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THE CHARACTER OF EDWARD EVERETT. The Psalmist says, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow." The latter part of this sentence is not altogether true; at least, it is not without exceptions as numerous as the rule. To say nothing of the living, we who have witnessed the serene and beautiful old age of Quincy, protracted more than twenty years after threescore years and ten, will not admit that all of life beyond that limit is of necessity "labour and sorrow." But in these words there is so much of truth as this, that he who has lived to be threescore and ten years old should feel that he has had his fair share of life, and if any more years are dropped into his lap he must receive them as a gift not promised at his birth. And thus no man who dies after the age of seventy can be said to have died unseasonably or prematurely. But the shock with which the news of Mr. Everett's death fell upon the community was due to its unexpectedness as well as its suddenness. We knew that he was an old man, but we did not feel that he was such. There was nothing either in his aspect or his life that warned us of departure or reminded us of decay. His powers were so vigorous, his industry was so great, his sympathies were so active, his elocution so admirable, that he appeared before us as a man in the very prime of life, and when he died it was as if the sun had gone down at noon. The impression made by his death was the highest tribute that could be paid to the worth of his life.
In 1819, after an absence of nearly five years, Mr. Everett returned from Europe at the age of twenty-five, the most finished and accomplished man that had been seen in New England, and it will be generally admitted that he maintained this superiority to the last. From that year down to the hour of his death he was constantly before the public eye, and never without a marked and peculiar influence upon the community, especially upon students and scholars. You and I, Mr. President, are old enough to have come under the spell of the magician at that early period of his life when he presented the most attractive combination of graceful and blooming youth with mature intellectual power. The young man of to-day, familiar with that expression of gravity, almost of sadness, which his countenance has habitually worn of late, can hardly imagine what he then was, when his "bosom's lord" sat "lightly in his throne," when the winds of hope filled his sails, and his looks and movements were informed with
a spirit of morning freshness and vernal promise.
In the forty-five years which passed between his return home and his death, Mr. Everett's industry was untiring, and the amount of work he accomplished was immense. What he published would alone entitle him to the praise of a very industrious man, but this forms but a part of his labours. Of what has been called the master-vice of sloth he knew nothing. He was independent of the amusements and relaxations which most hard-working men interpose between their hours of toil. He was always in harness.
Some persons have regretted that he gave so much time to merely occasional productions, instead of devoting himself to some one great work; but without speculating upon the comparative value of what we have and what we might have had, it is enough to say that with his genius and temperament on the one hand, and our institutions and form of society on the other, it was a sort of necessity that his mind should have taken the direction that it did. For he was the child of his time, and was always in harmony with the spirit of the age and country in which his lot was cast. He was pre-eminently rich in the fruits of European culture; Greece, Rome, England, France, Italy, and Germany all helped by liberal contributions to swell his stores of intellectual wealth, but yet no man was ever more national in feel ing, more patriotic in motive and impulse, more thoroughly American in grain and fibre. Loving books as he did, he would yet have pined and languished if he had been doomed to live in the unsympathetic air of a great library. The presence, the comprehension, the sympathy of his kind were as necessary to him as his daily bread.
"Two words," says Macaulay, "form the key of the Baconian doctrine, Utility and Progress." I think these two words also go far to reveal and interpret Mr. Everett's motives and character. Not that he did not seek honourable distinction, not that he did not take pleasure in the applause which he had fairly earned; but stronger even than these propelling impulses was his desire to be of service to his fellow-men, to do good in his day and generation. He loved his country with a fervid love, and he loved his race with a generous and comprehensive philanthropy. He was always ready to work cheerfully in any direction when he thought he could do any good, though the labour might not be particularly congenial to his tastes, and would not add anything to his literary reputation. The themes which he handled, during his long life of intellectual action, were very various, they were treated
with great affluence of learning, singular beauty of illustration, and elaborate and exquisite harmony of style, but always in such a way as to bear practical fruit, and contribute to the advancement of society and the elevation of humanity.
So, too, Mr. Everett was a sincere and consistent friend of progress. He was, it is true, conservative in his instincts and convictions; I mean in a large and liberal, and not in a narrow and technical sense. But that he was an extreme conservative, or that he valued an institution simply because it was old, is not only not true, but, I think, the reverse of truth. He had a distaste to extreme views of any kind, and, by the constitution of his mind, was disposed to take that middle ground which partisan zeal is prone to identify with timidity or indifference. But he was a man of generous impulses and large sympathies. No one was more quick to recognize true progress, and greet it with a more hospitable welcome. No man of his age would have more readily and heartily acknowledged the many points in which the world has advanced since he was young.
It would not be seasonable here to dwell upon Mr. Everett's public or political career, but I may be permitted to add that I think he had genuine faith in the institutions of his country, which did not grow fainter as he grew older. He believed in man's capacity for self-government, and had confidence in popular instincts. He was fastidious in his social tastes, but not aristocratic: that is, if he preferred one man to another it was for essential and not adventitious qualities,-for what they were, and not for what they had. He was uniformly kind to the young, and always prompt to recognize and encourage merit in a young person.
Mr. Everett, if not the founder of the school of American deliberative eloquence, was its most brilliant representative. In his orations and occasional discourses will be found his best title to remembrance, and by them his name will surely be transmitted to future generations. In judging of them, we must bear in mind that the aim of the deliberative orator is to treat a subject in such a way as to secure and fix the attention of a popular audience, and this aim Mr. Everett never lost sight of. If it be said that his discourses are not marked by originality of construction or philosophical depth of thought, it may be replied that had they been so, they would have been less attractive to his hearers. They are remarkable for a combination of qualities rarely, if ever before, so happily blended, and especially for the grace, skill, and tact with which the resources of the widest cultivation are so used
as to instruct the common mind and touch the common heart. For whatever were the subject, Mr. Everett always took his audience along with him from first to last. He never soared or wandered out of their sight.
I need not dwell upon the singular beauty and finish of his elocution. Those who have heard him speak will need no descrip tion of the peculiar charm and grace of his manner, and no description will give any adequate impression of it to those who never heard him. It was a manner easily caricatured, but not easily imitated. His power over an audience remained unimpaired to the last. At the age of seventy he spoke with all the animation of youth, and easily filled the largest hall with that rich and flexible voice, the tones of which time had hardly touched. His organization was delicate and refined, his temperament sensitive and sympathetic. The opinion of those whom he loved and esteemed was weighty with him. Praise was ever cordial to him, and more necessary than to most men who had achieved such high and assured distinction. Doubtful as the statement may seem to those who knew him but slightly, or only saw him on the platform with his "robes and singing garlands" about him, he was to the last a modest and self-distrustful man. He never appeared in public without a slight flutter of apprehension lest he should fall short of that standard which he had created for himself. His want of self-confidence, and, in later years, his want of animal spirits, sometimes produced a coldness of manner, which, by superficial observers, was set down to coldness of heart, but most unjustly.
His nature was courteous, gentle, and sweet. Few men were ever more worthy than he to wear "the grand old name of gentleman." His manners were graceful, more scholarly than is usual with men who had been so much in public life as he, and sometimes covered with a delicate veil of reserve. Conflict and contest were distasteful to him, and it was his disposition to follow the things that make for peace. He had a true respect for the intellectual rights of others, and it was no fault of his if he ever lost a friend through difference of opinion.
Permit me to turn for a moment to Mr. Everett's public life for an illustration of his character. In forensic contests, sarcasm and invective are formidable and frequent weapons. The House of Commons quailed before the younger Pitt's terrible powers of sarcasm. An eminent living statesman and orator of Great Britain is remarkable for both these qualities. But neither invective nor sarcasm is to be found in Mr. Everett's speeches. I think this absence is to be
ascribed not to an intellectual want but to a moral grace.
Great men, public men, have also their inner and private life, and sometimes this must be thrown by the honest painter into shadow. But in Mr. Everett's case there was no need of this, for his private life was spotless. In conduct and conversation he always conformed to the highest standard which public opinion exacts of the members of that profession to which he originally belonged. As a brother, husband, father, and friend, there was no duty that he did not discharge, no call that he did not obey. He was generous in giving, and equally generous in sacrificing. Where he was most known he was best loved. He was wholly free from that exacting temper in small things which men, eminent and otherwise estimable, sometimes fall into. His daily life was made beautiful by a pervading spirit of thoughtful consideration for those who stood nearest to him. His household manners were delightful, and his household discourse was brightened by a lambent play of wit and humour; qualities which he possessed in no common measure, though they were rarely displayed before the public. Could the innermost circle of Mr. Everett's life be revealed to the general eye, it could not fail to deepen the sense of bereavement which his death has awakened, and to increase the reverence with which his memory is and will be cherished. No man ever bore his faculties and his eminence more meekly than he. He never declined the lowly and commonplace duties of life. He was always approachable and accessible. constant and various interruptions to which he was exposed by the innumerable calls made upon his time and thoughts were borne by him with singular patience and sweetness. His industry was as methodical as it was uniform. However busy he might be, he could always find time for any service which a friend required at his hands. He was scrupulously faithful and exact in small things. He never broke an appointment or a promise. His splendid powers worked with all the regularity and precision of the most nicely adjusted machinery. If he had undertaken to have a discourse, a report, an article, ready at a certain time, it might be depended upon as surely as the rising of the
I feel that I have hardly touched upon the remarkable qualities of Mr. Everett's mind and character, and yet I have occupied as much of your time as is becoming. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, in A Memorial of Edward Everett from the City of Boston, Bost., 1865, 8vo, 138-142.
We cannot linger in the beautiful creations of inventive genius, or pursue the splendid discoveries of modern science, without a new sense of the capacities and dignity of human nature, which naturally leads to a sterner self-respect, to manlier resolves, and higher aspirations. We cannot read the ways of God to man as revealed in the history of nations, of sublime virtues as exem plified in the lives of great and good men, without falling into that mood of thoughtful admiration, which, though it be but a transient glow, is a purifying and elevating influence while it lasts. The study of history is especially valuable as an antidote to selfexaggeration. It teaches lessons of humility, patience, and submission. When we read of realms smitten with the scourge of famine or pestilence, or strewn with the bloody ashes of war; of grass growing in the streets of great cities; of ships rotting at the wharves; of fathers burying their sons; of strong men begging their bread; of fields untilled, and silent workshops, and despairing countenances, we hear a voice of rebuke to our own clamorous sorrows and peevish complaints. We learn that pain and suffering and disappointment are a part of God's providence, and that no contract was ever yet made with man by which virtue should secure to him temporal happiness.
In books, be it remembered, we have the best products of the best minds. We should any of us esteem it a great privilege to pass an evening with Shakespeare or Bacon, were such a thing possible. But were we admitted to the presence of one of these il lustrious men, we might find him touched with infirmity, or oppressed with weariness, or darkened with the shadow of a recent trouble, or absorbed by intrusive and tyrannous thoughts. To us the oracle might be dumb, and the light eclipsed. But when we take down one of their volumes, we run no such risk. Here we have their best thoughts embalmed in their best words: immortal flowers of poetry, wet with Castalian dews, and the golden fruit of wisdom that had long ripened on the bough before it was gathered. Here we find the growth of the choicest seasons of the mind, when mortal cares were forgotten, and mortal weaknesses were subdued; and the soul, stripped of its vanities, and its passions, lay bare to the finest effluences of truth and beauty. We may be sure that Shakespeare never outtalked his Hamlet, nor Bacon his Essays. Great writers are indeed best known through their books. How little, for instance, do we know of the life of Shakespeare; but how much do we know of him!...
For the knowledge that comes from books, I would claim no more than it is fairly entitled to. I am well aware that there is no inevitable connection between intellectual cultivation, on the one hand, and individual virtue or social well-being, on the other. "The tree of knowledge is not the tree of life." I admit that genius and learning are sometimes found in combination with gross vices, and not unfrequently with contemptible weaknesses; and that a community at once cultivated and corrupt is no impossible monster. But it is no over-statement to say that, other things being equal, the man who has the greatest amount of intellectual resources is in the least danger from inferior temptations,—if for no other reason, because he has fewer idle moments. The ruin of most men dates from some vacant hour. Occupation is the armour of the soul; and the train of Idleness is borne up by all the vices. I remember a satirical poem, in which the Devil is represented as fishing for men, and adapting his baits to the taste and temperament of his prey; but the idler, he said, pleased him most, because he bit the naked hook. To a young man away from home, friendless and forlorn in a great city, the hours of peril are those between sunset and bedtime; for the moon and stars see more of evil in a single hour than the sun in his whole day's circuit. The poet's visions of evening are all compact of tender and soothing images. It brings the wanderer to his home, the child to his mother's arms, the ox to his stall, and the weary labourer to his rest. But to the gentle-hearted youth who is thrown upon the rocks of a pitiless city, and stands "homeless amid a thousand homes," the approach of evening brings with it an aching sense of loneliness and desolation, which comes down upon the spirit like darkness upon the earth. In this mood his best impulses become a snare to him; and he is led astray because he is social, affectionate, sympathetic, and warm-hearted. If there be a young man thus circumstanced within the sound of my voice, let me say to hini, that books are the friends of the friendless, and that a library is the home of the homeless. A taste for reading will always carry you into the best possible company, and enable you to converse with men who will instruct you by their wisdom, and charm you by their wit; who will soothe you when fretted, refresh you when weary, counsel you when perplexed, and sympathize with you at all times. Evil spirits in the Middle Ages were exorcised and driven away by bell, book, and candle: you want but two of these agents, the book and the candle.
Address before the Mercantile Library As
ROBERT CHARLES WIN-
a descendant in the sixth generation of John Winthrop (1587-1649), Governor of Massachusetts, a grandson of Sir John Temple, and great-grandson of Governor James Bowdoin, was born in Boston, 1809, graduated at Harvard University, 1828, studied law with Daniel Webster, 1828-31, United States Senator, 1850-51. He is a man of high mark in every respect.
Addresses and Speeches on various occasions, Bost., 3 vols. r. 8vo: vol. i., 1853, ii., 1867, iii., 1878; Life and Letters of John Winthrop, 1630-1649, Bost., 1867, 8vo.
For his minor publications, see Allibone's Critical Dictionary of English Literature, iii. 2797.
"In his occasional addresses he displays not only that fulness of knowledge and learning belonging to his immediate theme, which places him on the platform with the best-instructed orators of the day, but all those nameless graces of speech, that versatility and playfulness of fancy, that prompt and felicitous appropriation of any casual topic or incident of the moment, that current and catching rather to be speaking with them and for them insympathy with his audience,-so that he seems stead of to them,-which are the characteristics of the higher order of speech in England, but which are so rare in this country that I can hardly recall the name of any living orator who can hold a comparison with him."-HUGH BLAIR GRIGSBY,
LL.D., TO S. AUSTIN ALLIBONE, May 11, 1866 (ubi supra).
CHRISTIANITY THE GREAT REMEDY.
The ancient metropolis of Syria has secured for itself a manifold celebrity on the pages of history. It has been celebrated as the splendid residence of the Syrian kings, and afterwards as the luxurious capital of the Asiatic Provinces of the Roman Empire. It has been celebrated for its men of letters, and its cultivation of learning. It has been celebrated for the magnificence of the edifices within its walls, and for the romantic beauty of its suburban groves and fountains. The circling sun shone nowhere upon more majestic productions of human art, than when it gilded, with its rising or its setting beams, the sumptuous symbols of its own deluded worshippers, in the gorgeous temple of Daphne and the gigantic statue of Apollo, which were the pride and boast of that farfamed capital; while it was from one of the humble hermitages which were embosomed in its exquisite environs, that the sainted Chrysostom poured forth some of those poetical and passionate raptures on the beauties and sublimities of nature, which would alone have won for him the title of "The golden-mouthed." At one time, we are told,
it ranked third on the list of the great cities of the world,-next only after Rome and Alexandria, and hardly inferior to the latter of the two, at least, in size and splendour. It acquired a severer and sadder renown in more recent, though still remote history, as having been doomed to undergo vicissitudes and catastrophies of the most disastrous and deplorable character: now sacked and pillaged by the Persians, now captured by the Saracens, and now besieged by the Crusaders; a prey, at one moment, to the ravages of fire, at another to the devastations of an earthquake, which is said to have destroyed no less than two hundred and fifty thousand lives in a single hour. Its name has thus become associated with so many historical lights and shadows,-with so much of alternate grandeur and gloom,-that there is, perhaps, but little likelihood of its ever being wholly lost sight of by any student of antiquity. Yet it is not too much to say, that one little fact, for which the Bible is the sole and all-sufficient authority, will fix that name in the memory, and rivet it in the affectionate regard of mankind, when all else associated with it is forgotten. Yes: when its palaces and its temples, its fountains and its groves, its works of art and its men of learning, when Persian and Saracen and Crusader, who successively spoiled it, and the flames and the earthquake which devoured and desolated it, shall have utterly faded from all human recollection or record, the little fact-the great fact, let me rather say-will still be remembered, and remembered with an interest and a vividness which no time can ever efface or diminish,—that "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch; that there the name of Christ given at the outset, perhaps, as a nickname and a by-word, but gladly and fearlessly accepted and adopted, in the face of mockery, in the face of martyrdom, by delicate youth and maiden tenderness, as well as by mature or veteran manhood-first became the distinctive designation of the faithful followers of the Messiah.
That record must, of course, stand alone, for ever, on the historic page. Christianity will never begin again. Christ has lived and died once for all, and will come no more upon these earthly scenes, until he comes again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. But should the numerous Associations and Unions which have recently sprung into existence as from a common impulse in both hemispheres,-bearing a common name, composed of congenial elements, and organized for the same great and glorious ends with that now before me, should they go on zealously and successfully in the noble work which they |
have undertaken,-should they even fulfil but one-half the high hopes and fond expectations which their progress thus far has authorized and encouraged,-it may be, it may be, that the city from which they all took their first example and origin, if it can then be identified,-whether it be London or New York,-Liverpool, Edinburgh, or Boston,-Berlin, Geneva, or Richmond,will have no prouder or loftier title to the gratitude of man or to the blessing of God, than that there was set on foot the first Young Men's Christian Association,—that there the young men of the nineteenth century, by a concerted movement, and in so considerable companies, first professed and called themselves Christians. . .
Reflect, my friends, for an instant, what a spectacle almost any great city would present, at almost any single moment of its existence, to a person who had the power to penetrate within its recesses and privacies, and to behold at a glance all that was going on by day or by night within its limits! Nay, reflect, if you have the courage to do so, what a spectacle such a city actually does present to that all-seeing Eye, before which every scene of immorality and crime is daguerreotyped with unfailing accuracy and minuteness,-just as it occurs,-just as it occurs,―no matter how close may be the veil of mystery in which it is involved to human sight, or how secret the chambers of iniquity within which it is transacted! What a panorama must be ever moving before that Eye! Oh, if there could be a more prevailing and pervading sense, that although no human agency or visible machinery be at work, the picture of our individual lives is at every instant in process of being portrayed and copied,-every word, act, thought, motive, indelibly delineated, with a fulness and a fidelity of which even the marvellous exactness of photograph or stereoscope affords but a faint illustration; if the great ideas of Omniscience and Omnipresence, which are suffered to play so loosely about the region of our imaginations, and of which these modern inventions-the daguerreotype, with the instantaneous action and unerring accuracy of its viewless pencil,-the Electric Ocean Telegraph, with its single flash, bounding unquenched through a thousand leagues of fathomless floods-have done so much to quicken our feeble conceptions; if, I say, these great ideas of Omniscience and Omnipresence could now and then be brought to a focus, and flashed in, with the full force of their searching and scorching rays, upon the inmost soul of some great city, like Paris or London,-to come no nearer home,-and of those who dwell in it,-what swarms of sins, what troops of