1760 Early Printing of James Lovell’s Funeral Oration for Harvard’s Henry Flynt, Read at Holden Chapel

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On offer is the early 1760 printing of Oratio in funere viri venerabilis Henrici Flyntij [Oration at the funeral of the venerable Henry Flynt]. Written by Jacobo [James] Lovell (1737-1814) and read at Flynt’s (1675-1760) funeral, which took place at the Holden Chapel on the Harvard University campus, this special artifact appears to have been discounted from a larger publication. It was printed in Boston by Z. Fowle and S. Draper. SEE BIO NOTES ON FLYNT AND LOVELL AT THE END OF THE LISTING.

Flynt was a graduate and beloved tutor at Harvard College, and Lovell was an instructor at Boston Latin School, who had graduated from Harvard. Lovell was an up-and-coming orator who would go on to be selected to give the first ever commemorative speech about the Boston Massacre in 1771. His words about Flynt are warm, comforting and deeply respectful. An excerpt follows:

Tandem felix senex, placidus et in pace compositus, vivos intermisi mortales. Factis vitae laboribus, Vota mea componam, Tua nos feres plena Tuae contumaciae, Suscipientes praeconia Fidelis tui servuli. Quam suavissimi unguenti pretiosissimi odoris undique se effundunt; tam jucunda eft memoria juftorum, tam blande recordantium revirescit mentes. En! Attendite Harvardiani, et optimorum virorum, qui frequentes convenerunt, recolite coronam, qui venerandi viri memoriam duxerunt et debitos honores persolverunt, cuius reliquiae in his domibus lugubre ornatae sepultae sunt, praeesse. praesidentiam…”

[Translation: At last, a happy old man, calm and composed in peace, I left the living mortals. Done with the labors of life, I will compose my vows, yours, You will bear us full of your defiance, Accepting the praises of your faithful servant. How pleasant the odor of the most precious ointment they diffuse on every side; so pleasant is the memory of couples, so smoothly it revives the minds of those who remember it. En! Attend the Harvardians, and recall the crown of the best men, who have assembled in great numbers, who have married and paid their due honors to the memory of the venerable man, whose relics are buried in these mournfully decorated houses, to preside over the presidency…]

While it was printed in 1760, this oration is difficult to find in its early printing. Harvard University holds Lovell’s personal diary, which contains this oration in his hand, as well as a transcription and translation of this oration, completed years later. The artistry of the writing and impressive 18th century printing would appeal to any collector, and this would be a valuable addition to the collection of any Boston or Harvard historian. 


Henry Flynt (1675-1760) was the second son of Rev. Josiah and Esther (Willett) Flynt. He graduated from Harvard College in 1693 and worked there as a tutor from 1699-1754. He was a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation from 1700-1760, acting in the roles of Secretary to the Board of Overseers and President during his tenure. He never married. Flynt was buried in the Old Burying Ground, Cambridge, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. 

James Lovell (1737-1814) was born to John Lovell, an instructor at Boston Latin School. James graduated from Harvard and worked as a teacher under his father. He became a well-known orator, and in 1771 he was invited to give an oration on the Boston Massacre. James was arrested for spying in 1775 and was jailed first in Boston and later in Halifax before he was exchanged for Colonel Philip Skene in 1776. He became a congressman and served from 1777-1782. He was the cousin of John Adams and was heavily involved in many committees while in congress. He resigned congress after a scandal related to letters to Abigail Adams and another affair. After returning to Boston he became a tax and customs collector, later a naval officer. His son was also named James Lovell. 

The oration is four pages plus a cover page for a total of five pages of printed text. It measures approximately 4-1/2 x 7-3/4 in. It bears expected age toning but is otherwise in excellent condition given its age. There are small marks where it appears the oration was removed from a larger volume. The oration is unbound. Overall VG. 

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