Page images
PDF
EPUB

When all the voices were in full chorus and all the batons in full wave and all the orchestra in full triumph, and a hundred anvils under mighty hammers were in full clang, and all the towers of the city rolling in their majestic sweetness, and the whole building quaked with the boom of thirty cannon, Parepa Rosa, with a voice that will never again be equalled on earth until the archangelic voice proclaims that time shall be no longer, rose above all other sounds in her rendering of our national air, the “ Star Spangled Banner.” It was too much for a mortal and quite enough for an immortal to hear, and while some fainted, one womanly spirit, released under its power, sped away to be with God.

O Lord, our God, quickly usher in the whole world's peace jubilee, and all islands of the sea join the five continents, and all the voices and musical instruments of all nations combine, and all the organs that ever sounded requiem of sorrow sound only a grand march of joy, and all the bells that tolled for burial ring for resurrection, and all the cannon that ever hurled death across the nations sound to eternal victory, and over all the acclaim of earth and minstrelsy of heaven there will be heard one voice sweeter and mightier than any human or angelic voice, a voice once full of tears, but then full of triumph, the voice of Christ saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Then, at the laying of the top-stone of the world's history, the same voices shall be heard as when at the laying of the world's corner-stone“ the morning stars sang together."

CHOATE

Jo

OSEPH HODGES CHOATE, an eminent American lawyer and diplomatist,

was born at Salem, Massachusetts, January 24, 1832, and educated at Harvard University. He studied law at the Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1855. In the following year he removed to New York city, where he rapidly rose to eminence in his profession and was connected with many of the most important cases tried in that city. During the political campaign of 1856 Choate made many speeches in support of Frémont, the Free-Soil candidate for the Presidency, and after that time belonged to the Republican party, although strongly opposed to machine management. In 1898, as president of the American Bar Association, he made a memorable address before it in defence of trial by jury. He was president of the New York State constitutional convention in 1894, but until 1898 had held no political office. At the close of that year he succeeded John Hay as ambassador to England, in which capacity he was exceedingly popular both in England and at home.

ORATION ON RUFUS CHOATE

'DELIVERED AT THE UNVEILING OF THE STATUE OF RUFUS CHOATE

IN THE COURT HOUSE OF BOSTON, OCTOBER 15, 1898

M

ANY a noted orator, many a great lawyer, has been

lost in oblivion in forty years after the grave closed

over him, but I venture to believe that the bar of Suffolk, aye, the whole bar of America, and the people of Massachusetts, have kept the memory of no other man alive and green so long, so vividly and so lovingly, as that of Rufus Choate. Many of his characteristic utterances have become proverbial and the flashes of his wit, the play of his fancy, and the gorgeous pictures of his imagination are the constant themes of reminiscence wherever American lawyers assemble for social converse.

What Mr. Dana so well said over bis bier is still true to-day: “When as lawyers we meet together in tedious hours and seek to entertain ourselves, we find we do

better with anecdotes of Mr. Choate than on our own original resources." The admirable biography of Professor Brown and his arguments, so far as they have been preserved, are text-books in the profession-and so the influence of his genius, character, and conduct is still potent and far-reaching in the land.

You will not expect me, upon such an occasion, to enter upon any narrative of his illustrious career, so familiar to you all, or to undertake any analysis of those remarkable powers which made it possible. All that has been done already by many appreciative admirers and has become a part of American literature. I can only attempt, in a most imperfect manner, to present a few of the leading traits of that marvellous personality which we hope that this striking statue will help to transmit to the students, lawyers and citizens who, in the coming years, shall throng these portals.

How it was that such an exotic nature, so ardent and trop ical in all its manifestations, so truly southern and Italian in its impulses, and at the same time so robust and sturdy in its strength, could have been produced upon the bleak and barren soil of our northern cape and nurtured under the chilling blasts of its east winds is a mystery insoluble. Truly “ this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."

In one of his speeches in the Senate he draws the distinction between " the cool and slow New England men and the mercurial children of the sun who sat down side by side in the presence of Washington to form our more perfect union."

If ever there was a mercurial child of the sun, it was himself most happily described. I am one of those who believe that the stuff that a man is made of has more to do with his career than any education or environment. The greatness

that is achieved, or is thrust upon some men, dwindles before that of him who is born great. His horoscope was propitious. The stars in their courses fought for him. The birthmark of genius, distinct and ineffaceable, was on his brow. He came of a long line of pious and devout ancestors, whose living was as plain as their thinking was high. It was from father and mother that he derived the flame of intellect, the glow of spirit, and the beauty of temperament that were 80 unique.

And his nurture to manhood was worthy of the child. It was “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” From that rough pine cradle, which is still preserved in the room where he was born, to his premature grave at the age of fifty-nine, it was one long course of training and discipline of mind and character, without pause or rest. It began with that wellthumbed and dog's-eared Bible from Hog Island, its leaves actually worn away by the pious hands that had turned them, read daily in the family from January to December, in at Genesis and out at Revelations every two years; and when a new child was born in the household the only celebration, the only festivity, was to turn back to the first chapter and read once more how “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and all that in them is.

This book, so early absorbed and never forgotten, saturated his mind and spirit more than any other, more than all other books combined. It was at his tongue's end, at his fingers' ends—always close at hand until those last languid hours at Halifax, when it solaced his dying meditations. hardly find speech, argument or lecture of his, from first to last, that is not sprinkled and studded with biblical ideas and pictures and biblical words and phrases. To him the book of Job was a sublime poem. He knew the Psalms by heart

You can

He pono

and dearly loved the prophets, and above all Isaiah, upon whose gorgeous imagery he made copious drafts. dered every word, read with most subtle keenness, and applied with happiest effect. One day, coming into the Crawford House, cold and shivering—and you remember how he. could shiver-he caught sight of the blaze in the great fireplace and was instantly warm before the rays could reach him, exclaiming “Do you remember that verse in Isaiah, 'Aha! I am warm. I have seen the fire?'” and so his daily conversation was marked.

And upon this solid rock of the Scriptures he built a magnificent structure of knowledge and acquirement, to which few men in America have ever attained. History, philosophy, poetry, fiction, all came as grist to his mental mill. But with him time was too precious to read any trash; he could winnow the wheat from the chaff at sight, almost by touch. He sought knowledge, ideas, for their own sake and for the language in which they were conveyed.

I have heard a most learned jurist gloat over the purchase of the last sensational novel, and have seen a most distinguished bishop greedily devouring the stories of Gaboriau one after another, but Mr. Choate seemed to need no such counter-irritant or blister to draw the pain from his hurt mind. Business, company, family, sickness-nothing could rob him of his one hour each day in the company of illustrious writers of all ages. How his whole course of thought was tinged and embellished with the reflected light of the great Greek orators, historians and poets; how Roman history, fresh in the mind as the events of yesterday, supplied him with illustrations and supports for his own glowing thoughts and arguments, all of you who have either heard him or read him know.

« PreviousContinue »