Слике страница
PDF
ePub

gate our loss, and shed the influence of resignation over unfeigned and heartfelt sorrow. We are all penetrated with gratitude to God that the deceased lived so long; that he did so much for himself, his friends, the country, and the world; that his lamp went out, at last, without unsteadiness or flickering. He continued to exercise every power of his mind without dimness or obscuration, and every affection of his heart with no abatement of energy or warmth, till death drew an impenetrable veil between us and him. Indeed, he seems to us now, as in truth he is, not extinguished or ceasing to be, but only withdrawn; as the clear sun goes down at its setting, not darkened, but only no longer seen.

This calamity, Mr. Chief Justice, is not confined to the bar or the courts of this Commonwealth. It will be felt by every bar throughout the land, by every court, and indeed by every intelligent and well-informed man in or out of the profession. It will be felt still more widely, for his reputation had a still wider range. In the High Court of Parliament, in every tribunal in Westminster Hall, in the judicatories of Paris and Berlin, of Scockholm and St. Petersburg, in the learned universities of Germany, Italy, and Spain, by every eminent jurist in the civilized world, it will be acknowledged that a great luminary has fallen from the firmament of public jurisprudence.

Sir, there is no purer pride of country than that in which we may indulge when we see America paying back the great debt of civilization, learning, and science to Europe. In this high re. turn of light for light and mind for mind, in this august reckon. ing and accounting between the intellects of nations, Joseph Story was destined by Providence to act, and did act, an important part. Acknowledging, as we all acknowledge, our obligations to the original sources of English law, as well as of civil liberty, we have seen in our generation copious and salutary streams turning and running backward, replenishing their original fountains, and giving a fresher and a brighter green to the fields of English jurisprudence. By a sort of reversed hereditary transmission, the mother, without envy or humiliation, acknowledges that she has received a valuable and cherished inheritance from the daughter. The profession in England admits, with frankness and candor, and with no feeling but that of respect and admiration, that he whose voice we have so re

[ocr errors]

cently heard within these walls, but shall now hear no more, was, of all men who have yet appeared, most fitted by the com. prehensiveness of his mind, and the vast extent and accuracy of his attainments, to compare the codes of nations, to trace their differences to difference of origin, climate, or religious or political institutions, and to exhibit, nevertheless, their concurrence in those great principles upon which the system of human civilization rests.

Justice, Sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together. Wherever her temple stands, and so long as it is duly honored, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress of our race. And whoever labors on this edifice with usefulness and distinction, whoever clears its foundations, strengthens its pillars, adorns its entablatures, or contributes to raise its august dome still higher in the skies, connects himself, in name, and fame, and character, with that which is and must be as durable as the frame of human society.

All know, Mr. Chief Justice, the pure love of country which animated the deceased, and the zeal, as well as the talent, with which he explained and defended her institutions. His work on the Constitution of the United States is one of his most eminently successful labors. But all his writings, and all his judgments, all his opinions, and the whole influence of his character, public and private, leaned strongly and always to the support of sound principles, to the restraint of illegal power, and to the discouragement and rebuke of licentious and disorganizing sentiments. “ Ad rempublicam firmandam, et ad stabiliendas vires, et sanandum populum, omnis ejus pergebat institutio."

But this is not the occasion, Sir, nor is it for me to consider and discuss at length the character and merits of Mr. Justice Story, as a writer or a judge. The performance of that duty, with which this Bar will no doubt charge itself, must be deferred to another opportunity, and will be committed to abler hands. But in the homage paid to his memory, one part may come with peculiar propriety and emphasis from ourselves. We have known him in private life. We have seen him descend from the bench, and mingle in our friendly circles. We have

known his manner of life, from his youth up. We can bear witness to the strict uprightness and purity of his character, his simplicity and unostentatious habits, the ease and affability of his intercourse, his remarkable vivacity amidst severe labors, the cheerful and animating tones of his conversation, and his fast fidelity to friends. Some of us, also, can testify to his large and liberal charities, not ostentatious or casual, but systematic and silent, — dispensed almost without showing the hand, and falling and distilling comfort and happiness, like the dews of heaven. But we can testify, also, that in all his pursuits and employments, in all his recreations, in all his commerce with the world, and in his intercourse with the circle of his friends, the predominance of his judicial character was manifest. He never forgot the ermine which he wore. The judge, the judge, the useful and distinguished judge, was the great picture which he kept constantly before his eyes, and to a resemblance of which all his efforts, all his thoughts, all his life, were devoted. We may go the world over, without finding a man who shall present a more striking realization of the beautiful conception of D'Aguesseau: “C'est en vain que l'on cherche à distinguer en lui la personne privée et la personne publique; un même esprit les anime, un même objet les réunit; l'homme, le père de famille, le citoyen, tout est en lui consacré à la gloire du magistrat."

Mr. Chief Justice, one may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate; but he must die as a man. The bed of death brings every human being to his pure individuality; to the intense contemplation of that deepest and most solemn of all relations, the relation between the creature and his Creator. Here it is that fame and renown cannot assist us; that all external things must fail to aid us; that even friends, affection, and human love and devotedness, cannot succor us. This rela, tion, the true foundation of all duty, a relation perceived and felt by conscience and confirmed by revelation, our illustrious friend, now deceased, always acknowledged. He reverenced the Scriptures of truth, honored the pure morality which they teach, and clung to the hopes of future life which they impart. He beheld enough in nature, in himself, and in all that can be known of things seen, to feel assured that there is a Supreme VOL. II.

26

Power, without whose providence not a sparrow falleth to the ground. To this gracious being he trusted himself for time and for eternity; and the last words of his lips ever heard by mortal cars were a fervent supplication to his Maker to take him to himself.

PUBLIC DINNER AT PHILADELPHIA.

« ПретходнаНастави »