Dr. Samuel W. Leland

The Cartersville American
Cartersville, Georgia
August 12, 1884, page 2
Transcribed by:  

Dr. Samuel W. Leland is no More!
After a Brief Illness He Passes Away –A Great and Good Man Gone.

Just as we go to press the sad news is brought to us that Dr. Samuel W. Leland is no more. His spirit has winged its everlasting flight. Cold clay is all that now remains. Last Tuesday morning Dr. Leland was in our midst. On that day the Bartow county democrats held a mass-meeting at the court house, and the doctor was elected chairman. He was looking quite feeble, still no one in that meeting thought that he would be taken from us so soon. His presiding was graceful and dignified, his sallies of wit and flashes of humor were characteristic of the man.

On last Tuesday night he took his bed to rise not again. He has been afflicted for a number of years with asthma, from which disease he has suffered no little. All that medical skill could do, was done. At times his suffering was alleviated, but he gradually sank until the chords that bound the body and soul together were sundered. Last night he paid the great debt that, sooner or later, all must pay. His death has cast a shadow over our little city, to which the news was brought this morning. His many warm friends all over Bartow county, where he has lived for nearly thirty years, as well as his hosts of friends all over the entire state, will receive the tidings with sorrowful sadness. Dr. Leland was a man of rare parts. He was a natural humorist of a high order, a genial, cultured gentleman, a good citizen, at all times an agreeable companion, and a consistent member of the Presbyterian church. His heart was ever in the right place, and his deeds of kindness and loving sympathy will be remembered long after his body has crumbled into dust.

His funeral services will be held this afternoon at the Cartersville cemetery, where he will be buried at 4 o’clock.


August 19, 1884
Page 2.

The Late Dr. Leland.
An Appreciative Sketch From the Pen of an Old Classmate.

Mr. Editor:
In yesterday’s Constitution I see the sad announcement of the death of Dr. Samuel W. Leland, of Cartersville, and I feel it a duty to see that something more than a passing tribute is paid to the memory and character of my classmate and friend.

Dr. Leland was a Carolinian, having been born in Columbia, S. C., a son of the Rev. Aaron W. Leland, D. D., so long a distinguished professor in the Presbyterian theological seminary, of that city. The father had been originally educated, in his Massachusetts home, for the stage, but being happily converted, he became a Presbyterian minister, and was called to preach in South Carolina, long ere divorce or fanaticism, in any form, had fallen with their blight upon New England society.

The mother of Dr. S. W. Leland, one of the most gentle and lovable women of her time, I knew her well, was the daughter of Mr. Andrew Hibbin, a wealthy planter of the olden time, in Christ Church Parish, near Charleston.

Physically and mentally my friend resembled his New England father, but all his tastes, feelings and sympathies, his whole moral nature, seemed to be derived from his mother.  He was thoroughly southern.  His hatred of a typical, malicious freedom shrieker was something phenomenal.  His distinguished father, too, lived and died in Columbia as completely weaned from his New England nurture as from the flesh pots of Egypt.

Many thought my friend eccentric; this was the light in which he was viewed by nine-tenths of those who had daily intercourses with him.  Some knew him better.  He was, indeed, remarkable – a strikingly picturesque character – but he was thus distinguished because of something higher and deeper than mere eccentricity.  He was possessed of attributes that lifted him so far above the selfish ambition and the smooth arts of the mere social or political intriguer, that he appeared to act strangely, both in manner and expression.  He was a man to be observed and listened to in whatever company he went; a tall, commanding figure and a face and mien strikingly Roman, adding no little to his power of impressing others.

Had the love of personal popularity or a desire to shine in social life been his ambition, he would have been assiduous in the petty tact and devices by which thousands of weaker men are every day lifted to such favors.  Had he fixed his eye upon political preferment, solely for preferment’s sake, with no thought of the means, honorable or ignoble, by which he could be promoted, he would certainly have cultivated, as he had ample powers to do, the plausible manner and supple address of the mere politician.  He did neither, because he cared nothing for the applause of the fickle crowd and had too much self-respect to become a hot-house solicitor for public honors.  Hence his failures to obtain offices that were won by men not having one tithe of his ability or desert.

His knowledge of men was extraordinary and his discernment of character well nigh infallible.  He surpassed, in this respect, any man I ever knew.  He seemed to take in, at a glance, all that was in a man; and this was one of the keys to that daring invective, and rapid decision with which he sometimes assailed men to the amazement of his friends.

Often on such occasions, I have said to him, “Why, Leland, were you not afraid to talk so to that man?”  “Not at all,” would be the quiet reply, “I knew to whom I was talking; there was nothing dangerous in him.”  His conversational power was seldom equaled; rich in humor, sparkling with wit, and striking in anecdote, he occupied the chair in every crowd, was the main hope of every festive occasion.  Not one of these gifts, and no success he ever achieved in life came from the study of books – of this he was incapable.  I was at his side in all of his literary course in South Carolina college and in his attendance on medical lectures in Charleston, and I never knew him to study two consecutive half hours in it all.  The philosophers may theorize as they please about education, but there are men, and not a few, who owe nothing to books; and these are the real, self-made men.

The restraints of study and of precise scientific methods would be to them as irksome as they would be hurtful.  Shakespeare would have been enfeebled, if not ruined, for his illustrious destiny by a rigid scientific course in the schools.  The celebrated Dr, Radcliff, of London, when at the zenith of his famous practice was asked by a young man what he should read to become a physician.  “read Don Quixote, sir,” replied the greatest observer of his time.

To such men nature and mankind are the only possible school, and deeply do they drink of its fountains.  This was the school in which my friend studied, and whence he derived all his powers, whether of general knowledge or of practical ability.  He was too deserving not to detect both the merit and the meanness of men around him, and far too honest and brave not to give utterance, when proper, to what he had discovered.  Such a man could never be a political success in America, however well he might succeed in becoming a village oracle.  He had friends who cherished the highest admiration for his rare powers of mind and independence of thought, but on the other hand, as must ever be with such men, there was a mixed, numerous crowd, who stood ready to imbrue their hands in the blood of his political death.  He was not available for the purposes of ringleaders, and was too out-spoken and independent to be understood or appreciated by the many.  If he had been a trickster and a meaner man, he would have been politically great – the wonder of an hour.  He could not be a village oracle, supplying the force and brains by which inferior, duller men were hoisted to places of power and trust.  The late speech of my friend before the Georgia Agricultural Association was a phenomenal effort.  It took many by surprise, for it has the ring and gist of genuine power.  It is characteristic of the man. But the real sources of the energy and beauty of that speech can be understood only by those who are acquainted with his early history and home education.  To such a reader it presents three points of interesting study, viz:  His own unique powers of observation, his early Bible training in a home of exalted Christian culture, and lastly, the life-long inspiration from the influence of his mother.  From the first come the wonderful accuracy, precision, and the extensive knowledge of men and facts the speech displays.  From the second, its honest truthfulness and charming ease and simplicity of expression, and from the third comes the noble appreciation which the author so admirably expresses for the character and influence of southern womanhood.  I know no other man who, on bits of waste paper and amid the whirr and noise of a little country tub-mill, could have composed such a speech.  Many years before his death his learned father presented his entire private library to the Theological Seminary at Columbia, retaining for himself only a Bible, which, thence forward, was scarcely ever out of his hands during his waking hours.  He read no other book and no newspaper or periodical.  I have often seen him at the hour of family prayer clasp his hands across his breast, close his eyes and repeat with a richness of voice that he only possessed, a hymn and a long chapter from the Bible wholly from memory. Such were the influences that blest the home life of my gifted friend.

Soon after all was lost in the struggle for southern independence, he removed with his wife and daughter to Georgia, from Abbeville county S. C. where he had married a second time, and made his home near Cartersville.  Here in quiet happiness and contentment, being neither rich nor poor, and envying no man either of his honors or wealth, he spent the last days of his life.  The people of Cartersville have lost in his death a citizen or rare public spirit, a generous neighbor and accomplished gentleman of the old school, a friend of the poor and helpless, and the State at large one of the noblest and most gifted of her adopted sons.

In conversational power, my friend was more gifted and entertaining than Babbington Macaulay; for the latter could only talk, he could never listen, and he had no humor.  In his wonderful knowledge of men, and of human life, he approximated what we read and enjoy so much in Shakespeare; and in his flow of humor, with keen sarcasm and incisive wit, often intermingling, we are reminded of the cutting invective and pungent brilliancy of Dean Swift.  In all the relations of life, son, brother, husband, father and friend, he was without reproach.  His veneration for the memory of his mother was an inspiration; no wonder, then, his devotion to his excellent wife, who survives him, and who was every way worthy of his love. She was a Miss Reynolds, of Greenwood, S. C., a scion of the most sterling and most respectable Scotch family of McLellans, of Abbeville county.

Atlanta, August 14.  J. H. Logan.


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