Table of Contents:
We are given to understand by Northern journalists that W. H. Seward, A. M., will deliver an eulogium upon the late Edward Everett. We know of no one who could more appropriately sing the funeral dirge. They were brethren in patriotism and elevation of character.--Both were devoted to the cause of the Union, and neither of them ever thought of their own interests. If there was any human weakness about either of these great men, it was a total neglect and oblivion of number one. Seward prefers that Lincoln should be in the Presidency to wearing the purple himself, and Everett, at an early age, sacrificed the Church for the State. We should like to hear Seward's funeral oration. An incidental allusion might be made in it to the death of the country. We have no wish to speak evil of the dead; least of all, of any man who once had claims, apparently, to our respect and admiration. Even when the veil has fallen, and we discover that we had been duped and humbugged, the subject is not a pleasant one for reflection, and we would dismiss it altogether. Edward Everett was a great scholar, a great orator, and once an ardent champion of the Constitution. No one was more earnest and emphatic than he in his advocacy of Southern rights. He would shoulder his musket and fight for the South if its slave institutions were assailed. He was fond of pointing to Jamaica and St. Domingo to show the evil effects of abolishing slavery. And then to see this man, as soon as that attempt was made, urging it on with just as much vehemence as he had deprecated it; talking about his musket against the South; strewing his rhetorical pinks and carnations around the footsteps of Lincoln, and devoting the land of Washington, where he had been received with open hands and hearts, to fire and sword. For his own fame, he ought to have died before the war, and carried the secret of his hollowness to the grave. There is no excuse for his apostasy in the Union frenzy that carried away the Northern conservative masses at the beginning of the war. He might have stood by the Union and yet preserved his own dignity and consistency. He might have stood aloof from the crusade of blood like R. C. Winthrop, or, whilst he held by the Union, have protested, like Franklin Pierce, against the crimes that have been committed in its name. There was no necessity that he should make himself a superserviceable lackey of Lincoln, and emulate B. F. Butler, Cushing and Dickerson in shameless political tergiversation. He might, with perfect safety to his reputation and himself, have refrained from a violent and demonstrative antagonism to his old opinions and principles. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his own party in Massachusetts who, at this very hour, are opposed to the whole system of coercion, and shudder at its gigantic horrors of blood and crime. Edward Everett might, at least, have drawn his mantle about him and looked sadly and in silence on the iniquities which he could not prevent. If he could not emulate the grandeur of soul of Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, and plant himself, like that lion hearted probate, in the very path of the hunters, he need not have joined the hungry pack and rushed, panting and howling, in the race for blood. Edward Everett was an orator and a scholar, but posterity will never pronounce him a great man. It requires other qualities than he possessed to constitute that character. The plumage of the swan and the music of the lark combined in one bird would not make an eagle. It does not require either quickness of apprehension, or inventive powers, or oratory and scholarship, to make up greatness. But immovable steadiness of purpose and the most habitual and exclusive devotion to principle are absolutely essential to a great man. Edward Everett might describe the character of Washington, but he never could imitate the qualities which he described. He was simply an artist, an artist of genius perhaps, who could paint a beautiful portrait of a great man, but the original and the painter are two very different persons.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.