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if his modesty had suffered him to do so, that he had quarried the materials with which others are building, and with which others must always continue to build. Certainly, no thorough or more valuable investigation of all that pertains to that transcendent period of American history has ever been made, or is likely to be made, than that of which the abounding fruits were given to the world in his Life and Writings of Washington, in his Life and Writings of Franklin, and in the numerous lesser biographies with which he has enriched our historic literature. Bringing to whatever he undertook a sturdy strength of mind and body, a full measure of practical common sense, faculties of perception and comprehension which more than made up in precision and grasp for any thing which may have been wanting in quickness or keenness, a marvellous love of work, a patience and perseverance of research which nothing could fatigue or elude, he pursued his inquiries with all the zeal of an advocate, but weighed the results and pronounced the decision with the calm discrimination of a judge. The simplicity of his style was a faithful index of the simplicity of his whole character. There was nothing in his nature which tempted him to seek brilliancy at the expense of truth. He had as little capacity as taste for indulging in rhetorical exaggerations or embellishments. No man was ever freer from unjust prejudices or unjust partialities. No man ever sought more earnestly to do justice to his subject without displaying himself or espousing a side. And thus his historical writings will be respected and consulted in all time to come as the highest and best authority in regard to the men, the facts, and the events to which they relate.
Let me recall, in this connection, the language of Washington Irving in a letter to myself, written while he was still engaged in composing that brilliant biography of the Father of his Country, which was the crowning glory of his own literary life: “I doubt," said he, “whether the world will ever get a more full and correct idea of Washington than is furnished by Sparks's collection of his letters, with the accompanying notes and illustrations, and the preliminary biography.” “From the examination I have given to the correspondence of Washington,” he continued, “in the archives of the State Department, it appears to me that Sparks has executed his task of selection, arrangement, and copious illustration, with great judgment and discrimination, and with consummate fidelity to the essential purposes of history. His intelligent and indefatigable labors in this and other fields of American history are of national and incalculable importance. Posterity will do justice to them and him.”
But Mr. Irving did not confine his testimony in regard to the labors and achievements of our lamented associate to private correspondence. He concludes the preface to his own admirable work with the following noble acknowledgment: “I have also made frequent use of Washington's Writings,' as published by Mr. Sparks; a careful collation of many of them, with the originals, having convinced me of the general correctness of the collection and of the safety with which it may be relied upon for historical purposes ; and I am happy to bear this testimony to the essential accuracy of one whom I consider among the greatest benefactors to our national literature, and to whose writings and researches I acknowledge myself largely indebted throughout
Nor can I forget how emphatically this testimony was echoed by our illustrious associate, Edward Everett, whose eloquent voice we have not yet learned to do without on such an occasion as this. In acknowledging an especial obligation to Mr. Sparks, in the introduction of the Memoir of Washington which, at the request of Lord Macaulay, he contributed to the “ Encyclopædia Britannica,” he says as follows: “No one can have occasion to write or speak on the life of Washington, however compendiously, without finding constant occasion to repeat the acknowledgment of Mr. IRVING, who justly places him among the greatest benefactors of our national literature.""
But I need not have appealed to the testimony of the dead. There are those among the living whom I see around me at this moment who can do ample justice to our departed friend in all the various stages of his long and valuable life, - who can bear witness to the courage and constancy with which he encountered and overcame the disadvantages of his early years; to his diligence and fidelity as a student, to his ability and devotion as a Professor, and as President, of the University which he loved so well; to his generous readiness to assist others who were engaged in historical pursuits, and to his gratitude to all who assisted him; to his moral and religious character, and to those sterling qualities of head and heart which so endeared him to his associates and friends.
And here before me, too, are witnesses more impressive and emphatic than any voices either of the dead or of the living. This multitudinous accumulation of volumes on our table, hardly less than a hundred in number, — nearly all of them his own gift to our library, all of them his own gift to American literature, what a life of labor do they not bespeak! To what rich resources and earnest researches, to what varied accomplishments and noble achievements, do they not bear testimony! Of what an enviable and enduring association of his own name with the names of the heroes of our history, and more especially with that pre-eminent and peerless name which is to live longest in the memory of mankind, are they not at once the ample price and the assured pledge!
Without another word, gentlemen, I submit to your consideration, by authority of the Standing Committee, the following resolutions:
Resolved, That in the death of Jared Sparks this Society has lost one of its most valued and distinguished members, whose private virtues and whose literary achievements have alike entitled him to our respect and admiration.
Resolved, That the contributions of our lamented associate to the history of our country have been exceeded in amount and value by those of no other man among the living or the dead, and that we cannot doubt that posterity will confirm the judgment of Irving and Everett in pronouncing him one of the greatest benefactors to American Literature.”
THE JUBILEE OF THE AMERICAN
A SPEECH MADE AT THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC, NEW YORK, MAY 10, 1866.
I KNOW too well, Mr. President, the value of time on such an occasion as this to allow myself to trespass long on your indulgence this morning. I could not find it in my conscience, however, to decline altogether the repeated requests of your Executive Committee that I would take some part in these Anniversary exercises. Indeed, I should have felt myself quite unworthy of being numbered among the Vice-Presidents of this noblest of all Societies, had I willingly absented myself from your Jubilee to-day. Why, what a Jubilee it is, my friends, and how eminently worthy of observance by all who take an interest in the welfare of mankind! What other Jubilee, — moral, social, literary, political, national, — what other Jubilee is there to be compared with it, in view of the enduring influence and far-reaching extent of the work which it commemorates ? What other association of men has a right to indulge in the same measure of joy and exultation which belongs to those, who can look back on fifty years of faithful and successful labor in publishing and circulating the Word of God ?
I have often before, Mr. President, been deeply impressed with the doings of this Society even in a single year, as I have found them described in some one of its Annual Reports, and as I have reflected on the influence which must have been produced by the thousands and tens of thousands of Bibles which have been distributed through its agency during a single revolution of the
But as I contemplate to-day the aggregate results of the full half-century which has elapsed since its original institution; as I look at the statements which have been made up for us by your faithful Secretaries, and mark the grand sum total of the facts and figures; as I think of more than twenty-one millions of volumes, containing a part or the whole of the Holy Scriptures, scattered broadcast over the world, wherever there was an eye to read them, a hand to receive them, or a heart to understand them, — I confess I can conceive of nothing in the whole range of human effort or human accomplishment more worthy of being the subject of grateful acknowledgment to God, and of triumphant celebration among men. Oh, my friends! if we could ascertain at this moment something of the secret history of those twenty-one millions of volumes; if we could trace them back to the hands into which they first fell, and follow them down through all their successive uses and ownerships; if we could track them wherever they have gone, over sea and over land, many of them into the abodes of want and wretchedness, many of them into remote and barbarous lands, not a few of them into scenes of peril on the stormy deep, many of them into scenes of conflict and carnage on the battle-fields of our own land, in that great struggle which, we thank God, has resulted in the rescue of our Union ; if we could bring all these volumes within a single view, and perceive at a glance how many hearts they have gladdened and elevated, how many homes they have cheered and blessed, how many souls they have lighted and lifted on their way to the skies, how many noble lives they have inspired and animated, how many heroic deaths they have consoled and comforted, — what a sublime record would be presented to us! What is there in all the regions of romance, or in the whole compass of the drama, that would equal it in interest ? What is there in all the boasted achievements of real life that would approach it in importance ?
Beyond all doubt, my friends, we are dealing here to-day with the great enginery of the world's progress, with the greatest of all instrumentalities for social advancement as well as for individual salvation. Personally or politically, whether as States and nations or as individual men and women, we can do without any thing, and without every thing, better than without the Bible. We could spare Homer from ancient literature; we could spare Shakspeare, and Milton, too, from modern literature;