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of those causes which he championed in their birth will bring him praise; the race to whom he devoted his prime, chief mourner at his grave, will deck the sod with flowers and cover his memory with gratitude. We are but a little band of friends gathered together to consider the lesson of his life. I desire, as the leader of our thoughts, to regard him independently of the transitory events and measures of his career, and rather to set forth what was fundamental in that spirit, of which his acts and words were merely the mortal phenomena. That spirit, most strictly stated, was the soul of New England. He was a New Englander, a Bostonian, and yet more narrowly, a Boston Puritan. I refer not so much to his birth, as to his substance. The pivotal points of human history seem often ridiculously small. You remember Lowell's fine sentence: “On a map of the world you may cover Judea with your thumb, Athens with a finger-tip; but they still lord it in the thought and action of every civilized man." The Puritan spirit is a similar phenomenon; it presents the same union of intense localization with a world-wide speech of principle. Wendell Phillips was that burning nucleus made a living soul, whose vibrations were sent through a people. Moral depth was the distinguishing trait of his nature, as remorseless logic was the biting edge of his mind. He sent his roots so far down that they seemed to clasp the very rock of righteousness, and thereby he towered the more high and strong in the intellectual air of truth. You may know a Boston man by two traits, not that he has any exclusive ownership of them: he thinks he knows, and he thinks he is right. In a world prone to error men smile at such claims; but what if by chance they should be well founded ?

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Wendell Phillips did know. Wendell Phillips was right. How did he achieve such an uncommon distinction in a public man?

Phillips believed in ideas. They were his stock in trade, his armory, his jewels - what you will. To know them, to present them, to discuss them, to make them prevail — that was his life-work. Other men profess to believe in ideas, but usually with some qualification of expediency, of opportunity, of compromise, and with frequent disposition to rely on other agencies — favor, money, force; but Phillips believed in ideas rulers by their own nature, victors in their own right, whose advance was as resistless as the motion of matter, inviolable as natural law, the reign of which ought to be. Children of man's intelligence and man's conscience, ideas are born to the inheritance of the earth. This belief in the power of the unaided idea to win was a cardinal point in his convictions. It was a corollary of his faith in the soundness of human nature: men can know truth; men can be persuaded of it; and men — humanity

will not reject truth, if once it be clear in their minds and hearts. The great enemy of ideas is institutions. Phillips drew in with his New England milk the temper of that stock which had dethroned a king. He breathed the same transcendental air as Emerson. His view of history was practically that of the Revolutionary fathers, and, in its theoretical part, that of his great contemporaries. He had apprehended and thoroughly mastered the conception of history as the unfolding of the soul of humanity. Institutions are the successive cells of its habitancy, like the chambered nautilus:

"Build thee more stately mansions, O my Soull"

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The growth of the soul is a continual emergence breaking of swaddling-bands, a casting away of outgrown and worn-out clothes, a transgression of sacred limits, a rending of the temples, an earthquake-fall of the pillars of the state, a resurrection into higher forms, a revolution into ampler good, an ascent where the free spirit's foot rests rising from the body of the dead past. Institutions are shells; as soon as they begin to be uncomfortable, as soon as the living body begins to feel their pressure, to be cabined and confined therein, the walls break; the young oak explodes the old acorn. Phillips was fond of repeating Goethe's simile of the plant in the porcelain vase: “If the pot cannot hold the plant,” he would say, "let it crack!” Civilization laughs at institutions. Order, which society enjoins and old men love, is a low conception. It may be heaven's first law, but heaven is a finished place. Change is the password of growing states. Order means acquiescence, content, a halt; persisted in, it means the atrophy of life, a living death; it is the abdication of progress. We were taught that the divine discontent in our youthful breasts was the swelling of the buds of the soul; so there is a divine discontent in the state, which is the motions of its divinity within it brooding on times to come. Agitation is that part of our intellectual life where vitality resides; there ideas are born, breed, and bring forth; without incessant agitation of ideas, public free discussion, the state is dead. Disorder, indeed, is a disturbance of our peace, an interference with our business, a trouble; but that is its purpose — to trouble. Phillips, quoting Lord Holland, for he liked to mask his wisdom in a distinguished name, often said: "We are well aware that the privileges of the people, the rights of free dis


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cussion, and the spirit and letter of our popular insti-
tutions must render — and they are intended to render
- the continuance of an extensive grievance, and of the
dissatisfaction consequent thereupon, dangerous to the
tranquillity of the country, and ultimately subversive of
the authority of the state.” That is the principle, which,
applied generally, is the universal charter of ideas, under
whose freedom they maintain that incessant crumbling
of institutions, which is the work of growing nations.
If, in Phillips' scheme, ideas are the agents and agitation
the means, the end is justice. No word was so dear to
him as justice. Every chord of his voice knew its music.
It was a God of justice that old New England wor-
shiped; and throne what creed you will in her later
churches, the awful imprint of that ancient faith will
never fade from the hearts of her old race.

The sense
of justice is the bed-rock of the Puritan soul. It was
this that gave passionate conviction and iron edge to the
little band of anti-slavery apostles with whom Phillips
walked, pleaded, and preached through long years of
hatred, contumely, and scorn. In the evening of his
days, that molten glow seemed to dissolve in a golden
vision of a world where every man should have an equi-
table share in the goods of nature and the benefits of
civilization, and he saw mankind converging thereto in
many lands by many paths.

I cannot fully state nor adequately review the particular ideas of Phillips in their number; but I will touch on one or two of the most elementary. He believed in the principle of human equality. He was intellectually the child of that much derided but still extant document, the Declaration of Independence. Ideas are only truly alive when they are incarnated in some man. The Rights

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nessa hillips


of Man were as the bone and muscle of Phillips, and the flood of human hope that once streamed from the Declaration, as a lighthouse among the nations, made music in his blood and thrilled his nerves. He was, doubtless, sustained in his belief in human equality by his Christian convictions of the divine origin and immortal nature of man, and by his unshaken faith in that God who had made of one blood all the nations of the earth, and was a just God. In Christianity the line is so sharply drawn between all other creatures and man, "a little lower than the angels,” that such a conception of the unity of human nature is almost axiomatic. I shall not discuss the truth of the doctrine; but it lay at the roots of Phillips's faith in the people, which was his distinguishing trait as a master of public affairs. No hyperbole can overstate that faith. Phillips believed in ideas, but not in an intellectual class who are the possessors and guardians of ideas, and by that fact trustees of the masses. He believed in ideas, not in the form of knowledge, but in the form of wisdom. Knowledge may belong to the brain of the scholar, but wisdom is the breath of the people. Knowledge is the idea, volatile and abstract, in the mind; but wisdom is the idea dipt in the dyer's vat of life. The masses have political wisdom because the life of the people is the life of the state. An Italian boy, working out taxes on a Sicilian road, said to me once: "The poor pay with their bodies, Signore.” I remembered it because the words were almost identical with Lowell's. “I am impatient,” he said at Birmingham, "of being told that property is entitled to exceptional consideration because it bears all the burdens of the state. It bears those, indeed, which can most easily be borne, but poverty pays with its person the chief expenses of

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