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[242]

Some one has said that ‘history is the glass by which the royal mind should be dressed,’ and you can appreciate the cleverness of the remark when applied to any mind that is able to distinguish what is solid from what is merely splendid, which with analyzing powers sifts the chaff from the wheat and strives to emulate the goodness of the good and the courage of the brave.

And it is circumstances of this sort that make this hour one of peculiar and solemn interest to us, as we stand in the presence of a finished life, from every side of which is reflected that which stimulates to noble purposes and worthy deeds. We gather to-day with mournful purposes of honor around the bier of no ordinary man. We stand under the shadow of a life that has spread out its noble branches, from every one of which drop upon our head the ripening fruit of wisdom and grace, integrity and virtue, benevolence and sympathy, piety and honor.

Benjamin G. Humphreys, a native of your own soil, your friend and neighbor, a man of unblemished character, an actor in many scenes, the hero of many battles, is no more.

As if conscious that his end was near, and weary of the struggles of life that were relentless even amidst the infirmities of age, he wrapped his mantle about him, ready to be gathered unto his fathers, and his spirit passed calmly and peacefully into the audience chamber of the blest.

He was born in Claiborne county, Mississippi, in 1808, of a house and lineage, to the honor of which no word need be spoken before this assembly.

As a youth he evidently manifested a precocity that encouraged his father to give him special educational advantages, which at that early day were purchased at great expense and inconvenience. He passed through a preparatory course in a classical school at Morristown, New Jersey, a State long ago famous for its educational facilities, and afterwards received an appointment of cadetship in the national school at West Point. And while there he was associated as classmate and confederate with such men as Jefferson Davis, Joseph E. Johnston, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert E. Lee, men of whom Southern history and Southern chivalry shall ever be justly proud.

It might have been expected that by such associations and influences he would have been tempted at once into public life; but public life as a matter of profession seemed to have no attractions for


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