A Letter

Ephraim Wales Bull

of Concord

February 12, 1843

To Henry Moore




Privately Printed at the Moorsfield Pref







Fifty-eight copies of this letter were printed in April, 1932,
the Moorsfield Prefs, Champlain, New York, being
its twentieth production.  No.





SOMETIME in 1902 Mr. Charles R. Moore, of Perrys Mills, New York, in going through a trunk containing papers of his uncle, Henry Moore, discovered a letter signed by Abraham Lincoln, dated Springfield, June 24, 1839, and addressed to the editor of the Chicago Amer­ican.1  The discovery of this letter, which is now in the McLellan Lincoln Collection at Brown University, led my father and me to examine the Moore papers carefully. We found nothing further bearing on Lincoln, but we did find several items of interest relating to Concord, Massachusetts, and to early Chicago; for Henry and his brothers, Reuben and George, had left their home in Concord during the '30s, and gone to Chicago, where they lived for several years.

The letter here printed was among his papers. Concerning the writer I quote from "Hawthorne and His Circle", by Julian Hawthorne: "Another neighbor of ours, hardly less known to fame, though in a widely different line of usefulness, makes a very distinct picture in my mind; this was Ephraim Wales Bull, the inventor of the Concord Grape. He was as eccentric as his name;

1.    William Stuart was the editor of the Chicago American. The let­ter is purely political. A pencilled endorsement requests Mr. Balestier to attend to it.


but he was a genuine and substantial man, and my father took a great liking to him, which was reciprocated. He was short and powerful, with long arms, and a big head covered with bushy hair and a jungle beard, from which looked out a pair of eyes singularly brilliant and pene­trating. He had brains to think with, as well as strong and skilful hands to work with. . . He often came over and sat with my father in the summer house on the hill, and there talked about politics, sociology (though under some other name, probably), morals, and human nature, with an occasional lecture on grape culture." Hawthorne's home adjoined Bull's 'Grapevine Cottage', on the Lexington Road.

Ephraim Wales Bull was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 4, 1806, and died on September 26, 1895. Although a gold-beater by trade, his reputation rested upon the results of his hobby—the raising and study of grapes.  He served in both Houses of the Massachusetts Legislature, and on the Board of Agriculture of that State.

Henry Moore, to whom this letter was written, was born in Sudbury, Mass., May 8, 1806. After studying in the Harvard Law School, he went to Chicago in 1833 or 1834 and practiced law for several years, part of the time in partnership with Edward G. Ryan.3 In August, 1837, because of ill-health, he left Chicago and went to Cuba, returning to his home in Concord in 1839. He died there September 14, 1844.

It is interesting to note that one of Henry Moore's brothers, Captain John Brooks Moore, was the originator of another celebrated grape—Moore's Early.

 2 Certificate of Judge Joseph Story, June 1, 1833.

3 Mms. statement of Henry Moore, made after his return to Concord.

I wish to express my gratitude for data concerning the Bull letter to Mrs. Gaylord Cummin of the Concord Antiquarian Society, to Miss Eleanor J. Conway of the Chicago Historical Society, and to Professor Alfred L. Diebolt of the State Normal School at Plattsburgh, N. Y.  I have used here but little of the information which their kindness brought forth, feeling, upon second thought, that the nature of the letter is such that it should not be treated too seriously.


Champlain, N. Y., February 28, 1932.





A Letter

Ephraim Wales Bull to Henry Moore

Concord, FebY 12, 1843

My dear Friend4

I am obliged to you for your kind letter of Jan. 23d and would have replied to it last week if I had not suf­fered with ague so that I was dull and stupid and did not think it fair to inflict upon you the more-than-usual­ stupidity of my brain at that time.

Your somewhat peculiar, I had almost said whimsical, view of a laughing professorship would not, in my opin­ion, be half so absurd as some of the (so called) philos­ophy of the present day— it would conduce to a more vigorous condition of body & mind and add I know not how much to the "sum of human happiness", this profound expression which is so ridden in our day and so convenient to anyone at a loss for an idea, or rather for an expression, comes to me just in season to enable me to escape from a too tedious analysis or review of this subject, which, much as it would chime with & gratify our friend Robinson's task, is not consonant enough to my present condition of mind for me to en­ter upon, though I will say I feel grateful to you for the successful effort you thought it worth while to make to dispel those indigo fancies of mine.

4 The letter is addressed : Henry Moore Esq Lowell Mass Kindness of Miss H Moore

Seriously I know that if darkness & gloom come over us, a tame submission to the circumstances only aggravates our difficulties. It is more philosophical—more brave and manly to "conquer circumstances" and "make our destiny," not submit to what seems to us to be our destiny, when adverse circumstances afflicted us. Hotspur, (I think) says, "Out of this nettle danger, will I pluck this flower safety", which means, I suppose, that one must take such advantage of collateral circum­stances as will neutralize the more dangerous one, nay even, through a sufficient energy enable one to conquer it. This, after all is the philosophy most consonant to my Spirit. I have conquered difficulty before now and please God I will do it again. The first step though—if one could get over that—but you must take it. Well, "c'est ne que le premier pas qui coute" say the French "it is only the first step which is difficult" and that is taken.

Your suggestion in the postscript of your letter, by a sort of mesmeric sympathy I suppose, must have been written about the same time the "idea" was em­bodied and became a living thing, and now I am in bankruptcy, I confess I feel a peace I did not feel be­fore—because I see that by this step I have removed a load from before my future progress, which would have most effectually trigged the wheels for me.

There will be one more first step, that is to say I am to begin. This benevolent law, like most of our relief laws, forgot the humble mechanic, and did not make any provision (by leaving his tools) by which he can go on and earn his living again—so that, if he is not helped into business by his friends, he is, in some sort a candidate for public support. However, it, the law; has done much good, and does me good, & "speak well of the bridge which carries you safe over" is as propel a motto for me as for anybody else. Only one cannot help saying of these laws, which they say are necessari­ly imperfect, as all human things must be, that for such imperfect things they are very dear.

I am sorry to feel obliged to dispute your proposi­tion that the devil never laughs, but a regard for truth and a desire to get at the precise fads of the case in g matter of so much importance, compels me to state, upon high authority, that of Revd Mr Pierce, then (1841) of the Normal School in Lexington, that the devil does laugh—yea and shake his sides with joy —where he hears of granting licences for selling rum for in­stance, or worse yet, when the good citizens of L refuse to pass some of Mr P's abolition resolutions, and in the latter case, (I quote now H. Dennis) the devil not only laughed but all the little devils in hell wagged their tails for joy. I do not mention these circumstance as detracting from your view of the philosophy of laugh­ing, quite the contrary, but only to correct an impor­tant fast which you had been so unfortunate as to misstate.

Your quotation from Hudibras, though ludicrous suggests to me, or rather, places in stronger light the folly we are guilty of in so occupying the heart and the head with the pursuit of wealth that but a poor cornet of the brain is permitted to the soul, and of the heart, to the affections; and only when this pursuit is found futile, and the load — the unnatural compression — is removed, do we, much to our surprise, find we have a heart full of resources in all kindly affections, and a soul fitted for higher pursuits, than mere money making.

You ask me if I know any thing about the electro magnetic gilding or silvering, or would like to. I should like to, for I do not now know anything about it. There is no difficulty in obtaining pure silver. It is done by a very simple chemical process which I shall be happy to describe to you if you desire it. I do it in the course of my business.

Mrs B’s miniature came safe to hand for which many thanks, she and Nancy send love to you and would be very glad to see you in Concord. I will certainly come to Lowell as soon as I can persuade any body to bring me. Meanwhile believe me

Truly Your friend & Servant

E. W. Bull

The bad writing (and spelling if any) I beg you would impute to a bad pen and, as you see, very poor paper, but (on the principle of the barber, who earned his shilling by being an hour drawing the tooth) do you not think I give good measure?

"Tomorrow is the day big with the fate of "Parmen­ter and Hoar. I perceive Anthony Wright is on hand to render his aid for the first, pray God he be disap­pointed, but I fear Squire Hoar cannot be elected, he is too good a man to suit a large portion of the voters, and of those who would like to have him chosen how many will stay at home. This staying at home through disgust is poor business for constituent parts of the Government. Politics are terribly debased, Legislation is run mad, Loco-focoism in the ascendant & has straight­way lost its wits, and is undoing what it has labored long to effect. Is this the beginning of the end, or are we to run wild still longer?

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