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are but feeble terms to express the feelings, with which the members of this House and the People of this country have long regarded him.
After a life of eighty years, devoted from its earliest maturity to the public service, he has at length gone to his rest. He has been privileged to die at his post; to fall while in the discharge of his duties; to expire beneath the roof of the Capitol; and to have his last scene associated forever, in history, with the birthday of that illustrious Patriot, whose just discernment brought him first into the service of his country.
The close of such a life, under such circumstances, is not an event for unmingled emotions. We cannot find it in our hearts to regret, that he has died as he has died. He himself could have desired no other end." This is the end of earth,” were his last words, uttered on the day on which he fell. But we might almost hear him exclaiming, as he left us—in a language hardly less familiar to him than his native tongue — " Hoc est, nimirum, magis feliciter de vita migrare, quam mori.”
It is for others to suggest what honors shall be paid to his memory. No acts of ours are necessary to his fame. But it may be due to ourselves and to the country, that the national sense of his character and services should be fitly commemorated.
A SPEECH AT THE FESTIVAL OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HORTICULTURAL
SOCIETY IN FANEUIL HALL, BOSTON, SEPTEMBER 22, 1848.
[In reply to the following toast, proposed by the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder, Presi. dent of the Society, —“ Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts — The good stock which he planted more than two centuries ago, bears fruit in this generation which speaks for itself.")
I wish that it could speak for itself, Mr. President! Most heartily do I wish that the fruit of that old stock to which you have so kindly alluded, could speak for itself in a manner worthy of this occasion, — could find language for the sentiments with which a scene like this has filled all our hearts. It is so long, however, since I was at liberty to speak for myself, I have so long, of late, been a doomed listener to the not always very inspiring speeches of others, - that I am almost afraid that my faculty, if I ever had any, has flown. But with whatever words I can find, I desire to offer my congratulations to this Society, on the eminent success of the exhibition which is now brought to a close.
I think you will agree with me, ladies and gentlemen, that a richer display of horticultural products has rarely been witnessed by any of us. I have had a recent opportunity of seeing some of the horticultural exhibitions of other climes. It is hardly more than a twelvemonth, since it was my good fortune to be present at more than one of the famous flower-shows of London and its vicinity. I know not what hidden beauties might have revealed themselves on these occasions to a more scientific eye, - what prodigies of art might have been discovered by those who knew how to look for them, - I can only speak of the impressions produced on a superficial observer. I saw there
magnificent collections of plants, such as I never saw before, such as I have never seen since. Not a few of them were pointed out to me as original products of our own soil; but I confess that they had been so improved by cultivation, that it must have required a very practised eye, or an exceedingly patriotic pair of spectacles, to have emboldened any one to claim them as Native American productions. But as to fruits, I saw no exhibition of them anywhere, which for variety, perfection, or profusion, could be compared with what we have seen in this Hall, during the last two or three days.
Certainly, Mr. President, we have never beheld the like in these parts before. A few years ago, we all remember that a little room in Tremont street was all too wide for
annual shows. But you have gone on so rapidly, adding triumph to triumph- at one moment producing a new apple, at another a few more pears, at a third“ a little more grape" — that your own spacious Horticultural rooms have now become too small, and old Faneuil Hall itself can hardly stretch its arms wide enough, to embrace all the spoils of your victories!
And what shall I say of the festival by which your exhibition is now closed and crowned? Who does not feel it a privilege to be here? Which one of us, especially, that has been accustomed to associate meetings in this place only with subjects of political contention and party strife, can fail to appreciate the harmony and beauty of the scene before him? Never, surely, was there combined a greater variety of delightful circumstances. It would be difficult to decide for which of our senses you have provided the most luxurious repast. Fruit, flowers, music, fair faces, sparkling eyes, wit, eloquence, and poetry, have all conspired to lend their peculiar enchantment to the hour.
But it would be doing great injustice to your Association, to estimate its claims upon the consideration and gratitude of the community, by the mere success of its exhibitions or the brilliancy of its festivals. We owe them a far deeper debt for their influence in disseminating a taste for one of the purest and most refined pleasures of life, and for their exertions in diffusing the knowledge of an art so eminently calculated to elevate the moral character of society.
Horticulture, indeed, does little to supply the physical wants of man. The great crops and harvests by which the world is fed, are the products of a sterner treatment of the soil, - ever-honored Agriculture, always the first of arts. But "man does not live by bread alone.” There is food for the soul, the mind, the heart, no less essential to his true subsistence, and required not merely by the educated and refined, but by all who have souls, minds, or hearts within them. And whence can the toiling millions of our race obtain a more abundant or a more wholesome supply of this food, than from the beauties of nature as developed at their own doors, and by their own hands, by the exquisite processes of horticulture ?
It has been said that an undevout astronomer is mad. But we need not look up to the skies for incentives to devotion. We need not employ telescopes to find evidences of Beneficence. There are
" Stars of the morning, dew-drops, which the Sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower," whose lessons are legible to the unassisted eye. The flowers, them. selves, with their gorgeous hues and inimitable odors, and which seem, in the economy of nature, to have no other object but to minister to the gratification and delight of man, — who can resist their quiet teachings? What companions are they to those who will only take them into company, and cherish their society, and listen to their charming voices! Who ever parts from them without pain, that has once experienced their disinterested and delightful friendship?
I know not in the whole range of ancient or modern poetry, a strain more touching or more true to nature, than that in which the great English bard has presented Eve bidding farewell to her flowers :
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount ?"
other climate grow.
know hereafter. But such as we bave, there are daughters of Eve here present, I doubt not, with whom, to be deprived of them, would wellnigh partake of the bitterness of a Paradise lost.
But let me hasten to relieve you, ladies and gentlemen, from the too sombre, if not too sentimental, strain into which I have been betrayed. My reverend friends who have preceded me will already have regarded me as poaching on their premises. Let me add but a single other idea, as the subject of the sentiment which I shall offer in conclusion.
We are accustomed to designate certain arts as the Fine Arts, and I would be the last to disparage their claim to this distinguished title. They furnish to our halls of state and to the mansions of the wealthy, paintings and sculpture which cannot be too highly prized. But Horticulture, in its most comprehensive sense, is emphatically the Fine Art of common life. It is eminently a Republican Fine Art. It distributes its productions with equal hand to the rich and the poor. Its implements may be wielded by every arm, and its results appreciated by every eye. It decorates the dwelling of the humblest laborer with undoubted originals, by the oldest masters, and places within his daily view, fruit-pieces and flower-pieces, such as Van Huysum never painted, and landscapes such as Poussin could only copy. Let me say, then,
Horticulture — Its best Exhibitions are in the village garden and the cottage win. dow; and its best Festivals in the humble homes which it adorns, and in the humble hearts which it refines and elevates.