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Francis Jackson (1861).

At the funeral services at Mr. Jackson's late residence, Hollis Street, Boston, November 18, 1861.

Here lies the body of one of whom it may be justly said, he was the best fruit of New England institutions. If we had been set to choose a specimen of what the best New England ideas and training could do, there are few men we should have selected before him. Broad views, long foresight, tireless industry, great force, serene faith in principles, parent of constant effort to reduce them to practice; contempt of mere wealth, that led him in middle life to give up getting, and devote his whole strength to ideas and the welfare of the race; entirely unselfish, perfectly just; thrifty, that he might have to give; fearing not the face of man; tolerant of other men's doubts and fears; tender and loving,--are not these the traits that have given us the inheritance we value? None will deny they were eminently his.

My only hesitation in describing him is lest I be thought to flatter. What men have themselves seen, they believe; all further is set down to the blind partiality of friendship. Few have been privileged to know men like Francis Jackson. To such men, in fulness of years, there is no death. There seems no place for tears here. Our friend has only laid down this body,--the worn tool God lent him,--and passed on to nearer [441] service and a higher sphere. He had fought a good fight, and certainly finished his work here.

We have known him so long, looked up to him for so many years, trusted his judgment, leaned on his friendship, counted on his strength so constantly, that, like a child losing its parent, we seem left without some wonted shelter under the high, cold heaven,--something we nestled under is gone.

I said he was all that our institutions ought to breed, -yes, having regard to his plans and purpose of life, he was one of the most thoroughly educated men I ever knew. All he professed and needed to know, he knew thoroughly. Though enjoying but scanty opportunities of education in early life, he was thoroughly dowered by patient training, carefully gathered information, and most mature thought; he was in every sense a wise man, and wise men valued him. My friend Mr. Garrison has quoted Theodore Parker. All of you who knew Theodore Parker intimately will recollect that when he wished to illustrate cool courage, indomitable perseverance, sound sense, rare practical ability, utter disinterestedness, and spotless integrity, he named Francis Jackson; and when in moments of difficulty he needed such qualities in a stanch friend, he found them in Francis Jackson.

Every character has some pervading quality, some key-note; our friend's, I think, was decision, serene self-reliance, and perseverance. He was the kind of man you involuntarily called to mind when men spoke of “one on God's side being a majority.” Such a one sufficed to outweigh masses, and outlive the opposition of long years. Francis Jackson's will did not seem a mere human will or purpose; it reminded you of some law or force of Nature,--like gravity or the weight of the globe,--hopeless to resist it. I cannot describe it [442] Better than by quoting some sentences Of John Foster's sketch of Howard,--you will see how closely they fit our friend,--

The energy of his determination was so great, that if instead of being habitual, it had been shown only for a short time on particular occasions, it would have appeared a vehement impetuosity; but by being uninterrupted, it had an equability of manner which scarcely appeared to exceed the tone of a calm constancy, it was so totally the reverse of anything like turbulence or agitation. It was the calmness of an intensity kept uniform by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, and by the character of the individual forbidding it to be less. ...

The moment of finishing his plans in deliberation, and commencing them in action, was the same. I wonder what must have been the amount of that bribe in emolument or pleasure, that would have detained him a week after their final adjustment. The law which carries water down a declivity was not more unconquerable and invariable than the determination of his feelings toward the main object . ... There was an inconceivable severity of conviction that he had one thing to do, and that he who would do some great thing in this short life, must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces as to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity. ...

As his method referred everything he did and thought to the same end, and his exertion did not relax for a moment, he made the trial, so seldom made, what is the utmost effect which may be granted to the last possible efforts of a human agent; and therefore what he did not accomplish, he might conclude to be placed beyond the sphere of mortal activity, and calmly leave to the immediate disposal of Omnipotence.

Add to this quality of decision his other trait,--tireless activity,--and it explains his life. Indeed, he needs no words of ours: “His own right hand was [443] carved his epitaph.” As Mr. Garrison has told us, he withdrew long ago from office,--stood outside of the political machine. But when history records the struggling birth of those changes and ideas which make our epoch and city famous, whose name will she put before his? And God has graciously permitted him to see of the labor of his hands. These walls said to the wave that beat down all law and authority in Boston, in 1835, “Thus far, no farther.” That word of rebuke was the first faint sighing of the tempest that now sweeps over the continent, “scourging before it the lazy elements which had long stagnated into pestilence.” Some men would say he flung away the honors of life. No; who has reaped so many? The roar of the streets, the petty inefficiency of mayors, never turned him one hair's breadth from his path, or balked him of his purpose. Brave, calm, tirelessly at work, he outlived mayors and governors,--the mere drift-wood of this Niagara,--and wrote his will on the statute-books of States.

Three years ago he brought me five thousand dollars, to be used in securing the rights of women. The only charge he laid on me was to keep the name of the donor secret until what has now happened,--his death. Already that fund has essentially changed the statute-book of the Empire State, altered materially the laws of two other Commonwealths, and planted the seed .of radical reform in the young sovereignty of Kansas. This unseen hand moved the lever which, afar off, lifts the burdens of one half the people of great States. And you all know how every man, friend or foe, confidently expected to see his calm brow on every platform which advocated a humane and an unpopular idea. I remember, years ago, at the very first meeting ever held in this city to abolish the use of the whip in the navy, a timidly conservative merchant refused to attend, saying, “Why, [444] I know whom I shall see there,--just Francis Jackson, of course, and his set:”

But he was not only a reformer, nor wholly absorbed in what narrow men call useful. Our broad city avenue to Roxbury is half hid by noble trees, because thirty years ago he, a member of the city government, saw to it, unaided at first, that they were planted. And he found time to save for history a sketch of his native town,--a volume the result of great labor, and which ranks among the best of our town histories.

Rarest of all, this pitiless toiler in constant work, this tremendous energy of purpose, was wholly unsavored with arrogance. He was eminently tolerant. It was not only that his perfect justice made allowance,--no, his ready sympathy helped to give fair, full weight to all that should excuse or make us patient with others. Indeed, his was that very, very rare mixture,--iron will and a woman's tenderness,--so seldom found in our race. Those who saw him only at work little knew how keenly he felt, and how highly he valued, the kind words and tender messages of those he loved. He not only served the needy and the fugitive slave, but his genial sympathy was as precious a gift as the shelter of this roof or the liberal alms he was sure to bestow. Some men are only modest from indifference, and the energy of some is only ambition in a mask. Mr. Jackson's modesty had no taint of indolence; his enterprise was no cloak for ambition.

Highest of all, he was emphatically an honest man, in the full, sublime sense of those common words. “Boston,” as the Tribune says, “has lost her honestest man.” If I speak again of the opposition he encountered, it is not because he cared for it. He took fortune's buffets and rewards with equal thanks,--with a serene indifference. But it is just to him to consider that malignant [445] opposition in another light. The pitiless storm of public hate beat upon him for thirty years. Malice — personal, political, religious — watched his every act, dogged his every step, and yet no breath of suspicion ever touched his character. Out of that ordeal he comes with no smell of fire on his garments; the boldest malice never gathered courage to invent an accusation. Son, brother, husband, father, neighbor, friend, reformer, in private life, in business, or holding office, no man ever suspected him of anything but the bravery of holding opinions which all hated, none could confute, and of acting them out at the risk of property and life, and the actual sacrifice of all common men love. How few have such an epitaph! We who knew him, when we read of Hampden resisting ship-money, or Sidney going to the block, feel that we have walked and lived with their fellow. Scholars watched him, and thought of Plutarch. Narrow sectarians scrutinized him, and wondered how one lacking their shibboleth wore so naturally graces they only prayed for. Active, stanch friend, wise counsellor, liberal hand, serene worker,--like the stars, “without haste, without rest!” Let us thank God for the sight, for the example! He would tell us to spare our words, saying, he had only tried to use his powers honestly. His best praise is our following his example, and each fearlessly obeying his own conscience, and doing with his might whatever his hand finds to do for his fellowman. Let us so do him honor; and as the great Englishman said of his friend: “There's none to make his place good,--let us go to the next best,” so of thee, dear comrade and leader of many years, thy place is sacred forever to thy memory! We go to the next best, till God gives us to see thee once again, face to face I

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