foliage flushes into purple, and the sloping sun yellows into gold. All this perhaps I have little need to relate, for you have seen it all under your own eyes; only I may add that with this disappearing old man disappears a life which would be thought as gentle as old George Herbert's, if as gentle a pen as good old Isaac Walton's could be found to sketch it. You may easily find greater men, but where a better, a more white-souled one?

I have thus given you my idea, founded on much observation, of the character of our deceased brother. `Tis a friendly portrait, I will not deny--I would not have it otherwise--but true, I hope, to modesty of nature.

I cannot close without calling to mind in a common memory those other patriarchs of our profession, the fellows of the deceased in age and rank--the roll of them I will not call--who have passed away since yesterday, as it were, leaving behind them--am I not right, or does affection mislead my judgment?--no successors of equal rank and stature. The last of that great patriarchate is gone. The roll closes.

"Abiit ad pluras."

And now as I look over our broken ranks, and my eyes miss this white-haired and venerable leader, this loved and fatherly presence gone hence where go the judges and counsellors of the earth till the heavens be no more, may I not here and now, before our ranks close again and we move on and leave our dead comrade behind--some short marches only behind--may I not here and now, in the presence of this brotherhood which knew him best and loved him most, borrow for my last words that golden benediction of our Supreme Counsellor and Judge--Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

The following extract from the sermon delivered at Judge Waldo's funeral by his pastor, Rev. Dr. Parker, gives a most felicitous sketch of his character, especially in its moral and religious aspects.

FROM THE SERMON OF REV. DR. PARKER.

Seventeen years ago Judge Waldo came from his family into this parish and entered into communion with us in this congregation and society. He has been with us until now, in all simplicity, sincerity, integrity, serviceableness, and honor. During that time no one has manifested a truer, livelier interest in the welfare and prosperity of this religious society, no one has been more personally identified with its various services and activities.

Till within a recent period his venerable figure was regularly seen in the Sunday-school, and up to the time of his last sickness he was a regular attendant upon all the public services of worship. How much he loved, prized and enjoyed the services of this sanctuary can hardly be told, the reason being, I suppose, that he put so much interest into them.

Speaking now as pastor of this congregation, I testify of his great and signal services to us, of our great and grievous loss in his death, of our universal esteem, respect, reverence, and affection for him. His was the towering form and commanding figure in this congregation even to the last. His counsels were as freely given as they were wise and prudent. Even in his old age he was a tower of strength to pastor and people.

Of my own personal indebtedness to him, friendship and affection for him, I cannot trust myself to speak. So had he dwelt with us here, going in and out before us in all humility, uprightness, purity, peaceableness, and godliness. And as in this congregation, so in this community, and so in the face of all with whom, anywhere, he has held relations, social or professional. There is but one testimony. It is multitudinous, but absolutely in unison. He was good all through--thoroughly good. For faithfulness, truthfulness and integrity, and for purity of life, the name of Judge Waldo is a synonym. But goodness means more than any combination of these qualities. Goodness is that supreme spirit which organizes all such separate virtues into a lovely, kindly, beautiful unity of character. This goodness was his pre-eminently. And it shone out more conspicuously, perhaps by reason of the fact that Judge Waldo was a particularly plain and simple-minded man--of transparent nature. What was in him shone out clearly, in word and deed.

Moreover he was what we may venture to describe as an old-fashioned man in many of his manners and habits. This he was by Puritan birth and training, by early conditions of life, by temperament and education. So that his goodness was manifested in certain quaint forms that were all the more delightful, as suggesting and perpetuating a type of manners, stately, yet benignant, dignified, yet simple, which was more prevalent among our fathers, in the grand old homespun age of New England which Dr. Bushnell has described.

If one stands in the nave of the cathedral of Cologne, he sees on one side two splendid windows of modern design, and opposite, two windows of older device. Both are beautiful, as the same light streams through them, but to most the older windows, by reason of their ancient and quaint patterns, are the more attractive and pleasing. And somewhat so we may compare the old men like Judge Waldo, in whom ancestral manners and habits have been preserved, with others who have grown up in new conditions of life when the same light and glory irradiate them.

It has often been my privilege and pleasure to hear Judge Waldo talk, in a free way, of the conditions, pursuits and struggles of his early life. He unconsciously showed in such conversations when and how the foundations of his success in life were laid. Quitting the school at the age of fourteen to help out the meager support for the family, taking upon him the burdens that belong to mature life, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, studying by fire-light of evenings, and in the intervals of hard field-labor, teaching school from district to district in winters, and boarding from house to house, teaching private classes, studying law at evening after work-days, borrowing money to purchase law books, and so struggling and fighting his way--he came at last to the point of marrying the noble woman who was his help-meet almost through life, and starting in his profession with nothing Such was his heritage and discipline in youth--worth more to him probably than a princely fortune would have been. It was a charming story to hear from the old man's lips, as he told it with kindling eye and kindling spirit. That courage, perseverance, fidelity, integrity, and diligence were sustained throughout life, giving him success in business, the unbounded confidence and honor of men, and above all a character that no storms could shake. "The child was father of the man."

Of Judge Waldo's religious character I forbear to speak much. I should be ashamed to defend it. I should insult this congregation and this company of lawyers, and this community, and his memory, by stooping to suggest that notwithstanding some doctrinal variations from orthodoxy he was a Christian man.

The orthodoxy or unorthodoxy has nothing to do with it. Such characters as his demonstrate this. Would to God, gentlemen, that you and I and all who hear me this day, and all Christian men and ministers, were as good Christians as he was. His notions and opinions, never obtruded, and always held with equal modesty and firmness, were his own. His spirit was that which all good men and women have in common, from the time of righteous Abel until now: the spirit which pervades and unites the blessed company of all faithful people. But enough. It seems but a little while since we brought hither the body of his beloved wife. Her, too, we all knew and loved. That kindly face, those gentle eyes full of the pleasant light of a most lovely spirit, some of us will never forget. A mother in Israel!

And now his body awaits burial. Can we ever forget that tall frame, that white head, and rugged but often radiant face, that honest voice, that benignant aspect, that kindly courteousness of the gracious gentleman, that patriarchal simplicity of life? "The memory of the just is blessed." "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness."

Farewell! oh friend and father, well-beloved! Farewell.