For hours the eloquence of Massachusetts
, chastened by the solemnity of the occasion, consecrated the scene.
Hon. Alex. H. Rice
, Gen. N. P. Banks
, Mr. Gaston
, the Democratic Mayor
, Edward Everett Hale
, Richard H. Dana
, and other eminent men spoke.
But perhaps the most affecting words fell from the trembling lips of Hon. Jas. B. Smith
, member of the Legislature for Cambridge
, the personal friend of Mr. Sumner
Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen: I would not appear before you to-day to say a word, for I do not feel able to do it, and I can only say, Massachusetts has lost a Senator, the United States has lost a statesman, the world has lost a philanthropist, and I have lost a friend.
I would not trust myself out here before you to-day except but for one reason.
I shook Mr. Sumner's hand for the last time last Sunday evening, at half-past 8 o'clock. He bade me say to the people of Massachusetts, through their Legislature, this: ‘I thank them for removing that stain from me; I thank those that voted for me. Tell those that voted against me that I forgive them all, for I know if they knew my heart they would not have done it. I knew Massachusetts was brave, and wanted to show to the world that it was magnanimous, too, and that was my reason for my action.’
I have felt that the greatest tribute that I could pay to him for his kindness to me was simply to drop a tear to his memory; but our honored Mayor was kind enough to bring me forth to show you the fruits of his labor.
I can go back to the time when I sat under the eagle in this hall and when I saw some one stand on this platform, and I did wish when I
heard certain expressions that I could sink.
I can go back to my boyhood, when I have seen other boys in their sports and plays, and I would walk off in the woods and say, ‘Oh God, why was I born.’
I can remember forty-five years ago, on a Christmas Day, passing through the orchard and saw a silk-worm hanging to the leaf of a tree, when my eyes turned up to my God, and I said, ‘Why am I here?’
There hangs something out of the cold, but it will be a butterfly.
I took it home, hung it in the room, put it where it was warm, and it hatched out before the atmosphere was prepared to receive it. I lifted the window and it flew off, but had to return, as it could not stand the atmosphere.
And just so was I brought forth by the eloquence of Charles Sumner, and I have been turned loose on the public atmosphere, for really I had to suffer intensely; and I could only feel at home and feel well when I turned back into his presence, and his arms were always open to receive me. (Applause.)
And now, Mr. Mayor, our ship in which he has commanded is still adrift.
We are standing out now in the open sea, with a great storm, and in behalf of those five millions of people of the United States, I beg of you to give us a good man to take hold where he left off. (Applause.)
We are not educated up to that point.
We cannot speak for ourselves.
We must depend upon others.
We stand to-day like so many little children, whose parents have passed away.
We can weep, but we don't understand it; we can weep, but we must beg of you to give us a man who will still lead us forward until we shall have accompanied all those thousands for which he offered his life.
Mr. Mayor, I thank you for this.
I have appeared in Faneuil Hall many times.
If I was only able to, if I only had his tongue, if I could only thank him for what he has done, but I cannot; but such as I have I give him. (Applause.) Mr. Mayor, I second the resolutions.
Of the letter read from Charles Francis Adams
, the Globe
Last, but not least, the tribute of such a conservative statesman as Charles Francis Adams to the great qualities of his friend and associate of many years was worthy of the historic name he bears, and makes us take fresh courage when we think of what virtues still dignify the character and lives of some of our public men. Sumner lives again in these eloquent words of recognition of his noble services and life,
and the memorial that is suggested in the resolutions will fitly supplement the monumental career that he has left for our example and guidance.
This memorial will, we trust, preserve for many generations the likeness of the great man whose mortal remains are, to-day, to be borne through our streets and laid beneath the sods of Mount Auburn.