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Southern Men On The Death Of J. Q. Adams

Southern Men On The Death Of J. Q. Adams image Southern Men On The Death Of J. Q. Adams image
Parent Issue
Day
13
Month
April
Year
1848
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

We have seen no remarks upon the melancholy event, which excel the following for touching pathos, pure Ciceronion eloquence, and a just delineation of the character and position of that great Philanthropist and Statesman, from a speech of Mr. Holmes, of South Carolina. We also give a short extract from the speech of Mr. McDowell, of Virginia, on the same occasion, which we consider a gem worthy of preservation - worthy indeed of the subject which called it forth. We occasionally meet with these rare specimens of genius from our countrymen, manifesting an intellectual power and eloquence, of which a Pitt or a Fox might have been justly proud. Such efforts upon such a subject deserve a Nation's gratitude:

Mr. Speaker: The mingled tones of sorrow, like the voice of many waters, have come unto us from a sister State - Massachusetts weeping for her honored son. the State I have the honor in part to represent, once endured with yours a common suffering, battled for a common cause, and rejoiced in a common triumph. Surely, then, it is meet that in this, the day of your affliction, we should mingle our griefs.

When a great man falls, the nation mourns. When a patriarch is removed, the people sorrow. but, my associates, this is no common bereavement. The chain which linked our hearts with the gifted spirits of former times has been suddenly snapped. The lips from which flowed those living and glorious truths which our fathers first uttered have been hushed - ay, hushed in death. Yes, my friends, Death is among us. He has not entered the humble cottage of some unknown and ignoble beggar, but he has knocked audibly at the palace of the nation. His footstep has been heard in the halls of State. he has cloven down his victim in the midst of the counselors of the people, and borne in triumph from among them their gravest, wisest, and most reverend head. Ah! he has taken as a trophy him who was once chief over many statesmen, adorned with virtue, and learning, and truth. He has borne at his chariot wheels a renowned one of the earth.

There is no incident, either in the birth, life, or the death of Mr. Adams, which has not been most intimately woven with the history of this land. Born in the night of his country's tribulation, he heard the first murmurs of discontent, and saw and rejoiced in her first efforts for deliverance. Whilst he was yet a child, he listened with fervid earnestness to the whisperings of freedom, as they were breathed from the lips of the almost inspired men of that day. He caught the fire that was then killed; his eye was illuminated with the first ray of the morning of freedom. He eagerly watched its day-spring, and long ere he departed, it was vouchsafed to him to witness the culminating effulgence of his country's glory. His father saw the promise of the child, and early led him to drink at the fountain of light itself. His youthful thought kindled with the idealism of a Republic whose living features he was destined to behold visibly. Removed early to a distant country, under the eye of his father, he was carefully instructed in the rigid lore of Franklin, as I have myself learned him say. There his expanding mind was opened most readily to the advantages flowing from the conversations and disquisitions of those ardent academicians, who, fired with a zeal for freedom, were now waking the minds of Europe to thoughts of matured reflection, and training their hands to deeds which resulted, as we all have seen, in terrific action. Returning to this country, he entered the cool cloisters of the college, and there, through all its stages, he submitted himself to that discipline of mind which intense study alone can impart; and there, as he was about to emerge from college, first budded forth those hopes which subsequently bloomed into the blushing honors which eh afterwards wore so thick around him. his was not the dreamy life of the schools. He leaped into the arena of activity, to run his career of glorious emulation with the gifted spirits of the earth. He saw the whole of the effort to place the institutions of his country on the stable foundations where they now rest. He saw the colonies emerge into States, and these States cemented into Union, and realizing, in the formation of a confederated Republic, all that his most ardent hopes had pictured in the recesses of the schools.

* * * * * * *

As Secretary of State, he served for eight years, fulfilling all the duties incident to that important trust, just as the country was emerging from a most severe and expensive conflict. From this place he was called to fill the highest office of the Government; and the ability with which he filled that office we all know, and history will delight to record - He crushed no heart beneath the rude grasp of proscription; he left no heritage of widows' cries, or orphans' tears. He disrobed himself with dignity of the vestures of office - not to retire to the shades of Quincy, but, in the maturity of his intellect, in the vigor of his thought to leap into this arena, and to continue, as he had begun, a disciple of freedom, ardently devoted tot he temple-service of his country's good. How in this department he ministered to his country's wants, we all are witnesses. How at the sound of his voice the members of this House were wont to cluster around that now vacant seat, and listen to the counsels of wisdom which fell from the lips of the venerable sage, we can all remember, for it was but of yesterday. But what a change! How wondrous! How Sudden! 'Tis like a vision of the night. That venerable form, as we beheld him two days since, is now cold in death. It was only the last sabbath when in this hall he worshiped with the others, and now his spirit mingles with the noble army of martyrs, and "the spirits of just men made perfect." With him, "this is the end of the earth." He sleeps the sleep that knows no waking. He is gone, and forever. And when the next holy day shall dawn, the light that shall beam on the stately dome of this Capitol will fall with its soft and mellow tints upon the consecrated spot beneath whose turf shall forever sleep the Patriot Father and the Patriot Sage.

Mr. McDowell, of Virginia, rose and addressed the House as follows:

Such, for half a century, Mr. Speaker, has been the eminent position of Mr. Adams in the eyes of his countrymen; his participation in the highest honors which it was theirs to give; his intimate association with controlling events in their national annuls, and with the formation of that public opinion which brought them about; such the veneration and almost universal homage entertained for his intellect and virtues; and such in all respects, his great revelations to their entire Union, and to the daily thought of its growing millions, that on this sad occasion the language of all its parts will be that of lamentation and of tribute. It is not for Massachusetts to mourn alone over a solitary and exclusive bereavement. It is not for her to feel alone a solitary and exclusive sorrow. No sir; no! Her sister Commonwealths gather to her side in this hour of her affliction, and, intertwining their arms with hers, they bend together over the bier of her illustrious son - feeling as she feels, and weeping as she weeps, over a sage, a patriot, and a statesman gone.
It was in these great characteristics of individual and of public man that his country reverenced that son when living, and such, with a painful sense of her common loss, will she deplore him now that he is dead.

Born in our revolutionary day, and brought up in early and cherished intimacy with the fathers and founders of the Republic, he was a living bond of connection between the present and the past - the venerable representative of the memories of another age, and the zealous, watchful, and powerful one of the expectations, interests, and progressive knowledge of his own.

There he sat, with his intense eye upon everything that passed. The picturesque and rare old man, unapproachable by all others, in the unity of his character and in the thousandfold anxieties which centered upon him. No human being never entered this Hall without turning habitually, and with heart-felt deference, first to him; and few ever left it without pausing as they went to pour out their blessings upon that spirit of consecration to the country which brought and which kept him here.

Standing upon the extreme boundary of human life, and disdaining all the relaxations and exemptions of age, his outer frame work only was crumbling away. The glorious engine without still worked on unhurt, uninjured, amid all the dilapidation around it, and worked on with its wonted and its iron power, until the blow was sent from above which crushed into fragments before us. And however appalling that blow, and however profoundly it smote upon our own feelings as we beheld its extinguished effort upon his, where else could it have falling so fitly upon him! Where else would he have been relieved from the yoke of his labors so well as in the field where he bore them? Where else would he himself have been so willing to have yielded up his life as upon the post of duty, and by the side of that very alter to which he had devoted it? - Where but in the Capitol of his country, to which all the throbbings and hopes of his heart had been given, would the dying patriot be so willing that those hopes and throbbings would cease? And where, but from this mansion house of liberty on earth, could this dying Christian more fitly go to his mansion-home of eternal liberty on high?

Beautiful tribute to the illustrious dead! All sectional interests are forgotten; all animosities have passed away, and he, the honored one, possessed of so much wisdom and virtue, remembered as the statesman and philanthropist who so nobly defended the right of petition, and so eloquently please the cause of the oppressed with such bold and fearless energy in the halls of our national assemblies, against the combined influence of interest and talent, of some of the master spirits of the age. But actuated by a high-toned moral sentiment, and inspired by the pure principles of religion, he triumphed!

No deeds of cruelty and blood elevated him to greatness. As has been justly said, "he left no heritage of widow's cries, or orphan's tears" - he was great in his "own pure strength" - in the power of his matchless mind; and that mind found sufficient exercise for its abundant wisdom, virtue, and benevolence, in the services of his country, "to counsel and defend" by those counsels - and in its interest in suffering humanity, wherever it might be found. And now when death has gathered him to the "home of his fathers," the voice of a nation bewails his loss. How gratifying to listen to the voice of South Carolina and Virginia. They mingle their lamentations with Massachusetts, and his country weeps as with one simultaneous movement "she bends o'er the bier of her illustrious son" and most accomplished statesman.

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Subjects
Michigan Liberty Press
Old News