Skip to main content

Full text of "An address commemorative of the life and services of George D. Robinson"

See other formats

F 70 
Copy 1 

J775 — APiyL NINETEENTH — 1896 

^ ^ An Address Commemorative of the 
Life and Services of George D* Robinson, 
Govemor of the Commonwealth, J884-86, 
by Henry Cabot Lodge 

Proceedings at the Hancock Church in Lex- 
ington on the One Hundred and Twenty- 
first Anniversary of the Battle 

[Published by the Town] 


Geo. H. Ellis, Printer, 141 Franklin Street 


4 »v > 


^ ^ An Address Commemorative of the 
Life and Services of George D* Robinson^ 
Governor of the Commonwealth^ 1884-86^ 
by Henry Cabot Lodge 

Proceedingfs at the Hancock Church in Lex- 
ington on the One Hundred and Twenty- 
first Anniversary of the Battle 

[Published by the Town] 


Geo. H. Ellis, Printer, 141 Franklin Street 




Herbert G. Locke, Chainnati. 
George E. Muzzey. 
Dr. N. H. Merriam. 
George O. Smith. 
Frank C. Childs. 

Rev. J. B. Werner, Secretary. 
George O. Davis. 
Edward T. Harrington. 
George S. Jackson. 
Robert P. Clapp. 

Mary Hudson. 

Mrs. Frank C. Childs. 

Mrs. Lucy M. Whiting. 

Mrs. Edward T. Harrington. 

Mrs. John H. Willard. 

[The observance of the anniversary was marked also by various proceedings 
on Monday, April 20, the exercises recorded in these pages being held on 
Sunday, April 19.] 



1. VOLUNTARY Mr. Howard M. Dow 

2. ANTHEM. " Heavenly Father," 

Herbert Johnson's Quintette Club and Mr. J. L. Wliite. 

3. PRAYER Rev. C.vrlton A. Staples 

4. SOLO. " Rock of Ages," Mr. Herbert Johnson 

5. ADDRESS OF \VELCOME Mr. Robert P. Clapp 

Pres't of Lexington Hist'l Soc'y 

6. QUINTETTE. " Lift thine Eyes," Quintette Club 

7. ADDRESS Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge 

8. QUINTETTE. " I'm a Pilgrim," Quintette Club 

9. HYMN. "America," Congregation 



Before introducing Mr. Lodge to deliver the address in 
special commemoration of Governor Robinson, a son of Lex- 
ington, Mr. Clapp spoke as follows : — 

Felloiv-citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen, — As President of 
the Society under whose auspices the annual observance of 
this day by the town is directed, it is my pleasant duty to 
invite you to review once more the lessons in loyalty and 
unselfish devotion to country which the Nineteenth of April 
teaches, and to thank the distinguished guests here to-day for 
the honor of their presence. 

The wealth of historical treasure with which Lexington is 
endowed, though held dearest by her citizens themselves, is 
the glory and inspiration of Massachusetts as well, — yes, of 
our whole country. And so it is fitting that the acting Gov- 
ernor of the Commonwealth, and a Senator from Massachu- 
setts prominent in the counsels of the nation, should be here 
gratefully to lay a tribute of respect on the graves of the 
patriots of 1775, and to reverence a conspicuous example of 
manhood which the fruits of their services have given to the 
generation of to-day. 

To our guests I may be permitted to say that in coming to 
pay their homage at Liberty's shrine they follow in the foot- 
steps of distinguished predecessors. There are yet living in 

this community those who saw escorted to the Common, be- 
neath an arch of evergreen erected by the townspeople as a 
symbol of his memory, that devoted friend of America, the 
liberty-loving Lafayette. In 1852 Jonathan Harrington, two 
years before he died as the last survivor of the battle, standing 
at the age of ninety-three upon the historic spot, received, 
warm with the pulses of patriotic fervor, the hand of Louis 
Kossuth. Passing in front of this church, you will observe on 
the site of the old meeting-house at the end of the Common 
a shapely elm, which was planted twenty-one years ago to-day 
by General Grant. And, reverting to an earlier event which 
adds to the memories of the day, we recall April 19, fifty-one 
years ago, when the bones of the eight martyr patriots, whose 
blood first consecrated the soil, were removed with impressive 
ceremonial to their present resting-place on the Common. 
Upon that occasion the scholarly and finished Everett, silver- 
tongued and impassioned, was the orator of the day. But, sir 
[to Mr. Lodge], while we remind you that he is a predecessor 
in title to the position you occupy here to-day, we feel sure 
that you will hold to the same high standard of eloquence, 
and stir within us the same elevated strain of patriotism. He 
sang of arms and the men who bore them ; but in the charac- 
ter of the man whose career, honoring his native town and 
promoting the welfare of the State, illustrated the results of 
their work, you have a no less worthy theme of song. 

We cherish with loving pride the Nineteenth of April, not 
because of any prominence which the annual observance at- 
tracts to Lexington as a town, but because we recognize the 
importance of the occasion as a factor in the enriching of life 
and character. Stevenson, writing of the great English ad- 
mirals, says, "These stories of her sea captains, printed, so to 
speak, in capitals, and full of moral influence, are more valu- 

able to England than any material benefit in all the books of 
political economy between Westminster and Birmingham." So 
we hold that the stories of Lexington, Concord, Valley Forge, 
and Saratoga, of " Old Ironsides," of Gettysburg, and Chicka- 
mauga, are worth more to the United States than the products 
of her mines or the fruits of her inventions ; for in them are 
found the influences that make for honor and manhood. 

Parker's band of fifty undisciplined men, standing almost in 
mock defiance before a body of eight hundred tried veterans, 
and returning the fire of the king's troops, presents no pleasing 
sight, so foolhardy seems the act. But the fire returned, the 
patriots dead, and we behold an eloquent performance. Its 
memory serves a useful purpose, not only to those whose pro- 
fession it is to bear arms in the country's service, but to the 
humblest individual in civil life. All men are idealists at 
heart ; and the patient toil and suffering which the fathers 
endured, the heroic deeds which they performed, touch in us 
a vein of the poetic. We love to recall the examples of their 
lives ; for they send us back to our daily toil with good cheer, 
and even inspire a hope that in some manner we may become 
heroes also. 

While we stand ready to respond, with arms if need be, to 
the calls which the country's honor may make upon us, let us 
hope that the national character may never need to be toned 
and invigorated by the chastening influences which accom- 
pany the awful brutalities of war, but that it may be preserved 
and strengthened by the inspiring lessons with which Amer- 
ican history is illumined. 

It was your singular good fortune, fellow-citizens, two years 
ago to-day, to hear from this very platform the voices of two 
men of Massachusetts, — George D. Robinson and Frederick 
T. Greenhalge, — now passed beyond, whose useful lives and 


services are appropriately made the subject of commemorative 
addresses in connection with this Patriots' Day. They found 
in the manifold problems of civil life opportunities to establish 
high ideals of service, to exhibit the enduring virtues of inde- 
pendence and courage, and to exemplify those lines of Lowell : 

" Life may be given in many ways, 
And loyalty to truth be sealed 
As bravely in the closet as the- field. 
So bountiful is fate." 


Yesterday we had a memorial service in Boston for 
our Governor, who had died in office. To-day we meet 
to do Hke honor to one of his near predecessors. The 
quick succession of these solemn observances is a sad 
reminder of the loss which has within a few months 
befallen the Commonwealth in the sudden death of 
two of her most trusted and eminent public men. Both 
deserved well of the Republic, both had done the State 
high service, both had lived lives and shown qualities 
which were an honor to Massachusetts. 

He whose memory we would recall, and whose life and 
deeds we would praise here to-day, had withdrawn him- 
self some years ago from the public career in which he 
had played such a distinguished part. He had returned 
to the active and successful pursuit of his profession, 
where he held a deservedly high position. He was 
cut down suddenly in the fulness of his strength, both 
of body and mind; and the news of his death brought 
deep sorrow to all the people of the State. His loss 
was as keenly felt as if he had still held office; for, 
although he had retired from public life, the services 
he had rendered, his high reputation, and his strong 
character made him in any sphere or in any field of 
human activity a potent influence and a pillar of 
strength to the community in which he lived. 


There is a peculiar fitness in coming here on this 
day to honor his memory. Not only is this the town 
of his birth, but it is a famous and historic spot. 
Lexington is a name known to all Americans. When 
we tell the story of the long, brave struggle which 
made us an independent nation, we begin it here 
where the minute-men faced the soldiers of England 
for the first time in arms. With it are entwined all 
the memories of the Revolution. It was to Lexing- 
ton and Concord and Bunker Hill that Daniel 
Webster pointed first when he numbered the glories 
of Massachusetts. Here the memories dearest to 
our hearts awaken, and they are all American. 
They speak of American liberty, American courage, 
American union and independence. There is no jar- 
ring note anywhere. Hence the peculiar fitness of 
which I have spoken in our coming "here to com- 
memorate the life and services of Governor Robinson; 
for he was not only a distinguished man, but he was 
a typical one. 

He was a true son of the soil, an American, a New 
Englander. Here the Puritans settled, here they lived 
for generations, here their descendants fought the first 
fight of the Revolution ; and here, if anywhere, in this 
historic American town we can learn from the life of 
one of its children what the result has been of the 
beliefs, the strivings, the traditions, of the people who 
founded and built up New England, and in the course 
of the centuries have pushed their way across the con- 
tinent. In the career and the character of Governor 


Robinson we have an open book, where we can read 
a story which will tell us what kind of man the civili- 
zation of the English Puritans has been able to pro- 
duce in this nineteenth century, after so many years 
of growth and battle in the New World. Has the 
result been worthy of the effort and the struggle? 
Has the race advanced and Qrrown stroncrer here under 
new influences in its two hundred and fifty years of 
American existence, or has it faltered, failed, and de- 
clined ? These are questions of deep moment to us, 
children of New England and Massachusetts. Let us 
turn to the life of the man whose memory brings 
us here to-day, and find the answer there. 

One of the earliest of the Puritan settlements was 
at Cambridge; and there a town sprang up with its 
church and school-house, and in a short time with the 
little college which has grown since to the great 
university we know to-day. As the years went by, 
more and more land was taken up; and a new settle- 
ment was formed to the north of the college town, 
and known as Cambridge Farms. Thither about 1706 
came Jonathan Robinson with his young wife, Ruth. 
He was born in 1682, the son of William Robinson, 
of Cambridge, was a weaver by trade, and moved from 
his birthplace that he might get a farm and establish 
a home for his family. He became one of the leading 
men of the little settlement, was chosen a tythingman in 
1735, and in 1744 was one of the committee appointed 
to "dignify and seat ye meeting-house," an important 
social function in the early days of New England. 


He had six children. The eldest, Jonathan, born 
in 1707, married in his turn, and had a son named 
Jacob, born in 1739. His son, also named Jacob, the 
great-grandson of the Cambridge weaver, was born in 
1762. He lived to a great age, and was in his turn 
a leader in the town, being selectman in 1805 and 
1806, and for several years assessor. He had nine 
children, among them Hannah, who became the wife 
of Charles Tufts, the founder of Tufts College, and 
Charles, who was the father of George D. Robinson, 
the future governor, born Jan. 20, 1834. The mother 
of Governor Robinson was Mary Davis, of Concord, 
a lineal descendant of Dolor Davis, one of the earliest 
of the Plymouth settlers, and the ancestor of three 
Massachusetts Governors. The mother of Mrs. Robin- 
son was the daughter of Joseph Hosmer, who acted 
as adjutant in the fight at Concord Bridge. 

I have traced this pedigree in some detail, not be- 
cause it is remarkable, but because it is typical. It is 
characteristic of New England, and represents the 
rank and file — the yeomanry of Massachusetts — who 
have made the State and done so much to build the 
nation. How plainly they come before us, — these 
men and women of the unmixed Puritan stock ! They 
were a simple, hard-working folk, tilling the ground, 
weaving their linen, bringing up their children in 
the fear of God, governing themselves, filling in their 
turn the town offices ; while they never lost their hold 
on higher things, respecting and seeking education, 
deeply religious, and with an abiding love of home 


and country. One of the Robinson name was in Cap- 
tain Parker's company on the 19th of April at Lexing- 
ton, and on the mother's side we find one of the officers 
at Concord. These Puritans came here to hear a ser- 
mon after their own fashion. They were stern and 
often intolerant, but always strong, determined men. 
As the generations passed, each doing its simple duty 
in thorough manner, the Puritan severity softened and 
mellowed ; but the great qualities of the race remained 
unchanged, and never failed in war or peace. 

From such ancestry did George Robinson come, and 
such were the traditions he inherited. His father was 
a farmer, a man respected in the town, of which he 
was many times selectman. The boy was brought 
up to the hard but vigorous life of a New England 
country town. His father's farm lay some two miles 
to the north of Lexington, in what was then a some- 
what secluded spot. Here the boy soon began to 
bear his share of the responsibilities, and help in the 
support of the family. There was a great deal of hard 
work on the farm, few leisure hours, not many books 
to read, and, as the nearest neighbor was nearly half 
a mile away, not much society. But among the New 
Englanders, as among the lowland Scotch, the two 
branches of the English-speaking race which have per- 
haps contended with harder conditions than any others, 
there was an ardent love of learning and a belief in 
the power and the value of education, for which no 
sacrifice was deemed too great. 

So, while George Robinson helped his father on the 


farm, he managed to attend the district school for three 
or four months in the year. He did well at school, 
and one who knew him all his life says of him : 
"What he was as a man, he was as a boy, — truthful, 
sincere, kind, and clean, — a boy whom every one re- 
spected and esteemed, making friends wherever he 
went." The means at the command of his family were 
so slender that he put aside the idea of ever getting to 
college ; but, toward the close of his career in the more 
advanced schools, his teachers, who had a high opinion 
of his capacity, persuaded him to take the Harvard 
examinations. He passed successfully, and entered 
college in 1S52. It was a hard struggle, and required 
many sacrifices. He went back and forth every day 
from his home in Lexington to his recitations in Cam- 
bridge. He lived on a pittance, earned money by 
teaching school, and by his rigid economy and self- 
denial completed his college course, and was graduated 
with his class in 1856. He took good rank at Harvard, 
graduating high enough to win a place in the Phi Beta 
Kappa. He was popular in his class, and a member 
of several societies. One of his classmates. Judge 
Smith, says of him : " Whatever he undertook, he did 
well and so thoroughly that he did not have to go over 
it a second time. I should say that he never hurried, 
and yet was always upon time. I do not believe he 
ever lost any time or strength in worrying. He did his 
best, and then calmly awaited results." 

Thus he found himself face to face with the world 
at the age of twenty-two, with no capital except his 


education, his good brains, and his determined will. 
His plan at that time seems to have been to study 
medicine ; but, for immediate support, he took to teach- 
ing, obtaining a position as principal of the Chicopee 
High School, where he remained for nine years. Dur- 
ing this period he seems to have kept up his studies 
of medicine. Meantime, on Nov. 24, 1859, he had 
married; but in 1864 his wife died, and he soon after 
returned to his father's house, bringing with him his 
only child, a boy of four years. It was at this time 
that he changed his plans, and began the serious study 
of the law in the office of his brother. In 1S66 he 
was admitted to the bar, ten years after his graduation. 
He was thirty-two years of age, and had come very 
late to the opening of his professional career. Once 
started, however, he made rapid progress. He returned 
to Chicopee, and opened an office in Cabot Hall Block 
on Market Square, a place which he retained until 
his comparatively recent removal to Springfield. The 
thoroughness and painstaking care with which he 
prepared his cases soon brought him a lucrative prac- 
tice in a community where he was already so well 
known and so favorably regarded. Soon after he had 
established himself in his profession, on July 11, 1867, 
he again married, his second wife being the daughter 
of Joseph F. Simonds, of Lexington. 

He had always taken an interest in all public ques- 
tions ; but, as he had been late in coming to the bar, 
so he was slow in engaging in active politics. His 
public career began with his election to the lower 


branch of the legislature from Chicopee in the fall of 
1874. He was at that time forty years of age, and 
accepted the ofifice with genuine reluctance. In his 
one year of service in the House he was placed on 
the Judiciary Committee, serving side by side on that 
committee with Richard Olney, Chief Justice Mason 
of the Superior Court, the late William W. Rice, John 
Quincy Adams, and Congressman William S. Knox. 
The next year he went to the State Senate, where 
he served one term as in the lower branch. Durins: 
his two years of experience in the State legislature 
he quickly took high rank as a debater, and showed 
qualifications for public life which marked him for 
higher honors. They were not long in coming. In 
the fall of 1876 he was nominated as the Republican 
candidate for Congress in the old Eleventh District, so 
long and ably represented by Henry L. Dawes, which 
two years before had been carried by Chester W. 
Chapin, the Democratic nominee, by a plurality of 
nearly 6,000. Mr. Robinson took the stump at once, 
and after a vigorous struQ^ole overcame the laro^e ad- 
verse majority, and was elected to the Forty-fifth Con- 
gress by a plurality of 2,162. He was successively 
re-elected, without serious opposition, to the Forty- 
sixth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth Congresses. He 
brought to his new duties in Congress the trained 
habits of a student of political affairs, boldness in de- 
bate, ingenuity, resource, and a power of forcible and 
lucid statement, which soon commanded the attention 
of the House. Before the expiration of his first ses- 

sion his close attention to the duties of his position 
both in the committee room and on the floor of the 
House made the late speaker Randall, a good judge 
of men, predict a distinguished future for the new 
member from Massachusetts. During his Congres- 
sional service he was given various important com- 
mittee assignments, including places on the Judiciary 
Committee and on the Committee upon the Improve- 
ment of the Mississippi River. Mr. Robinson was 
regular in attendance upon the sessions of the House, 
and devoted his whole strength to the public business. 
During the second session of the Forty-fifth Congress 
he began to participate actively in the Congressional 
debates. As a debater, he was distinguished by in- 
cisiveness of speech and precision of statement, — qual- 
ities which made him a formidable antagonist. His 
familiarity with the rules also made him an authority 
in questions of parliamentary procedure, and he was 
frequently called to preside over a Democratic House. 
In the fall of 1882 Mr. Robinson was elected for a 
fourth term, this time as the representative from the 
then new Twelfth District. His place in Congress was 
now an influential one ; and he had come to be recog- 
nized as one of the leaders of the New England dele- 
gation and one of the stronQ- men of the House. Back 
of him was a united and admiring constituency. His 
Congressional career seemed likely to be a long and 
eminent one ; but it was suddenly terminated by the 
unanimous demand of his party to lead them in the 
fiercest campaign they had ever been called upon to 
make for victorv in the State of Massachusetts. 


In 1S82 General Butler, supported by the whole 
Democratic party, and by a considerable number of 
Republicans, who constituted his personal following, 
had carried the State, and been elected Governor. His 
administration, by the course he chose to follow, had 
aroused deep resentments, and to the intense desire 
of the Republicans to regain the State as a party was 
added a great deal of personal bitterness. 

The Republican organization therefore began its 
work early, for there was much to do. But the all- 
important point to be decided was who should be the 
candidate to lead the fight against General Butler. It 
was neither an easy nor an inviting task, and the pros- 
pect of victory was anything but certain. 

It was my fortune to be at that time chairman of the 
Republican State Committee, and in charge of the cam- 
paign. I had no personal acquaintance with Governor 
Robinson, and knew him only by reputation as a distin- 
guished and leading member of Congress. It seemed 
to me, however, at the very start, on looking over the 
whole field, that he would be our strongest candidate 
against General Butler ; but I felt that, in view of the 
serious contest before us, the candidate should be se- 
lected by the well-considered opinion of the party, and 
that it was not the time for any interference in regard 
to the nomination by the State Committee. I was, 
therefore, very careful to say nothing whatever as to 
my own views as to candidates. As time went on, 
several distinguished Republicans were suggested for 
the nomination ; but in each case a refusal to run fol- 


lowed. Finally, party opinion settled down on Mr. 
Henry L. Pierce; and, as the date fixed for the con- 
vention approached, it was clear that he would be 
nominated with practical unanimity. That this would 
be the result of the convention was generally under- 
stood, and was accepted on all sides. 

On the day before the convention Mr. Pierce sent for 
me, and told me that he could not be a candidate. His 
sudden withdrawal at the last moment was a very seri- 
ous matter, when the all-important question of the 
nomination was thought to have been conclusively 
settled. It threatened to throw everything into con- 
fusion, and start us most unfortunately in the severe 
struggle which we knew was at hand. I remember 
very well the consternation of every one when I went 
back to the rooms of the State Committee, and stated 
officially that Mr. Pierce had finally withdrawn. I felt 
anxious myself, but not so much disturbed as the 
others ; for I knew Governor Robinson was coming to 
town, and I meant to appeal to him to step into the 
gap and take the nomination. I met him that day 
at the office of his brother, Charles Robinson, in the 
Rogers Building. Our interview is one of the incidents 
of my life which I most vividly remember. After we 
had shaken hands, I said to him, " Mr. Robinson, Mr. 
Pierce has withdrawn, and you must take the nomina- 
tion." He looked at me with his head up in the confi- 
dent manner so characteristic of him, and with which 
I became afterward so familiar, and said, " Mr. Lodge, 
I have not sought the governorship; but, if the party 


wants me and needs me, I will stand." I shall never 
fors:et the relief which I felt, and the confidence with 
which his answer, coming as it did in the midst of 
refusals and hesitations, inspired me. 

He was nominated the next day, practically without 
opposition ; and his short speech of acceptance gave to 
the convention the same feeling of confidence which 
he had already given to me. When he looked the 
delegates, as he did every one, squarely in the face, 
and said, "It is your duty to command: I count it 
mine to obey," a sense of relief filled the convention. 
After the days of doubt, hesitation, and alarm the 
strong man, the man able and willing to lead, had 
come ; and every one recognized it. As we walked 
away together after the convention, he said to me : 
" We have a hard fight before us, and you and I are 
to be thrown together very closely. I want you to be 
perfectly frank with me about everything, and to call 
upon me unhesitatingly for all I can do. I am a poor 
man, and have no money to put into the campaign ; 
but my time and strength are at the service of the 
party." Every one knows how he kept his word ; but 
no one can appreciate it, I think, quite so fully as I 
do. The relations between the chairman of a State 
committee and his candidate are not always very easy. 
The chairman, working for party victory, is obliged to 
press the candidate pretty hard, and sometimes almost 
unreasonably; but in that campaign the candidate met 
every demand upon him, not only willingly, but gladly. 

Governor Robinson shrank from no effort and no 


fatigue. He made during the campaign, as I remem- 
ber, some seventy-three speeches. I think he made 
nine on the last day; and he never failed in the force, 
variety, and freshness of what he said. With the ex- 
ception of the Lincoln and Douglas debate, I do not 
believe that Governor Robinson's campaign against 
General Butler has ever been surpassed in a debate 
before the people. It was a close, hard fight; and 
I have never questioned that it was his commanding 
leadership which turned the scale. He never lost his 
temper, his good sense never failed. He followed his 
antagonist relentlessly, and without a syllable of per- 
sonal abuse struck blow after blow, and never left an 
argument unanswered or a position unassailed. The 
confidence and enthusiasm which he inspired grew 
and strengthened with each day and with every speech ; 
and, when it was all over and the polls had closed, 
he received the news of his victory with the same 
calm cheerfulness with which he had faced the heady 
currents of the fight. 

After his brilliant and successful campaign for the 
governorship, he went to Washington in December, 
1883, to participate in the organization of the Forty- 
eighth Congress, to which he had been elected the year 
before. On the 2d of January following he forwarded 
his resignation of his seat in Congress to Governor 
Butler. The Governor's reply was characteristic : 
"Your resignation of your office of representative in 
the Forty-eighth Congress of the United States from 
the Twelfth District of Massachusetts, tendered to the 


Governor of the Commonwealth this morning, is hereby 
accepted, the reason prompting the same being so en- 
tirely satisfactory to a majority of the people of the 

Thus he passed from the parliamentary field, for 
which he was so peculiarly fitted, and where he had won 
so much success, to the high executive office of Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts. He was twice re-elected with- 
out really serious opposition, and was never in danger 
of defeat. To the important business of administration 
he brought the same diligence, ability, thoroughness, 
and conscientious work which had marked his whole 
career. He was an extremely successful governor. He 
had entire courage, and never hesitated to stop a meas- 
ure with his veto if he thought it wrong, no matter how 
strong the popular feeling in its favor appeared to be. 
He devoted to the endless details of executive business 
the same attention, thought, and ability which he used 
to give to an exciting debate in the national House, 
when he was speaking and voting with the eyes of the 
country upon him. He came up to the high standard 
which the State demands of her governors, and at the 
close of his last term he commanded the approval of all 
the people to a degree which is rarely witnessed. The 
State was proud of him, the people admired him ; but 
the feeling which he inspired above all others was com- 
plete confidence in his ability, courage, and strength. 

When he left the governorship, he returned to private 
life and to the practice of his profession. He liked the 
work of public life, as every strong man likes to do that 


which he knows he does well ; but Governor Robinson 
felt that his duty to his family required him to abandon 
politics, although he might have had anything the State 
could give, and address himself to labors which would 
make provision for the future and for those dearest to 
him. There were no repinings and no rejoicings. He 
went out of public life, leaving behind him all its attrac- 
tion and all its drawbacks, with the same philosophic 
cheerfulness with which he had accepted his first nomi- 
nation for o-Qvernor and heard the news of his o-reat 
victory flashed over the wires to Chicopee. Once out 
of politics, he cast no backward looks, but gave his 
whole strength to his profession, although he would 
always come forward in the campaigns and help his 
party with a speech, when the fight was hottest and 
his aid most needed. 

Of his success at the bar after his return to it there 
is no need to speak. It is still fresh in every one's 
mind. Thus busily engaged, nine years went by ; and 
then he was suddenly stricken down. He was so 
strong, so temperate, so vigorous in all ways, that the 
idea of illness seemed utterly remote from him. We 
all, I think, regarded him as the man, above all others, 
who was destined to a long life and to a strong old age, 
surpassing even that of his long-lived ancestry. Death 
is the commonest of events ; but it is always a surprise, 
and in his case the shock was especially sudden and 
severe. The blow was instant and decisive, like the 
strong man who fell beneath it ; but it was none the 
less hard to bear for the people of this Commonwealth, 


who had looked up to him, followed him, honored him. 
Still in his prime, in the vigor of his manhood, he had 
been reft from us; and the people of Massachusetts 
mourned beside his orrave. 

So the story of the life and the career ends with 
the sad ending of all our little human histories. It 
seems to me a very fine story, even when told as im- 
perfectly and incompletely as I have told it to you. 
It is not only a life which it will be a pride to his 
children to recall, but it is full of meaning and en- 
couragement to us all. The character and qualities 
of the man himself seem to me to shine out very 
brightly through the brief abstract and chronicle of 
what he did in this busy world. They are worth con- 
sidering by all men who love Massachusetts, and who 
are inspired with eager, earnest hopes for the destiny 
of their country and their race. 

Note, first, that he was a strong man physically, big, 
deep-chested, able to withstand toil and stress. This 
is a point which is too often overlooked ; and yet it is 
of grave importance, for the puny races of men go to 
the wall. Governor Robinson was a fine proof of the 
fact that the hardy Englishmen who settled here had 
not degenerated, but rather had waxed stronger in 
bone and muscle and sinews in their two hundred 
and fifty years of American life. Mind and character 
matched the physical attributes. Strength of will and 
vigor of mind were his two most characteristic qual- 
ities. He was exceedingly temperate in all ways, a 
man of pure, clean, wholesome life. The desires of 


the senses were under as much control as his temper. 
He was always cool, and his judgment was never 
clouded by excitement. The stern spirit of self-sacri- 
fice to a great purpose, which brought the Puritans to 
the wilderness, survived in him, mellowed no doubt, but 
just as effective as of old in the conditions of life 
which he was called to meet. He had deep convic- 
tions on all questions ; but he was always just, tolerant, 
and fair. He was a hard worker, one who never 
shirked and never complained. Rarely have I met 
a man of such even cheerfulness under all circum- 
stances. The words which Washinorton used about 


the Constitution often came to my mind when I 
watched Governor Robinson's method of dealing with 
public affairs : " We have set up a standard to which 
the good and wise may repair: the event is in the 
hands of God." He did his best always, and never 
worried before nor repined after the event, if things 
went ill, nor rejoiced unduly, if they went well. 

He made his greatest reputation as a debater in 
Congress and before the people. He was not a rheto- 
rician, and never tried to be. When Antony says, 

*' I am no orator, as Brutus is ; 
But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man, 
That love my friend. 
I only speak right on," 

we recognize the artistic self-depreciation of the most 
consummate orator who ever lived, if he spoke as 
Shakspere makes him speak. But what Antony said 


for effect mic^ht be said with truth of Governor 
Robinson. He was the phiin, bkmt man who spoke 
right on ; and he was a master of this most difficult and 
telling kind of oratory. He was no phrase-maker, no 
rounder of periods, no seeker for metaphors ; but he 
was one of the most effective and convincing speakers, 
whether to Congress, to a great popular audience, or to 
a jury, that I ever listened to. The very way in which 
he faced an audience, with his head up, and that bold, 
confident, but never arrogant manner, calmed the most 
hostile and roused the most indifferent. He used 
simple language and clear sentences. He had a re- 
markable power of nervous, lucid statement, — a very 
great gift. His arguments were keen and well knit, 
and illumined by a strong sense of humor and a dry wit 
which was very delightful. He had, above all, the rare 
and most precious faculty of making his hearers feel 
that he was putting into words just what they had 
always thought, but had never been able to express 
quite so well. To do this is very difficult. It does 
not come merely by nature. The most famous poet 
of Queen Anne's day thought it a very great art ; for 
he tells us that, 

" True wit is nature to advantage dressed, 
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed." 

Governor Robinson was, in one word, a great debater, 
— one of the greatest and best of his generation; and, 
when I say this, it implies that he was a man of unusual 
powers of thought, incisive, quick, and of great mental 


But his remarkable ability as a speaker, his shrewd- 
ness and justice and diligence in all the affairs of life, 
his calm temper and his cheerful philosophy, while they 
were all potent factors in his success and his popularity, 
were not his only nor his highest qualities. It is a very 
happy thing to be popular and successful ; but it is 
a much nobler thing to command the affectionate and 
deep confidence, not only of friends, but of a great 
community. This Governor Robinson did in a high 
degree, and the secret lay in his character. People 
trusted him, not because he was a brilliant and convinc- 
ing speaker, of whom they were proud, or even because 
he was a faithful and admirable chief magistrate, but 
because they knew him to be an entirely honest and 
fearless man. They saw that he was simple in his life, 
thoroughly democratic, educated, and trained, with a 
mind open to new ideas, and yet with the ingrained 
conservatism and the reverence for law and order which 
New England has always cherished; and, therefore, they 
believed in him. Instinctively, the people turned to 
him as the strong man fit for leadership and command, 
who would never waver in the face of danger and never 
betray a trust. 

Is not our question as to the result of the Puritan 
civilization answered by such a life and such a char- 
acter ? The old qualities are all there, the old fighting 
qualities, and ever with them the mastering sense of 
duty to God, to country, and to family. They have not 
weakened in the centuries that have come and gone. 
They have broadened, but they have not pined or faded. 


They have not been refined and cultivated to nothing- 
ness; and, when you strike down and call upon the 
yeomanry of Massachusetts, you find a man like this to 
stand forward, when the State needs him. They tell us 
sometimes that our people are too much like the 
granite of our hills. So be it. Strength and endur- 
ance, offering an unchanging face to storm and sun- 
shine alike, are the qualities of granite and the foun- 
dations also on which a race can build a great present 
and a mighty future. But let it not be forgotten that, 
if the outside of the granite cliff is somewhat stern 
and gray, when you pierce its heart, you find running 
across it the rich warm veins of color gathered there 
through dim ages in which contending forces moulded 
the earth forms we now see about us. Again, I say 
we have done well to meet together in memory of 
such a man. He has earned our praise and our grat- 
itude, not only for what he did and for the high titles 
he wore so well, but for what he was. In his life he 
was respected, honored, loved, and trusted. At his 
death the State, over which he had once been set, 
bowed her head in grief. But across the darkness of 
the sorrow comes the light which such a life sheds; 
for we may take to our hearts the lesson it brings, — 
that all is well with state and country while they breed 
such men as this. 

The audience having joined in singing "America," the Rev. 
Charles F. Carter brought the proceedings to a close by pro- 
nouncing the benediction. 


014 069 055 7