Page images

appearance which gives to age almost the sweetness of youth. With less warmth of manner and sociableness than Mr. Adams, she was sufficiently gracious, and her occasional remarks betrayed intellectual vigor and strong sense. The guest went away, feeling that he should never again behold such living specimens of thegreat old.'"

While his drooping frame and feeble step and dimmed eye showed the ravages of years, his mind retained its wonted vigor. He read until his vision failed, and was then read to, many hours every day. He laved, in conversation with his friends, to recall the scenes of his younger years, and to fight his battles over again. His son, John Quincy, rose to distinction, and occupied high posts of honor at home and abroad. In 1825, his parental pride was gratified, and his parental heart gladdened, in the elevation of his son to the chair which the father had honored as President of the United States. When John Quincy Adams received a note from Rufus King, informing him of his election, he enclosed. it to his father, with the following lines from his own pen, under date of Feb. 29, 1825:

My dear and honored Father, -The enclosed note from Mr. King will inform you of the event of this day; upon which I can only offer you my congratulations, and ask your blessing and prayers. Your affectionate and dutiful son,


His enfeebled pow

The 4th of July,

John Adams was now ninety years of age. ers indicated that his end was drawing nigh. 1826, came. The nation had made arrangements for a more than usually brilliant celebration of that anniversary. Adams and Jef ferson still lived. It was hoped that they might be brought together, at some favored spot, as the nation's guests. It would indeed have been a touching spectacle to have seen these venerable men, after a separation of twenty-five years, again clasp each other's hands, and exchange congratulations in view of the prosperity and power of the nation which they had done so much to form.

But, as the time drew near, it was evident that neither of them could bear a journey. On Friday morning, the 30th of June, a gentleman called upon Mr. Adams to obtain a toast to be pre

[ocr errors]

sented on the 4th of July at the celebration in Quincy. "I give you," said he, " Independence forever."

He was now rapidly declining. On the morning of the 4th, his physician judged that he would scarcely survive the day. There was the ringing of bells, the exultant music of martial bands, the thunders of artillery from ships and forts, from hills and valleys, echoing all over our land, as rejoicing millions welcomed the natal day of the nation. Mr. Adams, upon his dying couch, listened to these sounds of joy with silent emotion. "Do you know what day it is?" some one inquired. "Oh, yes!" he replied: "it is the glorious 4th of July. God bless it! God bless you all! It is a great and glorious day."-"Thomas Jefferson," he murmured at a later hour to himself, "still survives." These were his last words. But he was mistaken. An hour or two before, the spirit of Jefferson had taken its flight. The sands of his own long and memorable life were now run out, and gently he passed away into that sleep from which there is no earthly waking.

Mr. Adams was a man of rather cold courtesy of manners, of powerful intellect, of incorruptible integrity. It was one defect in his character, that he was deficient in those genial, sympathetic, brotherly graces which bind heart to heart. Wherever he ap peared, he commanded respect: seldom did he win love. His neighbors called him the "Duke of Braintree." But, through all time, he must occupy a conspicuous position in the history of this country. It is not easy to find any other name to which America is more indebted for those institutions which constitute its power and its glory than that of John Adams.





property and of considerable

« PreviousContinue »