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pointed the second day of August following the fourth of July 1826, to notice the death of these distinguished statesmen. This day was fixed upon because on it, following the fourth of July, 1776, the members of the Continental Congress, who, from absence or other causes had not put their names to the immortal instrument, the Declaration of Independence, now sembled to put the finishing hand to it. On this occasion, the good people of Boston were more than usually enthusiastic, if that were possible, and felt a determination to show their respect for the illustrious dead, with no ordinary demonstrations of funeral insignia. Faneuil Hall was shrouded in mourning—the business of the city was suspended; the colors of the shipping were hoisted half mast, and the bells tolled a solemn peal at appointed hours of the day. Several hours before the ceremonies commenced, the immense galleries of the old cradle of liberty were crowded with ladies, waiting for the orator to appear. The procession was formed at the State House, nearly half a mile from the Hall ; and consisted of a very great number of the most respectable inhabitants of the metropolis ; not more than a tenth of whom could expect to find accommodation for hearing the oration. As the procession passed, the windows and balconies were crowded with citizens with solemn faces, anxious to witness any portion of the honors the people were paying to the mighty dead. The deceased patriots had lived to
Read their history in a nation's eyes;
and now that nation, in this, and in other cities was putting the seal upon their fame by those funeral rites which are performed by the people only for those they loved. The body of Trajan was not so much the object of solemn curiosity as was Pliny's eulogy, in the Senate, upon the virtues of the great Roman. In joy and in grief, there often is a feeling so intense that the mind cannot find repose until the heart has discharged itself in words. Every one was so desirous of getting a look at the speaker, that the populace crowded upon one another to the great danger of life, or limbs. Men, who were accustomed to see the orator almost daily, were just as eager to catch a glimpse of bim as if they now beheld him for the first time. Men love to take their eyes from wandering over the wide expanse that heaven has suffered us to view, and direct them to one object, if such an object is capable of filling the mind. As the crowd thickened and the difficulties of a clear view increased, the exertions to see became more fierce. Many partook of the enthusiasm, who never could give a reason for it.
The world has not much changed from its earliest ages. What Rome felt when her great ruler died, other cities feel now at the exit of their great men ; and the same anxiety to see and hear those who praise them still continues;
“I have seen
As to Jove's statue; and the commons made
The subject was one abounding in incident and full of interest. It stretched through a long measure of history, and was connected with the minute and the general affairs of the Republic. To do justice to the lives of both and to their country, during this period, would require numerous volumes of biography and history. The task was to condense this mass of matter to the compass of a two hours' speech. The biographical sketches of the two great patriots are graphic, spirited, succinct, and stamped with the strictest adherence to plain matter of fact.
Many of the orators and statesmen of the present day in our country affect to think but little of classical learning, and, relying on natural talents, most egregiously underrate the influences and the value of letters. This, however, is owing to their ignorance of the treasures of antiquity. It is natural, for who can estimate properly what he does not, in the slightest degree, understand ? Mr. Webster has given us his own view of the subject in this oration; and this is one on which he should be heard, in particular, for his has been a business rather than a classical life ; and he can justly appreciate the effect of any portion of classical literature.
Literature sometimes, and pretensions to it much oftener, disgusts, by appearing to hang loosely on the
character, like something foreign or extraneous, not a part, but an ill-adjusted appendage; or by seeming to overload and weigh it down, by its unsightly bulk, like the productions of bad taste in architecture, where there is massy and cumbrous ornament, without strength or solidity of column. This has exposed learning, and especially classical learning, to reproach. Men bave seen that it might exist, without mental superiority, without vigor, without good taste, and without utility. But, in such cases, classical learning has only not inspired natural talent; or, at most, it has but made original feebleness of intellect, and natural bluptness of perception, something more conspicuous. The question, after all, if it be a question, is, whether literature, ancient as well as modern, does not assist a good understanding, improve natural good taste, add polished armor to native strength, and render its possessor, not only more capable of deriving private happiness from contemplation and reflection, but more accomplished, also, for action, in the affairs of life, and especially for public action. Those whose memories we now honor, were learned men ; but their learning was kept in its proper place, and made subservient to the uses and objects of life. They were scholars not common, nor superficial; but their scholarship was so in keeping with their character, so blended and inwrought, that careless observers, or bad judges, not seeing an ostentatious display of it, might infer that it did not exist; forgetting, or not knowing, that classical learning, in men who act in conspicuous public stations, perform duties which exercise the faculty of writing, or address popular, deliberative, or judicial bodies, is often felt, where it is little seen, and sometimes felt more effectually, because it is not seen at all.'
Among the gists which Mr. Adams had from nature, and which were cultivated by close application to studies and duties was that of a strong voice and a most powerful imagination, united to a retentive mem
ory, which are among the principal ingredients in making an orator. His eloquence was admired in his day, as full of strength, nature, fire, and classical learning. He came upon the question with all the energy of his feelings ; he turned it to every light, and probed it to the very quick. He was well grounded in rhetoric, but made no display of his art; he pounced upon his subject with strength and spirit, regardless of the graces he might, or might not, exhibit in his perform
Mr. Webster has given us the characteristics of Mr. Adams's eloquence.
• The eloquence of Mr. Adams resembled his general character, and formed, indeed, a part of it. It was bold, manly, and energetic ; and such the crisis required. When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it-they cannot reach it. It comes, if it comes at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments, and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all