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of Governors and Judges and Senators, historians, authors, clergymen, and physicians, who are patrons of learning as well as heroes. Perhaps no New England town can show so many names of such distinction in two hundred and forty
A citizen of Roxbury was counsel for the War Department in the gravest questions and darkest years of the Government. Every child in America has read and studied the Histories, the Geographies, the Readers and Speakers of citizens of Roxbury. Roxbury was the seat of the most curious contribution to transcendental thought and life in America. The Dudleian Lectures and the Bussey Institute constitute part of the debt of Harvard College to the citizens of this town. The Constitution of Massachusetts owes to a citizen of Roxbury the insertion, in her bill of rights, of the immortal words " All men are born free and equal.” And this clause was then introduced with the intention of putting an end to slavery in Massachusetts. The tongues of Europe and Asia have translated, and are this day translating, words of beauty and power that were written forty years ago by a citizen of Roxbury, and passed through hundreds of editions, in aid of the Temperance Reform.
If I turn my eye to the Governors of Massachusetts, who were sons of Roxbury by birth, another, who was her citizen by temporary residence, and who is a respected example of the great Puritan virtue, equilibrium under influence, meets my eye.
An hour's oration is not long enough to recite the merits of those who, as well as he, have enjoyed her municipal honors.
Shall I speak of her later soldiers? If name after name comes before me, fond voices whisper in my ear, "I, too, can lead you to a hero's grave.” The choice which I, perhaps, might make, retires from my embarrassed lips. In illustration more than in eulogy, I have mentioned Warren. He is the representative soldier of this town for other and later generations than his own. Many of "the three hundred” were as brave as Leonidas; but he stands for all Sparta, and all time. The splendor of his fortune prevents all throb of envy. No one can blame me if I name one other, whose achievement will never be forgotten till the pilgrim can walk dry shod from Calais to Dover. What American can ever forget that ecstatic nineteenth of April, 1864, when the Kearsarge went into the British channel with the Alabama, and came out of it alone? The God of vengeance chose the place, that England might never scowl across the water into French eyes again without seeing the grave of HER pirate. Commodore John A. Winslow, of kin to the Pilgrim blood, who thrilled the nation twelve years ago by that victory over the selfishness of England, was a resident of Roxbury for nearly thirty years.
The fervor of that old praying, reasoning, fighting, but self-controlled, Puritan blood has never failed to mark the historic page. Little peculiarities of to-day show the old marked influence on the habit of mind, and on the staid severity of manner. The peculiar Puritanic habit of giving such names as Mercy, Faithful, Increase, and Desire, has forgotten the cause of an effect which remains. The odd trick of addressing a child by every one of his names when impressiveness is intended, may be traced to the Puritanic
age and the Roundhead habit of giving whole texts from the Bible as baptismal names, in order to constantly impress a Gospel truth. So that, when a country mother sharply addresses her son,
George Washington Franklin Jones ! what do you mean?” we are hearing the echo of the ancient time in which names were impressively recited as texts in full, when addressing "Faint Not Hewitt," "God Reward Smart," " Kill Sin Pimple," e Fight the good fight of Faith White,” and that most remarkable of all, " If Christ had not died for you, you had been damned Barebone,” -- all of which Hume mentions.
How changed is the town since the pastor of the Third Church of Jamaica Plain, the Reverend Doctor William Gordon, wrote his history of the American war! For Roxbury claims this historian.
These streets and this hill had then recently felt the tread of Washington. Here he had visited the lines of Heath, and Ward, and Thomas, in the most anxious moments of his life. Over this hill that majestic form had passed to occupy the Heights of Dorchester.
To go to Boston we must pass through works beyond Roxbury street, and, traversing the Neck sometimes up to the horses' knees in salt water, meet opposing works at Dover street, which commanded Boston Neck, and poured shot and shell on the spot where we stand. For Boston and Roxbury are at war in 1775.
But how much more vastly changed is the nation which has passed through battles to which Bunker Hill was only skirmish fire ! The centennial year of the nation shall to-day spread the mantle of silence over the graves of men
whose sires once fell in a
causes under the eye of Washington.
The wounds that yet fester will heal. The nation is yet in its youth. Heirs of the three centuries that have passed since our first settlers were born, let us take a moment's retrospect, and imagine what the future can have in store for those who will smile at our quaint words and ways.
Shakespeare was not of much account when Thomas Dudley first put on a uniform, about a dozen years before Milton was born.
When the Spanish Armada was defeated, and Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded, Dudley was a big boy. In his time there were plenty of men living who had heard Columbus denounced as an impostor for begging money for a big humbug in the Atlantic. John Eliot was teaching the Indians, about the time that the Mantchoo Tartars conquered China, and a generation before Peter the Great was born. The Ministers' tomb, down here in Roxbury street, had been closed half a century on John Eliot's dust, before Frederic the Great ascended the Prussian throne. And Dudley had rested in his grave one hundred and fifteen years before Captain Cook sailed round the world and discovered the Sandwich Islands.
The face of Europe has been changed over and over again since this church in Rocksborough was settled. " The Free Grammar Schoole” is venerable. Since it was founded Russia has had a dozen rulers; Poland and Hungary have vanished; the Ottoman power has been destroyed; Algeria has become a part of the French Empire; the British East Indian Empire and the title of "Great Britain” itself have been created ; in France, the Empire of the first Napoleon, with the change that he made of States and crowns, its fields of Marengo and Austerlitz, the Russian campaign, and Waterloo, and Elba, and St. Helena, - all this in the history of France, — is one item only in her change ; for not only the first, but the second empire, the revolutions, the republics, Louis Philippe, the whole royal house of Bourbon and three or four monarchs of the house of Valois, have vanished ; Germany has seen her empires and confederations come and go and come again ; and Great Britain has spent in war a dozen thousand millions of dollars, often without much thought, — all this, and vastly more, since " with many imparlances and days of humiliation by those of Roxbury, to seek the Lord for Mr. Welde his disposing,” Mr. Welde resolved "to sit downe with them of Roxbury.”
But I believe that those old Puritan "days of humiliation to seek the Lord,” and the habit of mind evolved thereby, created the New England fibre, and the best that it has done in arts and arms. Science may sneer at the idea of changing a link in an eternal chain of cause and effect. But when the vital and spiritual element is a factor in a problem, her instruments and deductions lose their certainty. We know that our whole life is based on the power to change events. Otherwise we should never strive, nor command, nor urge, nor fight, nor It is folly to believe all life and consciousness are a fraud.
A French camp would hardly be thought a religious school. But Henry of Navarre with all his gallantries had the fullest faith in praying to God" with agony.” The garden of Gethsemane cannot be subjected to the conditions of scientific investigation; and we know that the prayer was not answered ; and the cup did not pass away. But,