« ZurückWeiter »
I was myself officially in the way of 'witnessing his earnest interest and efficient intervention, from the first confidential intimation of Mr. Dowse's views, until the final consummation of the noble gift. And, though his modesty at that day shrunk from any formal recognition of his own relation to the transaction, I should be wanting in fidelity to its history, were I to omit to bear testimony to the controlling influence which he seemed to exercise in our behalf. Our lamented friend was accustomed always to speak of this apartment, in which he justly took so much pride, as finished and completely furnished; nothing to be taken away, and nothing to be added. And so, indeed, we have all regarded it as long as he lived. But now that he is gone, and his familiar and welcome presence may no longer be looked for among us, we cannot but feel that there is something wanting to these walls; that there is a void to be supplied, so far as it is in the power of poor, perishable canvas to supply it; and I trust that at no distant day a suitable portrait may find its place here, which may perpetuate the remembrance of that effective intervention, and that thoughtful and constant care, which have entitled the name of George Livermore to be associated with that of his venerated friend, Thomas Dowse, in connection with this richest of all our possessions.
Our obligations to Mr. Livermore, however, have by no means been confined to those resulting from his relations to our enjoyment of the Dowse Library. From his first admission on the 22d of November, 1849, he has been among our most active and useful associates. As a member of our Standing Committee for many years, and its Chairman for more than one, and as a member of the Publishing Committee of our beautiful volumes of Proceedings, he has rendered us most valuable services. Nor has he been wanting in important contributions to our collections in the cause of history. The “Historical Research respecting the Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes as Slaves, as Citizens, and as Soldiers," which he read at the August monthly meeting in 1862, and which he afterwards printed in so many attractive forms, and distributed widely at his own cost, would alone have been enough to secure for him a reputation which any of us might envy.
Our Society, however, I am aware, can claim no monopoly in the sorrow which Mr. Livermore's death has occasioned. Boston has lost in him an upright and intelligent merchant. Cambridge has lost in him a useful and respected citizen. The American Antiquarian Society has lost in him an active associate and trusted counsellor. The Boston Athenæum and the Massachusetts State Library have lost in him a faithful and assiduous trustee. The Sunday school of his own parish have lost in him a devoted instructor and superintendent. Indeed, it would be difficult to name the public institution in this neighborhood, which has not been directly or indirectly indebted to him for personal services or valuable contributions. Ardent, intelligent, laborious, liberal, philanthropic, he was untiring in his exertions in every field of usefulness which was opened to him. You all know the zeal he displayed in the cause of the Union during the last four years; and how he labored, in season and out of season, at the risk and even at the positive sacrifice of bis own health, to promote the raising of troops, to stimulate patriotic action, and to uphold the flag of his country.
Yet, while he was thus willing to spend and to be spent in the service of others, Mr. Livermore had special pursuits and tastes of his own, quite apart from his mercantile connections, to which he devoted liis hours of leisure through a long course of years, and which were enough of themselves to secure for him an enviable distinction and a cherished remembrance. His beautiful library -- with its remarkable collection of rare editions of the Sacred Scriptures, including not a few Bibles which had the special charm of having belonged to illustrious persons of other ages and other lands, and, foremost among them all, the Bible of that loved and loving disciple and friend of Luther, Philip Melancthon was the chief source of his own pleasure, as it was an object of the deepest interest to all who visited him. Nor can any one forget that exquisite bibliographical taste of his, which had been kindled by a personal acquaintance with Dibdin himself; which had been nurtured and stimulated by familiar association with the beautiful books in his own library, or in the libraries of kindred spirits in this or in other States; and which he so often indulged by preparing a private edition of some tract of his own, or of some reprint of a rare old book or pamphlet, in a style which will always render it a gem in the collections of the many friends whom he delighted to gratify with a presentation copy.
I will attempt no analysis of Mr. Livermore's personal character and qualities, in the presence of so many who have known him longer and better than myself. Admirable tributes have already been paid him, and others are ready to be paid here and elsewhere. We had all hoped that many more years of usefulness were still in store for him; but we may apply to him the exquisite words of Jeremy Taylor : “ It must needs be, that such a man must die when he ought to die; and be like ripe and pleasant fruit falling from a fair tree, and gathered into baskets for the planter's use." I may be permitted to express my regret, that unavoidable absence from the State prevented me from uniting in the last honors to his remains. But not a few of our officers and members were present on the occasion ; and you will all concur, I am sure, in the adoption of the resolutions which the Standing Committee have instructed me to submit, before proceeding to other business this morning :
Resolved, That it is with deep sorrow we make record of the death of our esteemed associate, George Livermore, Esq., whose services to our Society in many ways, and more especially in connection with our possession and enjoyment of the Dowse Library, have entitled him to our most respectful and grateful remembrance.
Resolved, That the President be requested to appoint one of our number to prepare a memoir of Mr. Livermore, for the next, or an early, volume of our Proceedings.
TRIBUTE TO JARED SPARKS.
REMARKS MADE AT A MEETING OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
APRIL 3, 1866.
I CANNOT but remember to-night, gentlemen, that as I was leaving this room a few moments before the adjournment of our last monthly meeting, on the 8th of March, in order to accompany a part of my family on a journey from which I came home but a day or two since, I turned back to the accustomed seat of our eminent and excellent first Vice-President to ask him once more to take the chair which he had so often and so worthily occupied before. He had always been so punctual in his attendance here, that I took it for granted, without inquiry, that he would be forthcoming at my call. It proved that he was not present on that occasion. But little did any of us dream then, that the place which had known him so long was to know him no more for ever, and that we were so soon to lose from our cherished companionship, here and elsewhere, one to whose life and labors we were so deeply indebted, and in whose well-earned renown we all felt so much interest and so much pride. Hardly a week, however, had elapsed from that day, before a telegraphic announcement reached me in a distant part of the country, that our accomplished and distinguished friend had passed away, and that before I could be here to unite with you in paying the last tribute to his remains, they would have been consigned to the grave. I need not assure you how proudly I should have availed myself of the privilege of bearing a portion of his pall, as the representative of this Society, had that honorable assignment found me at home, or how glad I am now to have returned in season to take part with you in these ceremonies of commemoration.
Let me not call them ceremonies, — for there will be nothing ceremonious, nothing merely formal, I am sure, in what may be said or done here this evening in memory of our lamented associate. He was the last man to desire ceremonies in his own honor, or to inspire others with a disposition to deal coldly and formally with his name and fame. Indeed, there were few things, as you all know, more characteristic of JARED SPARKS than the manner in which he uniformly shrunk from any assertion or any recognition of his own unquestioned title to celebrity. He was never tired of recognizing the claims of others to distinction, or of paying tribute to whomsoever tribute was due, whether among the dead or among the living. His whole life - I had almost said was spent in doing honor to others. But for himself he seemed content with the quiet consciousness of having labored diligently, faithfully, devotedly, successfully, through a career of varied fortunes and many early discouragements, in the cause of education and letters, and of having contributed what he could to the illustration of the great names and great deeds of his country's history.
And who, we may well ask to-night,— who has contributed more than he
who has contributed so much as he - to that illustration ? Not a few of his contemporaries in the field of American authorship have prosecuted their historical researches, and found the heroes of their story, in distant realms and in a remote past. But it has been one of the peculiarities of his career, that it has been occupied exclusively with topics connected with his native land. In the crowded gallery of portraits which have owed their execution, directly or indirectly, to the untiring industry of Dr. Sparks, and which include so great a variety of character and so wide a range of service, there is not one, I believe, which is not associated, prominently if not exclusively, with the colonial or the national history of our own country. Nor can any one write that history, now or hereafter, without acknowledging a deep indebtedness at every step to his unwearied researches. Abandoning, as he did, only within a few years past, as the infirmities of age began to steal upon him, his long cherished purpose of preparing a formal narrative of our great Revolutionary period, he might yet well have congratulated himself,