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exhaustless illustration, that infinite variety, which no age could wither and no custom stale, – that all, all were henceforth lost to us for ever, I could only recall the touching lines which I remembered to have seen applied to the sudden death, not many years ago, of a kindred spirit, of old England, - one of her greatest statesmen, one of his most valued friends :
“Could not the grave forget thee, and lay low
TRIBUTE TO EDWARD EVERETT.
REMARKS MADE AT A MEETING OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
JANUARY 30, 1865.
GENTLEMEN OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY, — The occasion of this meeting is but too well known to you all. None of us were strangers to the grief which pervaded this community on the recent announcement of the death of Edward Everett. Not a few of us have had the privilege of uniting with the public authorities, who hastened to assume the whole charge of his funeral, in paying the last tribute to his honored remains. And more than one of us have already had an opportunity of giving some feeble expression to our sense of the loss which has been sustained by our city, our Commonwealth, and our whole country.
But we are here this evening to take up the theme again somewhat more deliberately, as a Society of which he was so long one of the most valuable, as well as one of the most distinguished members. We are here not merely to unite in lamenting the close of a career which has been crowded with so many good words and good works for the community and the country at large, but to give utterance to our own particular sorrow for the breach which has been made in our own cherished circle.
Mr. Everett was elected a member of this Society on the 27th of April, 1820, when he was but twenty-six years of age; and, at the time of his death, his name stood second in order of seniority on the roll of our resident members. I need not attempt to say to you how much we have prized his companionship, how often we have profited of his counsels, or how deeply we have been indebted to him for substantial services which no one else could have rendered so well.
His earliest considerable effort in our behalf was a lecture delivered before us on the 31st of October, 1833. It was entitled “Anecdotes of Early Local History," and will be found in the second volume of his collected works, - now lying upon our table, with an extended note or appendix containing many interesting details concerning the Society, its objects and its members. But it is only within the last nine or ten years, and since his public life -- so far as office is necessary to constitute public life - was brought to a close, that he has been in the way of taking an active part in our proceedings. No one can enter the room in which we are gathered without remembering how frequently, during that period, his voice has been heard among us in rendering such honors to others, as now, alas! we are so unexpectedly called to pay to himself. No one can forget his admirable tributes to the beloved Prescott, to the excellent Nathan Hale, to the venerated Quincy, among our immediate associates ; to Daniel D. Barnard of Albany and Henry D. Gilpin of Philadelphia, to Washington Irving, to Hallam, to Humboldt, to Macaulay, among our domestic and foreign honorary members.
Still less will any one be likely to forget the noble eulogy which he pronounced, at our request, on the 9th of December, 1858, upon that remarkable self-made man whom we have ever delighted to honor as our largest benefactor, and in whose pictured presence we are at this moment assembled. Often as I have listened to our lamented friend, since the year 1824,- when I followed him with at least one other whom I see before me to Plymouth Rock, and heard his splendid discourse on the Pilgrim Fathers, I can hardly recall any thing of his, more striking of its kind, or more characteristic of its author, than that elaborate delineation of the life of Thomas Dowse. No one, certainly, who was present on the occasion, can fail to recall the exhibition which he gave us, in its delivery, of the grasp and precision of his wonderful memory, when in describing the collection of water colors, now in the Atheneum gallery, which was the earliest of Mr. Dowse's possessions, he repeated, without faltering, the unfamiliar names of more than thirty of the old masters from whose works they were copied, and then turning at once to the
description of the library itself, as we see it now around us, proceeded to recite the names of fifty-three of the ancient authors of Greek and Roman literature, of nineteen. of the modern German, of fourteen of the Italian, of forty-seven of the French, of sixteen or seventeen of the Portugese and Spanish, making up in all an aggregate of more than one hundred and eighty names of artists and authors, many of them as hard to pronounce as they were difficult to be remembered, but which he rehearsed, without the aid of a note and without the hesitation of an instant, with as much ease and fluency as he doubtless had rolled off the famous catalogue of the ships, in the second book of Homer's Iliad, with the text-book in his hand, as a college student or as Greek professor, half a century before !
I need hardly add that with this library, now our most valued treasure, the name of Mr. Everett will henceforth be hardly less identified than that of Mr. Dowse himself. Indeed, he had been associated with it long before it was so munificently transferred to
By placing yonder portrait of him, taken in his earliest manhood, upon the walls of the humble apartment in which the books were originally collected, - the only portrait ever admitted to their companionship, — our worthy benefactor seems himself to have designated Edward Everett as the presiding genius or patron saint of this library; and as such he will be enshrined by us, and by all who shall succeed us, as long as the precious books and the not less precious canvas shall escape the ravages of time.
I may not omit to remind you that our lamented friend — who was rarely without some labor of love for others in prospect had at least two matters in hand for us at the time of his death, which he was hoping, and which we all were hoping, that he would soon be able to complete. One of them was a memoir of that noble patriot of South Carolina, James Louis Petigru, whose life-long devotion to the cause of the American Union, alike in the days of nullification and of secession, will secure him the grateful remembrance of all to whom that Union is dear. The other was a volume of Washington's private letters, which he was preparing to publish in our current series of Historical Collections. It is hardly a month since he told me that the letters were all copied, and that he was sorry to be obliged to postpone the printing of them a little longer, in order to find time for the annotations with which he desired to accompany them.
But you do not require to be told, gentlemen, that what Mr. Everett has done, or has proposed to do, specifically for our own Society, would constitute a very small part of all that he has accomplished in that cause of American history in which we are associated. It is true that he has composed no independent historical work, nor ever published any volume of biography more considerable than the excellent memoir of Washington, which he prepared, at the suggestion of his friend Lord Macaulay, for the new edition of the “Encyclopædia Britannica.” But there is no great epoch -- there is hardly a single great event — of our national or of our colonial history, which he has not carefully depicted and brilliantly illustrated in his occasional discourses. I have sometimes thought that no more attractive or more instructive history of our country could be presented to the youth of our land, than is found in the series of anniversary orations which he has delivered during the last forty years. Collect those orations into a volume by themselves; arrange them in their historical order: 6 The First Settlement of New England," " The Settlement of Massachusetts,” “The Battle of Bloody Brook in King Philip's War," “ The Seven Years' War, the School of the Revolution," “ The First Battles of the Revolutionary War," « The Battle of Lexington," "The Battle of Bunker Hill,”!.“ Dorchester in 1630, 1776, and 1855;" combine with them those “ Anecdotes of Early Local History," which he prepared for our own Society; and add to them his charming discourses on “The Youth of Washington” and “ The Character of Washington," on “ The Boyhood and the Early Days of Franklin," and his memorable eulogies on Adams and Jefferson, on Lafayette, on John Quincy Adams and on Daniel Webster, and I know not in' what other volume the young men, or even the old men, of our land could find the history of the glorious past more accurately or more admirably portrayed. I know not where they could find the toils and trials and struggles of our Colonial or Revolutionary fathers set forth with greater fulness of detail or greater felicity of illustration. As one reads those orations and discourses at