« ПредишнаНапред »
addition to the general sense of loss in the 1emoval of a great leader and a statesman, in whose wisdom and firmness so strong a confidence was reposed, there was in many hearts a feeling of personal bereavement in the death of a revered and beloved friend ; and thus thousands were led to the spot by a wish to honor his memory and look once more upon his face. From all quarters, by every path, and by every conveyance, great multitudes came together; and the whole number of persons assembled at the hour of noon was probably not less than ten or twelve thousand. A thoughtful consideration for the feelings of all who were present was shown in the arragements of the funeral. In order that the wish which all felt, to look for he last time upon the face of the illustrious dead, might be gratified without hurry or confusion, the body was brought from the library at an early hour in the morning and placed upon the lawn, in front of the house, beneath the open heavens and under a tree which, in its summer foliage, was a conspicuous ornament of the spot. The majestic form reposed in the familiar garb of life, with more than the dignity of life in its most imposing moments. Suffering had changed, without impairing those noble features. The grandeur of the brow was untouched, and the attitude full of strength and peace. For more than three hours a constant stream of men and women, of all ages, passed on both sides, pausing for a moment to look upon that loved and honored form. Parents held their children by the hand, bade them contemplate the face of their benefactor, and charged them never to lose the memory of that spectacle and that hour.— Many dissolved into tears as they turned aside; and one—a man of plain garb and appearance—was heard to make in a subdued voice, the striking remark, “Daniel Webster, the world will seem lonesome without you.” The thoughtful and kindly feeling which dictated all the arrangements, permitted any who wished, to enter the house by the principal entrance, walk through a small sitting-room, where hang several family portraits, and going through the library, a beautiful
and favorite room, ornamented with the likenesses of Mr. Webster and Lord Ashburton, pass out upon the lawn. Thousands availed themselves of this privilege, -silently, decorously, sadly. There was no sound from that vast multitude, but the inevitable grating of their feet upon the paths. This was like the chafing of the surf upon a pebbly beach,—a strange, impressive murmur.
At twelve, the passing through the house was stopped. Soon afterwards, the Rev. Ebenezer Alden, pastor of the Congregational Church in South Marshfield, where Mr. Webster had been accustomed to attend public worship, commenced the religious service by reading a selection from the Bible. After which, the following address was made by him:
On an occasion like the present, a multitude of words were worse than idle. Standing before that majestic form, it becomes ordinary men to keep silence. “He being dead, yet speaketh.” In the words he applied to Washington, in the last great public discourse he ever delivered, the whole atmosphere is redolent of his name; hills and forests, rocks and rivers, echo and re-echo his praises. All the good, whether learned or unlearned, high or low, rich or poor, feel this day that there is one treasure common to them all, and that is the fame and character of Webster. They recount his deeds, ponder over his principles and teachings, and resolve to be more and more guided by them in future. Americans by birth are proud of his character, and exiles from foreign shores are eager to participate in admiration of him; and it is true that he is, this day, here, everywhere, more an object of love and regard than on any d y since his birth.
And while the world, too prone to worship mere intellect, laments that the orator and statesman is no more, we enter upon more sacred ground, and dwell upon the example and counsels of a Christian, as a husband, father, and friend. I trust it will be no rude wounding of the spirit, no intrusion upon the privacy of domestic life, to allude to a few circumstances in the last scenes
of the mortal existence of the great man who is gone, fitted to administer Christian consolation, and to guide to a better acquaintance with that religion which is adapted both to temper our grief and establish our hope.
Those who were present upon the morning of that Sabbath upon which this head of a family conducted the worship of his household, will never forget, as he read from our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, the emphasis which he alone was capable of giving to that passage which speaks of the divine nature of forgiveness. They saw beaming from that eye, now closed in death, the spirit of Him who first uttered that godlike sentiment.
And he who, by the direction of the dying man, upon a subsequent morning of the day of rest, read in their connection these words: “Lord, I believe ; help thou my unbelief; and then the closing chapter of our Saviour's last words to his disciples, being particularly requested to dwell upon this clause of the verse —“Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are ”—beheld a sublime illustration of the indwelling and abiding power of Christian fai:h.
And if these tender rememberances only cause our tears to flow more freely, it may not be improper for us to present the example of the father, when his great heart was rent by the loss of a daughter whom he most dearly loved. Those present on that occasion well remember when the struggle of mortal agony was over, retiring from the presence of the dead, bowing together before the presence of God, and joining with the afflicted father as he poured forth his soul, pleading for grace and strength from on high.
As upon the morning of his death we conversed upon the evident fact that, for the last few weeks, his mind had been engaged in preparation for an exchange of worlds, one who knew him, well remarked, “ His whole life has been that preparation.” The people of this rural neighborhood, among whom he spent the last twenty years of his life, among whom he died, and with whom he is to
rest, have been accustomed to regard him with mingled veneration and love. Those who knew him best, can the most truly appreciate the lessons both from his lips and example, teaching the sustaining power of the Gospel. His last words, “I still Live,” we may interpret in a higher sense than that in which they are usually regarded. He has taught us how to attain the life of faith and the life to come. Vividly impressed upon the memory of the speaker is the instruction once received as to the fitting way of presenting divine truth from the sacred desk. Would that its force might be felt by those who are called to minister in divine things. Said Mr. Webster, “When I attend upon the preaching of the Gospel, I wish to have it made a personal matter, A PERson AL MATTER, A PERSONAL MATTER.” It is to present him as enforcing these divine lessons of wisdom and consolation, that we have recalled to your minds these precious recollections. And we need utter no apology. Indeed, we should be inexcusable in letting the present opportunity pass without unveiling the inner sanctuary of the life of the foremost man of all this world; for his most intimate friends are well aware that he had it in mind to prepare a work upon the internal evidences of Christianity, as a testimony of his heartfelt conviction of the “divine reality” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But, finding himself rapidly approaching those august scenes of immortality into which he had so often looked, he dictated the most important part of his epitaph. And so long as “the rock shall guard his rest, and the ocean sound his dirge,” the world shall read upon his monument, not only
One of the few, the immortal names,
but also that Daniel Webster lived and died in the Christian faith. The delineation which he gave of one of his early and noble compeers could never have been written except from an experimental acquaintaince with that which he holds up as the chief excellence of his friend. This description we shall apply to himself, trusting that it will be as well understood as admired. Political eminence and professional fame fade away and die with all things earthly. Nothing of character is really permanent but virtue and personal worth. These remain. Whatever of excellence is wrought into the soul itself belongs to both worlds. Real goodness does not attach itself merely to this life; it points to another world. Political or professional reputation cannot last forever; but a conscience void of offence before God and man is . an inheritance for eternity. Religion, therefore, is a necessary and indispensable element in any great human character. There is no living without it. Religion is the tie that connects man with his Creator and holds him to His throne. If that tie be all sundered, all broken, he floats away, a worthless atom in the universe; its proper attractions all gone, its destiny thwarted, and its whole future nothing but darkness, desolation, and death. A man with no sense of religious duty is he whom the Scriptures describe in such terse but terrific language, as living without God in the world. Such a man is out of his proper being, out of the circle of all his duties, out of the circle of all his happiness, and away, far, far away from the purposes of his creation. A mind like Mr. Webster's active, thoughtful, penetrating, sedate, could not but meditate deeply on the condition of man below, and feel its responsibilities. He could not look on this mighty system,
This universal frame, thus wondrous fair,
without feeling that it was created and upheld by an Intelligence, to which all other intelligence must be responsible. I am bound to say that in the course of my life I never met with an individual in any profession or condition, who always spoke and always thought with such awful reverence of the power and presence of God. No irreverence, no lightness, even no too familiar allusion to God and his attributes ever escaped his lips. The very notion of a Supreme Being was, with him, made up of awe and solemnity.