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be silenced. Still more praise of a similar sort: at a fourth of July dinner at Walterborough, in South Carolina, this sentiment was proposed and responded to with nine cheers, – “ May we never want a democrat to trip up the heels of a federalist, or a hangman to prepare a halter for John Quincy Adams.” Considering what he had done and whence those rewards proceeded, that was honor enough for a yet greater man.
Let me turn to things more grateful. Mr. Adams, through lack of genial qualities, had few personal friends, yet from good men throughout the North there went up a hearty thanksgiving for his manly independence, and prayers for his success. Brave men forgot their old prejudices, forgot the ** embargo,” forgot the “Hartford convention,” forgot all the hard things which he had ever said, forgot his words in the Senate, forgot their disappointments, and said - For this our hearts shall honor thee, thou brave old man ! In 1813, when, for the first time, he visited the West, to assist at the foundation of a scientific institution, all the West rose up to do him reverence. He did not go out to seek honors, they came to seek him. It was the movement of a noble people, feeling a noble presence about them no less than within. When Cicero, the only great man whom Rome never feared, returned from his exile, all Italy rose up and went out to meet him ; so did the North and the West welcome this champion of freedom, this venerable old man. They came not to honor one who had been a president, but one who was a Man. That alone, said Mr. Adams, with tears of joy and grief filling his eyes, was reward enough for all that he had done, suffered, or undertaken. Yes, it was too much ; too much for one man as the reward of one life!
You all remember the last time he was at any public meeting in this city. A man had been kidnapped in Boston, kidnapped at noon-day,“ on the high road between Faneuil Hall and old Quincy,” and carried off to be a slave! New England hands had seized their brother, sold him into bondage for ever, and his children after him. In the presence of Slavery, as of arms, the laws are silent, - not always men. Then it appears who are men, who not! A meeting was called to talk the matter over, in a plain way, and look in one another's faces. Who was fit to preside in such a case ? That old man sat in the chair in Faneuil Hall; above him was the image of his father, and his own; around him were Hancock and the other Adams -- Washington, greatest of all; before him were the men and women of Boston, met to consider the wrongs done to a miserable negro slave; the roof of the old Cradle of Liberty spanned over them all. Forty years before, a young man and a senator, he had taken the chair at a meeting called to consult on the wrong done to American seamen, violently impressed by the British from an American ship of war the unlucky Chesapeake; some of you remember that event. Now, an old man, clothed with half a century of honors, he sits in the same hall, to preside over a meeting to consider the outrage done to a single slave ; a greater outrage — alas, not done by a hostile, not by an alien hand! One was the first meeting of citizens he ever presided over, the other was the last ; both for the same object -- the defence of the eternal right.
But I would not weary you.
IIis death was noble; fit ending for such a life. He was an old man, the last that had held a diplomatic office under Washington. He had uttered his oracles; had done his work. The highest honors of the nation he had worthily worn; but, as his townsmen tell us, caring little for the president, and much for the man, that was very little in comparison with his character. The good and ill of the human cup he had tasted, and plentifully, too, as son, husband, father. He had borne his testimony for freedom and the rights of mankind ; he had stood in Congress almost alone; with a few gallant men had gone down to the battlefield, and if victory escaped him, it was because night came on.
He saw others enter the field in good heart, to stand in the imminent deadly breach; he lived long enough for his own welfare, for his own ambition ; long enough to see the seal broken, — and then, this aged Simeon, joyful in the consolation, bowed his head and went home in peace. His feet were not hurt with fetters; he died with his armor on; died like a Senator in the capitol of the nation; died like an American, in the service of his country ; died like a Christian, full of immortality ; died like a man, fearless and free!
You will ask what was the secret of his strength ; whence did he gain such power to stand erect where others so often cringed and crouched low to the ground ? ”T is plain to see: he looked beyond Time, beyond men ; looked to the eternal God, and fearing him forgot all other fear. Some of his failings he knew to be such, and struggled with them though he
did not overcome. A man, perhaps not over modest, once asked him what he most of all lamented in his life, and he replied, My impetuous temper and vituperative speech; that I have not always returned good for evil, but in the madness of my blood have said things that I am ashamed of before my God! As the world goes, it needed some greatness to say that.
When he was a boy, his mother, a still woman, and capable, deep-hearted, and pious, took great pains with his culture; most of all with his religious culture. When, at the age of ten, he was about to leave home for years of absence in another land, she took him aside to warn him of temptations which he could not then understand. She bade him remember Relig- . ion and his God-his secret, silent prayer. Often in his day there came the earthquake of party strife ; the fire, the storm, and the whirlwind of passion; he listened — and God was not there ; but there came, too, the remembrance of his mother's whispered words ; God came in that memory, and earthquake and storm, the fire and the whirlwind were powerless, at last, before that still small voice. Beautifully did she write to her boy of ten, “Great learning and superior abilities will be of little value . . . unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity, are added to them. Remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and your actions." are to me," says this more than Spartan, this Christian mother, “Dear as you are to me, I would much rather
should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or that any untimely death cross you in your infant years, than see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child. Let your observations and comparisons produce in your mind an abhorrence of domination and power — the parents of slavery, ignorance, and barbarism. May you be led to an imitation of that disinterested patriotism and that noble love of your country, which will teach you to despise wealth, titles, pomp, and equipage, as mere external advantages, which cannot add to the internal excellence of your mind, or compensate for the want of integrity and virtue.”
She tells him in a letter, that her father, a plain New England clergyman, of Braintree, who had just died, “left you a legacy more valuable than gold or silver; he left you his blessing, and his prayers that you might become a useful citizen, a guardian of the Laws, Liberty, and Religion of your country. .
Lay this bequest up
66 Dear as you
in your memory and practise upon it; believe me, you will find it å treasure that neither moth nor rust can destroy.”
If a child have such a mother, there is no wonder why he stood fearless, and bore a charmed life which no opposition could tame down. I wonder more that one so born and by such a mother bred, could even once bend a servile knee; could ever indulge that fierce and dreadful hate; could ever stoop to sully those hands which hers had joined in prayer. It ill accords with teachings like her own. I wonder that he could ever have refused to " deliberate.” Religion is a quality that makes a man independent; disappointment will not render such an one sour, nor oppression drive him mad, nor elevation bewilder; power will not dazzle, nor gold corrupt; no threat can silence and no fear subdue.
There are men enough born with greater abilities than Mr. Adams, men enough in New England, in all the walks of man. But how many are there in political life who use their gifts so diligently, with such conscience, such fearless deference to God ? — nay, tell us ONE. I have not spared his faults; I am no eulogist, to paint a man with undiscriminating praise. Let his follies warn us, while his virtues guide. But look on all his faults, and then compare him with our “ famous men” of the North or the South ; with the great whigs or the great democrats. Ask which was the purest man, the most patriotic, the most honest; which did his nation the smallest harm and the greatest good; which for his country and his kind denied himself the most? Shall I examine their lives, public and private, strip them bare and lay them down beside his life, and ask which, after all, has the least of blemish and the most of beauty ? Nay, that is not for me to do or to attempt.
In one thing he surpassed most men, - he grew more liberal the more he grew old, ripening and mellowing, too, with age. After he was seventy years old, he welcomed new ideas, kept his mind vigorous, and never fell into that crabbed admiration of past times and buried institutions which is the palsy of so many a man, and which makes old age nothing but à pity, and gray hairs provocative of tears. This is the more remarkable in a man of his habitual reverence for the past, in one who judged oftener by the history than by the nature of man.
Times will come when men shall look to that vacant seat. But the thunder is silent, the lightning gone; other men must take his place and fill it as they can. Let us not mourn that he has gone from us; let us remember what was evil in him, but only to be warned of ambition, of party strife, to love more that large charity which forgives an enemy, and, through good and ill, contends for mankind. Let us be thankful for the good he has said and done, be guided by it and blessed. There is a certain affluence of intellectual power granted to some men, that provokes admiration for a time, let the man of myriad gifts use his talent as he may. Such merely cubic greatness of mind is matter of astonishment rather than a fit subject for esteem and praise. Of that, Mr. Adams had little, as so many of his contemporaries had more. In him what most commands respect is, his Independence, his love of Justice, of his country and his kind. No son of New England has been ever so distinguished in political life. But it is no great thing to be President of the United States; some men it only makes ridiculous. A worm on a steeple's top is nothing but a worm, no more able to fly than while creeping in congenial mud ; a mountain needs no steeple to lift its head and show the world what is great and high. The world obeys its great men, stand where they may.
After all, this must be the greatest praise of Mr. Adams:
in private he corrupted no man nor woman; as a politician he never debauched the public morals of his country, nor used public power for any private end; in public and private he lived clean and above board ; he taught a fearless love of Truth and the Right, both by word and deed. I wish I could add, that was a small praise. But as the times go, as our famous men are, it is a very great fame, and there are few competitors for such renown; I must leave him alone in that glory. Doubtless, as he looked back on his long career, his whole life, motives as well as actions, must have seemed corered with imperfections. I will seek no further to disclose his merits, or “ draw his frailties from their dread abode."
He has passed on, where superior gifts and opportunities avail not, nor his long life, nor his high station, nor his widespread fame; where enemies cease from troubling, and the flattering tongue also is still. Wealth, honor, fame, forsake him at the grave's mouth. It is only the living soul, sullied or clean, which the last angel bears off in his arms to that world where many that seem first shall be last, and the last first; but where Justice shall be lovingly done to the great man full of power and wisdom who rules the State, and the