« PreviousContinue »
be present steadily in the house of God, could usually walk to a distance from his dwelling, and was rarely disabled from seeing and mingling with his friends. Of friends, his immediate vicinity was full, and among the rest two gentlemen of great worth, whom he had known from their college life at the beginning of the century and onward, established themselves in his neighborhood, and were on terms of close friendship with him. There was nothing in his circumstances to annoy him or to excite apprehension for the future. His days passed happily away in private reading and composition, in intercourse with his family and with other friends, and in correspondence with friends abroad. He had none of the moroseness which is charged on old age; but the spirit of kindness, only more tender than ever, the spirit of piety, only more hopeful and childlike, shed a lustre on the evening of his happy and honorable life.
It is pleasant and profitable here to put on record the feelings which he had in regard to the events through which the country has passed for the last ten years. For a time, although opposed to slavery, he acquiesced in that policy which sought to conciliate the South, and to keep the peace by half-way measures. But when atrocious wrongs began to be committed in Kansas, his sense of justice was violated, his indignation was aroused, and with many others among us, he felt that a crisis was coming on in which a man must be either against the slave power or against the country. For his sympathy with suffering Kansas, strongly and publicly expressed, he received numerous letters of remonstrance or of vituperation from former acquaintances in the southern country. But his convictions were strong; nothing moved him, and events only confirmed his judgments. Since the breaking out of the rebellion he has been most earnest in his support of the government; and most desirous to have the plague of slavery removed from all our borders. He has been most hopeful, also. It is remarkable, that while our younger men have been anxious and sometimes despondent, our old men of wisdom and religious principle have been full of confidence, as if their spiritual eye looked further into the
divine counsels, and attained "to something of prophetic strain," and their heart drank in courage from the manifest protection of the Almighty pervading our past history.
Such was he, when, a few days ago, on the evening of the 13th of the present month, he attended a service on behalf of the Sanitary Commission. The house was crowded and the night air chill, and he thought he had taken a little cold; in the evening of the next day he was seized with sharp pains in the chest, which were afterwards transferred to the space between his shoulders and to the back part of his head. This was followed by fever and other symptoms of some disturbance. He was ill all the week, but seemed to be regaining his usual health. On the 20th, which was Sunday, he was not well enough to be present at public worship. On this day he wrote in his journal as follows:
"Nov. 20th. I am not able to attend public worship at present, but am thankful that I can employ my time usefully at home.
"I am warned by this occurrence, that my health, although usually so good, may be in an instant subverted, and that the call for departure may be sudden, as has happened to Mr. Elton of Waterbury, and others during the week. I leave time and manner with my Creator, relying entirely upon Christ Jesus, my ever blessed Saviour, to rescue me from the power and condemnation of sin."
Again, on the 21st, Monday last, he writes:
"I have been able to resume my pen and am gradually recovering my usual state of feeling, but the shock has been severe, and to an old man serious. As the cause is apparent, I must avoid, in future, exposure to a cold night air, which brought on the attack;-the next may fasten on the lungs or the heart, and may prove fatal."
These were, I believe, the last entries in his journal. Through Tuesday and Wednesday he was able to enjoy the society of his friends, and he intended on Thursday to be at the thanksgiving gathering of his family circle, which was to be at Professor Dana's. On the morning of this day—and here I use chiefly the words of another-he awoke at an early
hour, having had a good night's rest. After remarking upon return of Thanksgiving day, and the many reasons for gratitude to God, he gave utterance, as his custom was, to a prayer, in which he rendered thanks for his returning health and strength, and prayed for his children and grandchildren, and especially for his son absent in California. He then requested Mrs. Silliman to repeat the Lord's Prayer. He also spoke of the causes for national gratitude, rejoicing that the nation had been permitted to unite in elevating again to the presidency a man who had proved himself so true, so honest, and so upright in conducting the affairs of the government as Mr. Lincoln.
He then repeated five verses of the fifth Psalm, according to Watt's version, beginning—
"Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear
My voice ascending high,"
and also asked to have another hymn said. "Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove," was then repeated.
Calling attention now to the improved clearness and strength of his voice, he said that he should be able to have more extended family worship than he had been able to have for a few days past, and proposed that one of David's psalms of thanksgiving should be read, when the family should be assembled.
He then enquired if it would be prudent for him to attend church that day, expressing a desire to go, if it were advisable. In a protracted conversation he spoke most affectionately of his wife and children, and just after he had uttered words of endearment to Mrs. Silliman, she noticed a sudden change of countenance: a slightly heavy breath followed, and he was
What a happy death, a thousand voices have said, since the news of his death went abroad, and I can only repeat the utterance, what a happy death, to die without pain, in a moment, with no warning, when a long life had been making preparation for death. What a happy death, to die with expressions of affection to the members of his family on his lips,-happy for him that the last moments of life were filled
with love, happy for them that he left them such a precious testament. What a happy death, to die almost in the act of giving thanks, to have the praises of Thanksgiving day suddenly broken off only that they might be renewed with one more cause of thankfulness in the Father's mansion on high. "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." But such a death is almost a clothing of what is mortal with immortal life.
ARTICLE VI.-UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE.
Ir may be remembered by the readers of the New Englander, that in the year 1860, when the administration of Mr. Buchanan was becoming daily more contemptible, and just as the country was marshaling its forces for that political campaign, which resulted in the election of Mr. Lincoln, a letter of Thomas Babington Macaulay appeared in our papers, in which he declared himself strongly against popular government, and foretold the ultimate overthrow of our institutions, by reason of our principle of general suffrage. The letter was read by multitudes in this country with surprise and sadness-with surprise, because Mr. Macaulay had shown himself such a bold and stalwart defender of the Puritans, that it would seem natural for him to adopt the institutions, which had grown out of their principles-with sadness, not only because we had lost the good opinion of a man whom we had respected and loved, but also, because the weak and imbecile government of Mr. Buchanan had brought the nation to such a pass, that these words seemed to have an air of truth and soberness, such as they hardly could have had, at any other point in our whole national history. We seemed, through the utter lack of energy in our executive head, to be drifting helplessly upon the rocks. If any one will recall the impressions with which he read the letter, when it first met his eye, we doubt not he will recollect, that it carried with it a certain weight which it would not have had in almost any other circumstances. Though the letter is somewhat long to be quoted in full, yet as we desire to make it the basis of some reflections, and as the reader may like to see it again, and to have it within easy reach for refer ence, we propose to give it entire. The letter is addressed to Hon. Henry S. Randall, of New York, author of the "Life of Jefferson." The letter was not published until after Mr. Macaulay's death, which occurred in 1859.