Secretary, Metropolitan Trust Company
Born 5 March 1850 in Geneva, New York
Died 21 May 1924 in Geneva, New York
Buried Glenwood Cemetery, Geneva, New York
Elected 6 June 1891 at age forty-one
If there were any need of proof that a lifetime spent in active business pursuits is entirely consistent with development of high literary scholarship, the career of Beverly Chew would prove it. During fifteen years a Wall Street broker and for the three subsequent decades an officer in a New York trust company of which he was long the first vice-president, the other side of his life disclosed him not only as one of the most successful book-collectors of old English writers but as an authority of world-wide repute on the by-paths of English literature. His library included Shakespeare’s four first folios, an original Beaumont and Fletcher and a very unusual folio collection of Ben Jonson, first editions of Robert Herrick and Matthew Prior, of Gray’s Elegy, Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe, not to mention a first-edition title-page of Paradise Lost and a long list of Nineteenth century first editions.
Sometimes collectors interest themselves only in the fact that an acquisition is curious or rare; a book is only a bound volume with a more or less unusual date or pedigree; the collection might equally have been coins or postage-stamps. But Chew’s mind and memory were infused with the writers and writings on his shelves. His knowledge even of the obscure poets and dramatists of two or three centuries ago was described by all those who matched recollections with him as amazing, though his acquaintance with his subject was never obtruded in his quiet talk unless the conversation took that turn. It did not always do so; for Chew had also a fund of humor which played readily about the topics of every-day life. Probably, indeed, his fellow-Centurions will best remember him as sustaining his own part in the exchange of convivial epigram with Greene on his right hand and Dr. Austin Flint on his left, at the head of the big dining-table in the Club’s older days.
Alexander Dana Noyes
1925 Century Association Yearbook