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Theodore Parker (1860).


From the Proceedings of the New England Antislavery Convention at the Melodeon, Boston, May 31, 1860.

The following resolutions were offered by Wendell Phillips:--

Resolved, That in the death of our beloved friend and fellow-laborer Theodore Parker, liberty, justice, and truth lose one of their ablest and foremost champions,--one whose tireless industry, whose learning, the broadest, most thorough, and profound New England knows, whose masterly intellect, melted into a brave and fervent heart, earned for him the widest and most abiding influence; in the service of truth and right, lavish of means, prodigal of labor, fearless of utterance; the most Christian minister at God's altar in all our Commonwealth; one of the few whose fidelity saves the name of the ministry from being justly a reproach and by-word with religious and. thinking men; a kind, true heart, full of womanly tenderness; the object of the most unscrupulous even of bigot and priestly hate, yet: on whose garments bitter and watchful malice found no stain; laying on the altar the fruits of the most unresting toil, yet ever ready — as the idlest to man any post of daily and humble duty at any moment. In him we lose that strong sense, deep feeling, and love of right for whose eloquent voice millions waited in every hour of darkness and peril ; whose last word came, fitly, across the water a salutation and a blessing to the kindred martyrs of Harper's Ferry; a storehouse of the lore of every language and age; the armory of a score of weapons sacred to right; the leader whose voice was the bonds of a mighty host; the friend ever sincere, loyal, and vigilant; a man, whose fidelity was attested equally by the trust of those who loved him, and the hate of everything selfish, heartless, and base in the land. In time to come the slave will miss keenly that voice always heard in his behalf, and which a nation was learning to heed; and [422] whoever anywhere lifts a hand for any victim of wrong and sin, will be lonelier and weaker for the death we mourn to-day.

Resolved, That a copy of the above resolution be sent to Mrs. Parker, with fit expression of our most sincere and respectful sympathy in this hour of her bitter grief and sad bereavement.

Another friend is gone. Not gone! No, with us, only standing one step higher than he did. To such spirits, there is no death. In the old times, when men fought with spears, the warrior hurled his weapon into the thickest of the opposite host, and struggled bravely on, until he stood over it and reclaimed it. In the bloom of his youth, Theodore Parker flung his heart forward at the feet of the Eternal; he has only struggled onward and reached it to-day. Only one step higher!

Wail ye may full well for Scotland,
Let none dare to mourn for him.

How shall we group his qualities? The first that occurs to me is the tireless industry of that unresting brain which never seemed to need leisure. When some engagement brought me home in the small hours of the morning, many and many a time have I looked out (my own window commands those of his study), and seen that unquenched light burning,--that unflagging student ever at work. Half curious, half ashamed, I lay down, saying with the Athenian, “The trophies of Miltiades will not let me sleep.” He seemed to rebuke me even by the light that flashed from the window of his study. I have met him on the cars deep in some strange tongue, or hiving up knowledge to protect the weak and hated of his own city. Neither on the journey nor at home did his spirit need to rest.

Why is he dead? Because he took up the burden of three men. A faithful pulpit is enough for one man. He filled it until the fulness of his ideas overflowed into [423] other channels. It was not enough. His diocese extended to the prairies. On every night of the week, those brave lips smothered bigotry, conquered prejudice, and melted true hearts into his own on the banks of the Mississippi. This was enough for two men. But he said, “I will bring to this altar of Reform a costlier offering yet,” and he gathered the sheaf of all literature into his bosom, and came with another man's work,--almost all the thoughts of all ages and all tongues,--as the background of his influence in behalf of the slave. He said, “Let no superficial scholarship presume to arraign Reform as arrogant and empty fanaticism. I will overtop your candidates with language and law, and show you, in all tongues, by arguments hoar with antiquity, the rightfulness and inevitable necessity of justice and liberty.” Enough work for three men to do; and he sank under the burden.

Lord Bacon says, “Studies teach not their own use; that comes from a wisdom without them and above them.” The fault of New England scholarship is that it knows not its own use; that, as Bacon says, “it settles in its fixed ways, and does not seek reformation.” The praise of this scholar is, that, like the great master of English philosophy, he was content to light his torch at every man's candle. He was not ashamed to learn. When he started in the pulpit, he came a Unitarian, with the blessings of Cambridge. Men say he is a Unitarian no longer; but the manna, when it was kept two days, bred maggots, and the little worms that run about on the surface of corruption call themselves the children and representatives of Channing. They are only the worms of the manna, and the pulpit of Federal Street found its child at Music Hall. God's lineage is not of blood., Brewster of Plymouth, if he stood here to-day, would not be in the Orthodox Church, counting on his anxious fingers [424] the five points of Calvin. No! he would be shouldering a Sharpe's rifle in Kansas, fighting against the libels of the Independent and Observer, preaching treason in Virginia, and hung on an American gibbet; for the child of Puritanism is not mere Calvinism,--it is the loyalty to justice which tramples under foot the wicked laws of its own epoch. So Unitarianism — so far as it has any worth — is not standing in the same pulpit, or muttering the same shibboleth; it is, like Channing, looking into the face of a national sin and, with lips touched like Isaiah's, finding it impossible not to launch at it the thunderbolt of God's rebuke.

Old Lyman Beecher said, “If you want to find the successor of Saint Paul, seek him where you find the same objections made to a preacher that were made to Saint Paul.” Who won the hatred of the merchant-princes of Boston? Whom did State Street call a madman? The fanatic of Federal Street in 1837. Whom, with unerring instinct, did that same herd of merchant-princes hate, with instinctive certainty that, in order that their craft should be safe, they ought to hate him? The Apostle of Music Hall. That is enough.

When some Americans die — when most Americans die — their friends tire the public with excuses. They confess this spot, they explain that stain, they plead circumstances as the half justification of that mistake, and they beg of us to remember that nothing but good is to be spoken of the dead. .We need no such mantle for that green grave under the sky of Florence,--no excuses, no explanations, no spot. Priestly malice has scanned every inch of his garment,--it was seamless; it could find no stain. History, as in the case of every other of her beloved children, gathers into her bosom the arrows which malice had shot at him, and says to posterity, “Behold the title-deeds of your gratitude!” We ask no [425] moment to excuse, there is nothing to explain. What the snarling journal thought bold, what the selfish politician feared as his ruin,--it was God's seal set upon his apostleship. The little libel glanced across him like a rocket when it goes over the vault; it is passed, and the royal sun shines out as beneficent as ever.

When I returned from New York on the thirteenth day of this month, I was to have been honored by standing in his desk, but illness prevented my fulfilling the appointment. It was eleven o'clock in the morning. As he sank away the same week, under the fair sky of Italy, he said to the most loving of wives and of nurses, “Let me be buried where I fall ;” and tenderly, thoughtfully, she selected four o'clock of the same Sunday to mingle his dust with the kindred dust of brave, classic Italy.

Four o'clock! The same sun that looked upon the half-dozen mourners that he permitted to follow him to the grave, that same moment of brightness lighted up the arches of his own Temple, as one whom he loved stepped into his own desk, and with remarkable coincidence, for the only time during his absence, opened one of his own sermons to supply my place; and as his friend read the Beatitudes over his grave on the banks of the Arno, his dearer friend here read from a manuscript the text, “Have faith in God.” It is said that, in his last hours, in the wandering of that masterly brain, he murmured, “There are two Theodore Parkers,--one rests here, dying, but the other lives, and is at work at home.” How true! at that very instant, his own words were sinking down into the hearts of those that loved him best, and bidding them, in this, the loneliest hour of their bereavement, “Have faith in God.”

He always came to this platform. He is an old occupant of it. He never made an apology for coming to it. I remember many years ago, going home from the very [426] hall which formerly occupied this place. He had sat where you sit, in the seats, looking up to us. It had been a stormy, hard gathering,--a close fight; the press calumniating us; every journal in Boston ridiculing the idea which we were endeavoring to spread. As I passed down the stairs homeward, he put his arm within mine, and said, “You shall never need to ask me again to share that platform.” It was the instinct of his nature, true as the bravest heart. The spot for him was where the battle was hottest. He had come, as half the clergy come,--a critic. He felt it was not his place; that it was to grapple with the tiger, and throttle him. And the pledge that he made he kept; for, whether here or in New York, as his reputation grew, when that lordly mammoth of the press, the Tribune, overgrown in its independence and strength, would not condescend to record a word that Mr. Garrison or I could utter, but bent low before the most thorough scholarship of New England, and was glad to win its way to the confidence of the West by being his mouthpiece,--with that weapon of influence in his right hand, he always placed himself at our side, and in the midst of us, in the capital State of the Empire.

You may not think this great praise; we do. Other men have brought us brave hearts; other men have brought us keen-sighted and vigilant intellects,--but he brought us, as no one else could, the loftiest stature of New England culture. He brought us a disciplined intellect, whose statement was evidence, and whose affirmation the most gifted student hesitated long before he ventured to doubt or to contradict. When we had nothing but our characters, nothing but our reputation for accuracy, for our weapons, the man who could give to the cause of the slave that weapon was indeed one of its ablest and foremost champions. [427]

Lord Bacon said in his will, “I leave my name and memory to foreign lands, and to my countrymen, after some time be passed.” No more fitting words could be chosen, if the modesty of the friend who has just gone before us would have permitted him to adopt them for himself. To-day, even within twenty-four hours, I have seen symptoms of that repentance which Johnson describes--

When nations, slowly wise and meanly just,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust.

The men who held their garments aside, and desired to have no contact with Music Hall, are beginning to show symptoms that they will be glad, when the world doubts whether they have any life left, to say, “Did not Theodore Parker spring from our bosom?”

Ye; be takes his place-his serene place — among those few to whom Americans point as & proof that the national heart is still healthy and alive. Most of our statesmen, most of our politicians, go down into their graves, and we cover them up with apologies; we walk with reverent and filial love backward, and throw the mantle over their defects, and say, “Remember the temptation and the time!” Now and then one-now and then one goes up silently, and yet not unannounced, like the stars at their coming, and takes his place, while all eyes follow him and say, “Thank God i It is the promise and the herald! It is the nation alive at its heart! God has not left us without a witness, for his children have been among us, and one half have known them by love, and one half have known them by hate,--equal attestations to the divine life that has passed through our streets.”

I wish I could say anything worthy; but he should have done for us, with the words that never failed to be [428] fitting, with that heart that was always ready, with that eloquence which you never waited for and were disappointed,--he should have done for us what we vainly try to do for him. Farewell, brave, strong friend and helper!

Sleep in peace with kindred ashes
Of the noble and the true;
Hands that never failed their country,
Hearts that baseness never knew!


At the Memorial Service of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, in Music Hall, on Sunday, June 17, 1860.

The lesson of this desk is Truth! That your brave teacher dared to speak, and no more. It is only two or three times in our lives that we pause in telling the whole merit of a friend, from fear of being thought flatterers. What the world thinks easily done, it believes; all beyond is put down to fiction. I find myself hesitating ,to speak just all I think of Theodore Parker, lest those --who did not know him should suppose I flatter, and thus 31 mar the massive simplicity of his fame.

Born on the 24th of August, 1810, he died just before finishing his fiftieth year. He said to me, years ago, “When I am fifty, I will leave the pulpit, and finish the great works I have planned.” God ordered it so! He has left this desk, and gone there to finish the great works that he planned! Some speak of his death as early; but he died in good old age, if we judge him by [429] his work,--full of labors, if not of years, a long life crowded into a few years; as Bacon says, “Old in hours, for he lost no time.” Truly, he lost not an hour, from the early years,--when in his sweet, plain phrase, he tells us, “his father let the baby pick up chips, drive the cows to pasture, and carry nubs of corn to the oxen,” --far on to the closing moment when, faint and dying, he sent us his blessing and brave counsel last November, dated fitly from Rome. God granted him life long enough to see of the labor of his hands. He planted broadly, and lived to gather a rich, ripe harvest. His life, too, was an harmonious whole,--

when brought
Among the tasks of real life, he wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his childish thought.

The very last page those busy fingers ever wrote, tells the child's story, than which, he says, “no event in my life has made so deep and lasting an impression on me. ... A little boy in petticoats, in my fourth year, my father sent me from the field home.” A spotted tortoise, in shallow water at the foot of a rhodora, caught his sight, and he lifted his stick to strike it, when “a voice within said, ‘ It is wrong.’ I stood with lifted stick, in wonder at the new emotion, till rhodora and tortoise vanished from my sight. I hastened home, and asked my mother what it was that told me it was wrong. Wiping a tear with her apron, and taking me in her arms, she said, ‘Some men call it conscience; but I prefer to call it the voice of God in the soul of man. If you listen to it and obey it, then it will speak clearer and clearer, and always guide you right. But if you turn a deaf ear or disobey, then it will fade out, little by little, and leave you in the dark and without a guide! ’ ” Out of that tearful mother's arms grew your [430] pulpit. Here in words, every day in the streets by deed — as during a hard life, he repeated and obeyed her counsel.

Of that pulpit, its theology, and its treatment by Unitarian divines, manly and Christian lips spoke to us two weeks ago. It is not for me, even if there were need, to touch on it Born in that faith, and nurtured in similar maxims of the utmost liberty and the duty of individual investigation and thought, I used it to enter other paths. Mine is the old faith of New England. On those points he and I rarely talked. What he thought, I hardly know. For myself, standing beneath the Gospel rule of “judging men by their fruits,” I should have felt stronger in defending my own faith, could I have pointed to any preacher of it who as gently judged and as truly loved his fellow-men. As to doctrines, we both knew that “the whole of truth can never do harm to the whole of virtue;” that, of course, a man's conception of truth is only his opinion, and not, necessarily, absolute truth. But it is always safe and wise for honest and earnest men to seek for truth everywhere and at all hazards. The results, if not wholly and only good, are yet the best things within our reach.

The lesson of Theodore Parker's preaching was love. Let me read for you a sonnet still among his papers:

O Brother! who for us didst meekly wear
The Crown of Thorns about thy radiant brow,--
What Gospel from the Father didst thou bear,
Our hearts to cheer, making us happy now?
“Tis this alone,” the immortal Saviour cries--
'To fill thy heart with ever active love,--
Love for the wicked as in sin he lies,
Love for thy brother here, thy God above.
And thus to find thy earthly, heavenly prize.
Fear nothing ill; 't will vanish in its day;
Live for the good, taking the ill thou must;
Toil with thy might, with manly labor pray;
Living and loving, learn thy God to trust,
And he will shed upon thy soul the blessings of the just.'


Standing in the old ways, I cannot but suspect these Unitarian pulpits of some latent and cowardly distrust of their own creed, when I see that if one comes from them to our Orthodox ranks, and believes a great deal more than they do, he is treated with reverend respect; but let him go out on the other side, and believe a very little less, and the whole startled body join in begging the world not to think them naturally the parents of such horrible and dangerous heresy.

But there is one thing every man may say of this pulpit,--it was a live reality and no sham. Whether tearing theological idols to pieces at West Roxbury, or here battling with the every-day evils of the streets, it was ever a live voice, and no mechanical or parrot-tune; ever fresh from the heart of God, as these flowers, these lilies, the last flower over which, when eyesight failed him, with his old gesture he passed his loving hand, and said, “How sweet!” As in that story he loved so much to tell of Michael Angelo, when in the Roman palace Raphael was drawing his figures too small, Angelo sketched a colossal head of fit proportions, and taught Raphael his fault, so Parker criticized these other pulpits, not so much by censure as by creation — by a pulpit, proportioned to the hour, broad as humanity, frank as truth, stern as justice, and loving as Christ.

Here is the place to judge him. In St. Paul's Cathedral, the epitaph says, if you would know the genius of Christopher Wren, “look around.” Do you ask proof how full were the hands, how large the heart, how many-sided the brain of your teacher?--listen, and you will hear it in the glad, triumphant certainty of your enemies that you must close these doors, since his place can never be filled! Do you ask proof of his efficient labor and the good soil into which that seed fell?--gladden your eyes by looking back and seeing for how many months the impulse [432] his vigorous hand gave you has sufficed, spite of boding prophecy, to keep these doors open! Yes; he has left those accustomed to use weapons, and not merely to hold up his hands. And not only among yourselves; from another city I received a letter full of deep feeling, and the writer, an Orthodox church-member, says:--

I was a convert to Theodore Parker before I was a convert to--. If there is anything of value in the work I am doing to-day, it may in an important sense be said to have had its root in Parker's heresy,--I mean the habit without which Orthodoxy stands emasculated and good for nothing, of independently passing on the empty and rotten pretensions of churches and churchmen, which I learned earliest and more than from any other from Theodore Parker. He has my love, my respect, my admiration.

Yes, his diocese is broader than Massachusetts; his influence extends very far outside these walls. Every pulpit in Boston is freer and more real to-day because of the existence of this. The fan of his example scattered the chaff of a hundred sapless years. Our whole city is fresher to-day because of him. The most sickly and timid soul under yonder steeple, hide-bound in days and forms and beggarly Jewish elements, little dreams how ten times worse and narrower it was before this sun warmed the general atmosphere around. As was said of Burke's unsuccessful impeachment of Warren Hastings, “never was the great object of punishment, the prevention of crime, more completely obtained. Hastings was acquitted; but tyranny and injustice were condemned wherever English was spoken,” so we may say of Boston and Theodore Parker. Grant that few adopted his extreme theological views, that not many sympathized in his politics, still, that Boston is nobler, purer, braver, more loving, more Christian to-day, is due more to him [433] than to all the pulpits that vex her Sabbath air. He raised the level of sermons intellectually and morally. Other preachers were compelled to grow in manly thought and Christian morals in very self-defence. The droning routine of dead metaphysics or dainty morals was gone. As Christ preached of the fall of the tower of Siloam the week before and what men said of it in the streets of Jerusalem, so Parker rung through our startled city the news of some fresh crime against humanity,--some slave-hunt or wicked court or prostituted official,--till frightened audiences actually took bond of their new clergymen that they should not be tormented before their time!

Men say he erred on that great question of our age,--the place due to the Bible. Perhaps so. But William Crafts--one of the bravest men who ever fled from our vulture to Victoria — writes to a friend: “When the slave-hunters were on our track, and no other minister, except yourself, came to direct our attention to the God of the oppressed, Mr. Parker came with his wise counsel, and told us where and how to go; gave us money. But that was not all: he gave me a weapon to protect our liberties, and a Bible to guide our souls. I have that Bible now, and shall ever prize it most highly.”

How direct and frank his style,--just level to the nation's ear. No man ever needed to read any one of his sentences twice to catch its meaning. None suspected that he thought other than he said, or more than he confessed.

Like all such men, he grew daily,--never too old to learn. Mark how closer to actual life, how much bolder in reform, are all his later sermons, especially since he came to the city; every year a step-

forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpassed.


There are men whom we measure by their times,--content, and expecting to find them subdued to what they work in. They are the chameleons of circumstance; they are Aeolian harps, toned by the breeze that sweeps over them. There are others who serve as guide-posts and land-marks; we measure their times by them. Such was Theodore Parker. Hereafter the critic will use him as a mete-wand to measure the heart and civilization of Boston. Like the Englishman, a year or two ago, who suspected our great historian could not move in the best circles of the city when it dropped out that he did not know Theodore Parker, distant men gauge us by our toleration and recognition of him. Such men are our Nilometers; the harvest of the future is according to the height that the flood of our love rises round them. Who cares now that Harvard vouchsafed him no honors! But history will save the fact to measure the calculating and prudent bigotry of our times.

Some speak of him only as a bitter critic and harsh prophet. Pulpits and journals shelter their plain speech in mentioning him under the example of what they call his “unsparing candor.” Do they feel that the strangeness of their speech, their unusual frankness, needs apology and example! But he was far other than a bitter critic; though thank God for every drop of that bitterness that came like a wholesome rebuke on the dead, saltless sea of American life! Thank God for every indignant protest, for every Christian admonition that the Holy Spirit breathed through those manly lips! But if he deserved any single word, it was “generous.” Vir generosus is the description that leaps to the lips of every scholar. He was generous of money. Born on a New England farm, in those days when small incomings made every dollar a matter of importance, he no sooner had command of wealth than he lived with open hands. [435] Not even the darling ambition of a great library ever tempted him to close his ear to need. Go to Venice or Vienna, to Frankfort or to Paris, and ask the refugees who have gone back,--when here friendless exiles but for him,--under whose roof they felt most at home! One of our oldest and best teachers writes me that, telling him once in the cars of a young lad of rare mathematical genius who could read Laplace, but whom narrow means debarred from the university, “Let him enter,” said Theodore Parker; “I will pay his bills.”

No sect, no special study, no one idea bounded his sympathy; but he was generous in judgment where a common man would have found it hard to be so. Though he does not “go down to dust without his fame,” though Oxford and Germany sent him messages of sympathy, still no word of approbation from the old grand names of our land, no honors from university or learned academy, greeted his brave, diligent, earnest life. Men can confess that they voted against his admission to scientific bodies for his ideas, feeling all the while that his brain could furnish half the academy; and yet, thus ostracized, he was the most generous, more than just, interpreter of the motives of those about him, and looked on while others reaped where he sowed, with most generous joy in their success. Patiently analyzing character, and masterly in marshalling facts, he stamped with generous justice the world's final judgment of Webster, and now that the soreness of battle is over, friend and foe allow it.

He was generous of labor,--books never served to excuse him from any, the humblest work. Though “hiving wisdom with each studious year,” and passionately devoted to his desk, as truly as was said of Milton, “The lowliest duties on himself he laid.” What drudgery of the street did that scholarly hand ever refuse? Who, so often and so constant as he in the trenches, [436] when a slave case made our city a camp? Loving books, he had no jot of a scholar's indolence or timidity, but joined hands with labor everywhere. Erasmus would have found him good company, and Melanchthon got brave help over a Greek manuscript; but the likeliest place to have found him in that age would have been at Zwingle'a side, on the battlefield, pierced with a score of fanatic spears. For above all things, he was terribly in earnest. If I sought to paint him in one word, I should say he was always in earnest.

I spoke once of his diligence, and we call him tireless, unflagging, unresting. But they are commonplace words, and poorly describe him. What we usually call diligence in educated men does not outdo, does not equal the day-laborer in ceaselessness of toil. No scholar, not even the busiest, but loiters out from his weary books, and feels shamed by the hodman or the plough-boy. The society and amusements of easy life eat up and beguile one half our time. Those on whose lips and motions hang crowds of busy idlers submit to life-long discipline, almost every hour a lesson. Those on whose tones float the most precious truth disdain an effort. The table you write on is the fruit of more toilsome and thorough discipline than the brain of most who deem themselves scholars ever knew. Let us not cheat ourselves with words. But no poor and greedy mechanic, no farm tenant “on shares,” ever distanced this unresting brain. He brought into his study that conscientious, loving industry which six generations had handed down to him on tile hard soil of Massachusetts. He loved work, and I doubt if any workman in our empire equalled him in thoroughness of preparation. Before he wrote his review of Prescott, he went conscientiously through all the printed histories of that period in three or four tongues. Before he ventured to [437] paint for you the portrait of John Quincy Adams, he read every line Adams ever printed, and all the attacks upon him that could be found in public or private collections.

Fortunate man! he lived long enough to see the eyes of the whole nation turned toward him as to a trusted teacher. Fortunate, indeed, in a life so noble, that even what was scorned from the pulpit, will surely become oracular from the tomb! Thrice fortunate, if he loved fame and future influence, that the leaves which bear his thoughts to posterity are not freighted with words penned by sickly ambition or wrung from hunger, but with earnest thoughts on dangers that make the ground tremble under our feet, and the heavens black over our head,--the only literature sure to live. Ambition says, “I will write, and be famous.” It is only a dainty tournament, a sham fight, forgotten when the smoke clears away. Real books are like Yorktown or Waterloo, whose cannon shook continents at the moment, and echo down the centuries. Through such channels Parker poured his thoughts.

And true hearts leaped to his side. No man's brain ever made him warmer friends; no man's heart ever held them firmer. He loved to speak of how many hands he had, in every city, in every land, ready to work for him. With royal serenity he levied on all. Vassal hearts multiplied the great chief's powers. And at home the gentlest and deepest love, saintly, unequalled devotion, made every hour sunny, held off every care, and left him double liberty to work. God comfort that widowed heart!

Judge him by his friends. No man suffered anywhere who did not feel sure of his sympathy. In sick chambers, and by the side of suffering humanity, he kept his heart soft and young. No man lifted a hand [438] anywhere for truth and right who did not look on Theodore Parker as his fellow-laborer. When men hoped for the future, this desk was one stone on which they planted their feet. Where more frequent than around his board would you find men familiar with Europe's dungeons and the mobs of our own streets? Wherever the fugitive slave might worship, here was his Gibraltar. Over his mantel, however scantily furnished, in this city or elsewhere, you were sure to find a picture of Parker.

But he is gone!. So certain was he of his death that, in the still watches of the Italian night, he comforted the sickening hopes of those about him by whispering,--

I hear a voice you cannot hear,
Which says I must not stay;
I see a hand you cannot see,
Which beckons me away.

But where shall we stop? This empty desk You may fill it, but where is he who called it into being? Who shall make it so emphatically the symbol of free thought? To have stood here was, for most men, sufficient credential. Here the young knight earned his spurs. Around it has swelled and tossed the battle of Christian liberty. The debate whether Theodore Parker should speak in one place or preach in another, has been one of God's chief methods of teaching this land the lesson of what bigots style toleration, and freemen better call Christian liberty.

He has passed on; we linger. That other world grows more real to us as friend after friend enters it. Soon more are there than on this side; soon our hearts are more than half there: God tenderly sunders the few ties that still bind us. So live that when called to join that other assembly, we shall feel we are only [439] passing from an apprenticeship of thought and toil to broader fields and a higher teacher above.

The blessings of the poor are his laurels. Say that his words won doubt and murmur to trust in a loving God,--let that be his record! Say that to the hated and friendless, he was shield and buckler,--let that be his epitaph! The glory of children is the fathers. When you voted “that Theodore Parker should be heard in Boston,” God, honored you. Well have you kept the pledge. In much labor and with many sacrifices he has laid the corner-stone. His work is ended here. God, calls you to put on the top-stone. Let fearless lips and Christian lives be his monument!

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