« ZurückWeiter »
TRIBUTE TO HON. NATHAN APPLETON.
REMARKS MADE AT A MEETING OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
AUGUST 8, 1861.
We have been called on so often of late, gentlemen, to notice the departure of those whose names have adorned our Honorary or our Resident rolls, that the language of eulogy may seem to have been almost exhausted. Yet I am sure you would not excuse me, nor could I excuse myself, were I to fail to make some brief allusion this morning to a valued and venerable associate, who died only a day or two after our last monthly meeting.
Lowell, the revered pastor; Shaw, the illustrious jurist; White, the accomplished counsellor and scholar; Bowditch, the faithful conveyancer and genial humorist, whose diligence has illustrated so many title-deeds, and whose wit has illuminated so many title-names; --- all these and more have received, in sad succession, our farewell tributes within a few months past. The wise, upright, and eminent merchant presents no inferior claim to our respectful remembrance, nor will his name be associated with less distinguished or less valuable services to the community.
Not many men, indeed, have exercised a more important influence among us, during the last half-century, than the late Hon. Nathan Appleton. Not many men have done more than he has done, in promoting the interests, and sustaining the institutions, to which New England has owed so much of its prosperity and welfare. No man has done more, by example and by precept, to elevate the standard of mercantile character, and to exhibit the pursuits of commerce in proud association with the highest integrity, liberality, and ability.
The merchants of Boston have already recognized his peculiar claims to their respect, and have paid him a tribute not more honorable to him than to themselves. But he was more than a merchant. As a clear and vigorous writer on financial and commercial questions; as a successful expounder of some of the mysteries of political economy; as a wise and prudent counsellor in the public affairs of the country, as well as in the practical concerns of private life; as a liberal friend to the institutions of religion, education, and charity; as a public-spirited, Christian citizen, of inflexible integrity and independence, -- he has earned a reputation quite apart from the enterprise and success of his commercial career.
Few of those whose names, for thirty years past, have been inscribed with his own on the rolls of our Society, have taken a more active and intelligent interest in our pursuits. Few have been more regular in their attendance at our meetings, or more liberal in their contributions to our means.
Tracing back his descent to an early emigrant from the county of Suffolk in England, where his family had been settled for more than two centuries before, he was strongly attracted towards our Colonial history, and was eager to co-operate in whatever could worthily illustrate the Pilgrim or the Puritan character. He was a living illustration of some of the best elements of both.
This is not the occasion for entering into the details of his life and services; but, should the Society concur with the Standing Committee in the Resolutions which they have instructed me to submit, there may be an opportunity of pursuing the subject more deliberately hereafter. Let me only add, before offering them, that, on many accounts, I should have been disposed to shrink from the responsibility which they impose on me, had not our lamented friend so far honored me with his confidence as to express the wish, that I would undertake any little Memoir of him which might be customary in our collections, — accompanying the expression with some sketches of his life, which will form the largest and best part of whatever I may be able to prepare.
I offer the following Resolutions :
Resolved, That, in the death of the Hon. NATHAN APPLETON, our Society has lost a valued member, a liberal friend, and one whose enterprise and integrity as a merchant, whose ability and accomplishments as a writer, and whose distinguished services as a public mar, have rendered his name an ornament to our rolls.
Resolved, That the President be requested to prepare the customary Memoir for our next volume of Proceedings.*
* The Memoir of Mr. Appleton, which was prepared in conformity with this vote, is contained in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 1860-1862, pp. 249-308.
THE FLAG OF THE UNION.
A SPEECH ON THE PRESENTATION OF A FLAG TO THE TWENTY-SECOND REGIMENT
OF MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS, ON BOSTON COMMON, OCTOBER 8, 1861.
COLONEL WILSON, — I am here at the call of a committee of your friends, by whom this beautiful banner has been procured, to present it, in their behalf, to the regiment under your command.
I am conscious how small a claim I have to such a distinction; but I am still more conscious how little qualified I am, at this moment, to do justice to such an occasion. Had it been a mere ordinary holiday ceremony, or had I been called to it only by those with whom I have been accustomed to act in political affairs, I should have declined it altogether.
But it was suggested to me by the committee, that the position which I had occupied in former years, in regard to some of the great questions which have agitated and divided the public mind, and the relations which I had borne to yourself, politically if not personally, might give something of peculiar and welcome significance to my presence here to-day, -as affording another manifestation, more impressive than any mere words could supply, that in this hour of our country's agony, and in view of the momentous issues of national life and death which are trembling in the scale, all political differences, and all personal differences, are buried in a common oblivion, and that but one feeling, but one purpose, but one stern and solemn determination, pervades and animates the whole people of Massachusetts.
To such a suggestion, sir, I could not for an instant hesitate to yield; and most heartily shall I rejoice if any word or any act of mine may help to enforce, or even only to illustrate, that unanimity of sentiment which ought to make, and which I trust does make, à million of hearts this day beat and throb as the heart of
Sir, you will not desire — this crowded assembly will not desire
that in discharging the simple service so unexpectedly assigned to
me, I should occupy much of your time in formal words of argument or of appeal. Still less could such a detention be agreeable to these gallant volunteers, who have been called to commence their campaign under skies which have dampened every thing except their courage and their patriotism ; who are impatient to find themselves fairly on the way to their distant scene of duty, and who are entitled to spend the few remaining hours before their departure in exchanging farewells with the friends and relatives who are gathered around them.
Yet I should hardly be excused by others, or by yourself, if I did not attempt, in a few plain words, to give some expression to that pervading sentiment, to that solemn purpose, to that stern resolve, which animates and actuates each one of us alike.
Sir, there is no mystery about the matter. There' ought to be no concealment about it. There can be no mistake about it. Your venerable chaplain has embodied it all in that sparkling lyric 6 E Pluribus Unum" -- which might well be adopted as the secular song of your noble regiment. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than a sentiment of duty to our whole country; of devotion to its Union; of allegiance to its rulers; of loyalty to its Constitution; and of undying love to that old Flag of our Fathers, which was associated with the earliest achievement of our liberty, and which we are resolved shall be associated with its latest defence. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than a determination that neither fraud nor force, neither secret conspiracy nor open rebellion, shall supplant that flag on the dome of our Capitol, or permanently humble it anywhere beneath the sun ;that the American Union shall not be rent asunder without catching in the cleft those who may attempt it; nor these cherished institutions of ours be cast down and trampled in the dust, until, at least, we have made the best, the bravest, the most strenuous struggle to save them, which the blessing of Heaven