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Full text of "Discourse of the life and character of George Peabody : delivered in the Hall of the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, February 18, 1870..."

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DISCOURSE 



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LIFE AND CHARACTER 



GEORGE PEABODY. 




By SEVERN TEACKLE WALLIS. 




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UCSB LIBRARY 
DISCOURSE 

ox T H K 

.LIFE AND CHARACTER 

OF 

GEORGE PEABODY, 



BELIVEKED IX 



THE HALL OF THE PEABODY INSTITUTE, 

Baltimore, February 18, 1870, 
And Repeated, February 25th, before the 

Senate and Hous^ ofDelegates of Maryland, 

Ox THKIR IXVITATIOX. 

By SEVERN TEACKLE WALLIS. 



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ANNAPOLIS: 

Wm. Thompson, of R., State Printer. 

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On the 15th of February, 1870, among the proceedings 
of the House of Delegates of Maryland, was the following: 

Mr. Hammond submitted the following message: 

By the House of Delegates, 
February 16, 1870. 
Gentlemen of the Senate: 

"We propose, with the concurrence of your Honorable Body, the 
appointment of a Committee, consisting of three on the part of this 
House, and two on the part of the Senate, to invite the Hon. S. Teackle 
Wallis to repeat his Eulogy on the Life and Character of George Pea- 
body, in the Hall of the House of Delegates, before the Governor, Court 
of Appeals, and General Assembly of Maryland, at such time as he 
shall be pleased to designate. We have appointed, on the part of the 
House, Messrs. Hammond, Kilbourn and Streett. 

By order, Milton Y. Kidd, 

Chief Clerk. 

Which was read, assented to, and gent to the Senate. 



In the Senate, on the same day, Mr. Earle submitted 
the following message, which Avas read, assented to, and 
sent to the House of Delegates: 

By the Senate, 
February 16, 1870. 
Gentlemen of the House of Delegates: 

AVe have received your message proposing the appointment of a Com- 
mittee, consisting of three on the part of the House, and two on the part 
of the Senate, to invite the Hon. S. Teackle Wallis to repeat his Eulogy 



IV 



on the Life and Character of George Peabody, in the Hall of the House 
of Delegates, before the Governor, Court of Appeals, and General Assem- 
bly of Maryland, at such time as he shall be pleased to designate, and 
heartily concur therein. We have appointed, on the part of the Senate, 
Messt's. Earle and Hyland. 

By order, AuGtrsTtrS Gassawat, 

Secretary. 



In response to this invitation, communicated to Mr. 
Wallis by the Joint •Committee, the following discourse, 
originally delivered in the City of Baltimore on the 18th 
of February, 1870, was repeated by him on February 
25th, in the Hall of the House of Delegates, at Annapolis, 
before the Senate and House in joint Session, in the pres- 
ence of His Excellency the Governor of the State, the 
Honorable Judges of the Court of Appeals, the Officers of 
Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Monarch, (then lying in 
Annapolis Roads,) and a number of ladies and gentlemen 
specially invited. 

On the 26th of Februaiy, Mr. Touchstone submitted, in 
the House of Delegates, the following resolutions which 
were unanimously adopted, and which received, in due 
course, the unanimous concurrence of the Senate, viz : 

JOINT RESOLUTIONS. 

Whereas, the discourse upon the Life and Character of the late George 
Peabody, which was yesterday pronounced by S. Teackle Wallis, Esq., in 
the presence of the Senate and House of Delegates of Maryland, is, by its 
just discrimination, its instructive and philosophical analysis of character, 
and its lofty eloquence, entitled to rank amongst the most distinguished 
orations of modern times, and ought, therefore, to be perpetuated and 



handed down to posterity, with the other tributes paid by Maryland to 
the memory of its immortal subject. Therefore, 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Delegates of Mai'yland, That the 
thanks of the two Houses are hereby offered to Mr. Wallis, for his prompt 
acceptance of their invitation, and that he be requested to furnish a copy 
of his discourse for publication. 

Resolved, That 2,000 copies of the said discourse be printed for the use 
of the General Assembly. 



The following correspondence thereupon ensued : 

General Assembly of Maryland, 
Senate, 
Annapolis, March Sd, 1870. 

Dear Sir: We beg to enclose the joint resolutions of the General Assem- 
bly of Maryland, asking a copy of your classic and eloquent Eulogy on the 
Life and Character of George Peabody, for publication. Having been 
appointed a Committee to execute the wishes of the Legislature, we express 
the hope that it may be agreeble to your views to comply with this request. 

"We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your ob't sts., 

Okmond Hammond, James T. Earle, 

E. G. KiLBOLRN, C. H. Hyland, 
J. M. Streett, Of the Senate. 

Of the House. 

Hon. S. Teackle Wallis. 



Baltimore, March 4th, 1870. 

GentleTuen: I have before me your flattering communication of yes- 
terday's date, enclosing me a copy of the resolutions which the General 
Assembly of Marj-land has been pleased to adopt, in reference to my recent 
discourse upon the Life and Character of the late Mr. Peabody. 

The terms in which the General Assembly has seen fit to characterize 
the discourse so far transcend my own estimate of its possible merits, 
that I should have much hesitation, under other circumstances, in submit- 



VI 

ting it to the deliberate criticism of the public. But the manuscript is 
already in the hands of the Committee of the Peabody Institute, for pub- 
lication, and I shall therefore take great pleasure in transmitting you the 
corrected proofs as soon as they are ready. 

Let me beg you to express to the General Assembly, in the warmest 
way, my very grateful sense, not only of the high honor done me by it» 
official proceedings, but of the great personal consideration, courtesy and 
kindness, which have left me under so many obligations to the Officers, 
Committees and Members of both Houses. 

I have the honor to be, with great regard, truly yours, 

S. T. Wallis. 

Hon. James T. Earle, Hok. Ormokd Hammokd, 

" C. H. HyLAND, " E. G. KiLBOUKN, 

Committee of the Senate. " J. M. Streett, 

Com,mitiee of the House of Delegates. 



Gentlemen of the Senate^ 

and of the House of Delegates of Maryland: 

The discourse which you have done me the 
distinguished honor to request me to repeat this 
evening, was prepared, as you all know, to be 
delivered at the Peabody Institute, in Baltimore, 
on the anniversary of the birth- day of its Founder. 
It is therefore full of allusions to the place and 
the occasion, which are far from being so appro- 
priate here. I could not, however, detach them 
from the text, without to some extent impairing 
the connection, nor indeed without partially re- 
writing what you have invited me only to repeat. 
I beg you will be so good as to make the neces- 
sary allowances and, as far as may be, to imagine 
^ that the original associations are around you. 



DISCOURSE. 



ON the 12th of February, thirteen years ago, 
the Founder of this Institute committed to 
the hands of his selected agents the noble 
gift, which, under his accumulating bounty, has 
since swollen to more than four times its original 
amount. Upon the same day, year after year, 
the Trustees whom he so honored have been wont 
to render him an account of their stewardship, 
and renew to him the expression of their reverent 
affection and gratitude. Some months after our 
last annual address to him, we shared, with our 
fellow-citizens, the pleasure of seeing him again 
among us in person, full, not only of increasing 
sympathy with the jDurposes of this Foundation, 
but of abounding munificence to serve them. 
Although the hand of disease was then heavy 
upon him, there was, we thought, reason for the 
hope that he might be spared for many years, 
to see the growth of the good seed which he had 
2 



10 

planted in so many places. We especially looked 
forward to the return of our anniversary, that we 
might testify, by some public and appropriate 
recognition, our sense of his untiring bounty and 
his cordial personal confidence and kindness. — 
But — blessed as his work on earth was, it had 
been accomplished, and a higher reward was near 
him than even an old age, beloved of God and 
man. We shall never look upon his kindly face 
again, nor shall his lips speak charity and wisdom, 
any more, to us. The thousands of little children 
who were gathered round him, as about a father's 
knees, when he graced the dedication of this build- 
ing with his presence, will tell to their own chil- 
dren how the eyes of the good man filled and his 
kind voice faltered, as he uttered the last touching 
and tender words of counsel, which were among 
his worthiest gifts to them. But his venerable 
form they must remember, now, among the plea- 
sant visions of childhood, which fleeted away too 
soon. He is of the past, to them as to us, and 
though public sorrow and private afifection may 
mourn over his departure, there is surely no one 
to repine at the thought, that he has passed over 
the great gulf, fixed, of old time, between the 
rich man and Abraham's bosom. 



11 

I am here, upon the invitation of ray associates 
in the Trust which Mr. Peabody created in Bal- 
timore, to say something of his life and character. 
We had selected, as an appropriate occasion, the 
anniversary to which I have alluded. The change 
which brings us together to-day, instead, not only 
gives us the pleasure of welcoming friends and 
co-laborers from a distance, who could not other- 
wise have joined us in these offices, but enables 
us, "with double pomp of sadness," on the birth- 
day of our Founder, to • lay our tribute on his 
tomb. I regret, unaffectedly, that the duty which 
has been assigned to me was not committed, as 
I wished, to other hands, for there are those 
among my brethren, far better fitted to perform 
it, whose age and long and intimate acquaintance 
with Mr. Peabody would have given to eulogy 
the weight and the force of personal knowledge 
and testimony. Except, however, as an expres- 
sion of our own and the public feeling and the 
doing of a duty as well as a labor of love, it 
would seem almost idle for the best of us to say 
a word, at this moment. The press of the civi- 
lized world has already exhausted on the subject 
all the acuteness of analysis and all the fulness 
of appreciation and sympathy. Eloquence has 



12 

poured out upon it the whole wealth of pathos 
and illustration. Even governments have found 
heart in it for tenderness and reverence, and 

"Nations swell the funeral cry." 

In the annals of our race, there is no record 
of funeral honors, to an uncrowned man, such 
as have been rendered to George Peabody. The 
story which comes nearest to what we have beheld, 
is told by the grandest historian of Rome and 
is lighted by the finest touches of his genius. 
It follows the widow of Germanicus, across the 
wintry seas, as she bore, from Antioch to Rome, 
the ashes of her hero. We can almost see the 
people crowding to the walls and house-tops, and 
thronging the sea-coast, as with slow oars the 
silent galleys came. The voice of lamentation 
seems to echo round us, as it rose from all the 
multitude, when Agrippina landed with her pre- 
cious burden, and her sobbing children followed. 
The urn is borne to the Imperial City on the 
shoulders of centurions and tribunes. Crowds 
hasten from afar and weep, in mourning gar- 
ments, by the road-sides. Funereal altars smoke 
with victims as the sad array goes by, and spices 
and perfumes and costly raiment are flung into 



13 

the flames as oiferings. The City streets — now 
still as death, now loud with bursting sorrow — 
are thronged with Rome's whole people, and 
when, at last, the ashes are at rest in the Au- 
gustan Mausoleum, a wail goes up, such as before 
had never swept along those marble ways. The 
tale which Tacitus has told us of these splendid 
obsequies, comes to us, with redoubled grandeur, 
through "the corridors of time," and yet its inci- 
dents are almost tame to what ourselves have wit- 
nessed. The stately ship which bore, across the 
waves, the corpse of him we honor, is a marvel 
that Rome never dreamed of — the proudest con- 
voy that ever guarded human ashes. The ocean 
which she traversed is an empire, over which the 
eagles of Germanicus knew no dominion. The 
mighty engines and instruments of war, which 
welcomed her, were far beyond the prophecy of 
oracle or thought of Sybil. Beside the unseen 
power which dragged the funeral -car and cleft the 
waters, with its burden, in mastery of the winds, 
the might of legions is simple insignificance, and 
it seems like trifling to tell of galleys, centurions 
and tribunes. IS'or is there, in the mourning of 
the populace of Rome over one of its broken 
idols, a type even of the noble sorrow which has 



14 

united men of all nations and opinions in their 
tribute to our lamented dead. And who shall 
speak of Heathen temple or Imperial tomb, in 
the same breath with the great Abbey Minster, 
where he slept awhile, amid the monuments and 
memories of statesmen and warriors, philosophers 
and poets, philanthropists and kings — where 
more of the dust of what w^as genius and great- 
ness is gathered, than ever lay under roof or 
stone ? There is something which almost bewil- 
ders the imagination, in the thought, that on the 
day and at the hour when our own bells were 
tolling his death-knell and people stopped to 
listen, in the streets, the requiem of the Danvers 
boy was pealing through aisle and cloister, thou- 
sands of miles away, where funeral song had 
rung and censers smoked, whole centuries before 
men knew the Continent which was his birth- 
place. It seems as if the dirge of to-day were a 
reverberation from the ages. And when we 
reflect how simple the career was, which closed 
amid all these honors : how little their subject 
had to do with the things which commonly stir 
men's bosoms and win the shouts of wonder and 
applause, in life or after it : that he was not 
great, as men judge greatness: that every badge 



15 

and trophy of his exceeding triumph was won 
by an unconscious and an unstained hand : I 
confess it seems to me that the grand, sponta- 
neous tributes which have been paid to him, have 
beggared the resources, while they have filled the 
measure, of panegyric. 

We are not required to forget, nor do we dispar- 
age the living or the dead by remembering, that 
something of this may be due to the peculiar 
relations existing, at the moment, between the 
countries which divided Mr. Peabody's bounty 
and affections. A becoming spirit of manly con- 
ciliation, on the one side, and an equally becoming 
temper and pride of nationality, upon the other, 
have no doubt had their share in these unprece- 
dented demonstrations. But there is nothing, in 
this, which detracts from the sincerity or impairs 
the significance of the homage that either has ren- 
dered. It is a new epoch in the history of gov- 
ernments, when the cavils of diplomacy and the 
mutterings of discord are hushed, even for an 
hour, by the spell of a good man's memory, and 
it were folly to dispute his place among his kind, 
whose death so touched the hearts of two great 
nations, that either could call unto the other to 
join hands with it across his grave. 



16 

But while these things, as I have said, appear 
to render eulogy idle, they are equally potent, in 
making just appreciation difficult. Through so 
much that dazzles, it is not easy to look, steadily 
and calmly, at the simple life and story which 
had so bright an ending. The quiet, systematic 
habits, the delving industry, the thrifty shrewd- 
ness and world- wisdom, the unsentimental benevo- 
lence, of the plain, practical merchant and banker, 
who walked among us, like others in his calling, 
are hard to deal with, fairly, at this epic stage of 
his renown. It seems like belittling the subject 
to consider it in the mere light of its realities. 
Indeed it requires an effort, at such a time, for 
the coldest thinker to divest himself of that enthu- 
siasm, whose natural expression is extravagance, 
and nothing but a sense of the great wrong which 
exaggeration would do, to a memory so far above 
it, could persuade a man of ordinary impulse that 
it is proper to moderate his words. jN'or is it 
only the contagion of the hour of homage which 
it is difficult to escape. There is something- 
splendid and attractive in generosity, in all its 
forms, and when its scope embraces the larger 
needs of humanity, and its resources are almost 
as ample as its scope, it carries feeling and 



17 

imagination away captive. We surround the 
life and the memory of the "cheerful giver" 
with a halo such as glitters only around conse- 
crated heads. The wonder of the crowd is almost 
worship, and men deem it half a sacrilege to 
seek, in merely human qualities, "the conjura- 
tion and the mighty magic " which seem so far 
beyond humanity. And yet, to do this only, is 
our duty here to-day. We have come to recog- 
nize and study, in the common light, the traits 
of the man and citizen, George Peabody ; to 
consider and teach, if we can, the moral of his 
simple, unheroic life. We are to look at him, 
as he moved and had his daily being, — as if his 
features did not live in bronze and no minute- 
gun had ever told his burial to the sea. Nay, 
it is our business to take from the record of his 
career all that tends to impair and falsify its 
lesson, by making men despair of rising to his 
level. Here, above all other places; with the 
sound of his own sturdy teachings scarce dull 
upon our ears ; with his simplicity and modesty — 
his good fellowship and plain dealing — fresh in 
our remembrance and affection; with all things 
round about us full of what he was and of all 
he claimed or cared to be; we should insult his 
3 



18 

memory, by attempting to add an inch to his 
stature. And indeed there is small need of fancy, 
in dealing with his story, for scarce anything 
in fiction is more strange than the actual prose 
of it. The child of poor parents and humble 
hopes — a grocer's boy at eleven, the assistant 
of a country shop-keeper at sixteen — he had 
reached but middle-life when he was able so to 
deal with the resources of the great money- centre 
of the world, as to prop, with his integrity and 
credit, the financial decadence of whole common- 
wealths. Pausing even at that point of his career 
— a period to which in Maryland our gratitude 
so frequently recurs — is it not more wonderful 
than the legend which delighted our childhood, 
the tale of Whittington, citizen and mercer, thrice 
Lord Mayor of London ? Was it not quite as easy, 
beforehand, for our stripling to imagine that he 
heard, across the waters, an invitation from Bow 
Bells to him, as to conceive that his statue w^ould 
be raised, in London streets, while yet he lived, 
and be unveiled, with words of reverence and 
honor, by the heir-apparent of that mighty empire, 
surrounded by its best and noblest ? Add to this 
what I have before described, and it seems as if 
another night had been added to the Thousand 
and One. 



19 

But, as I have said, our business is not with 
the wonders. It is with the mind, the heart, the 
will, the character which wrought them. These 
were the only genii of this story. They, and they 
only, did what was done, and neither ring nor 
lamp had any part in it. " No man," Carlyle 
tells us, " becomes a saint in his sleep," and there 
is no greater fallacy than the popular notion 
which so often attributes success, in great things, 
to luck. There are peoj)le, it is true, who stumble 
into prosperity and get place and power, by what, 
to mortal eye, seems chance. Reputation and the 
honors and profits which follow it are now and 
then wafted to a man, like thistle-down, for no 
better visible reason than that he happens to be 
out in the same wind with them. The crowd 
attach themselves, often, and cling, with devotion, 
to some singularly favored person, as burrs do to 
his clothing, simply, as it would appear, because 
he walks among them. But what seems does not 
necessarily represent what is, and a man must be 
hard to convince, if, after having used a micro- 
scope once, he be not satisfied, for life, that things 
exist and are comprehensible though he may 
neither see nor understand them himself. What 
therefore may appear to be exceptions to the 
general truth, that great results do not spring 



20 

« 

from insufficient causes, are commonly found to 
be strictly within it. In the course of any long 
life-time, the logic of cause and effect is apt to 
vindicate itself. In this busy, stirring, jostling, 
interested modern society of ours, where scarcely 
any one occupies a pedestal — or even an humbler 
place — but some one else goes anxiously to work 
to dislodge him and get there in his stead, we 
seldom find respect or deference, love or admira- 
tion, long yielded to a brother, unless there be 
that in him which commands them. The world 
may dally with its impostors and its charlatans 
— its trumpery great men, sham heroes and mock 
saints and sages — for a little while, but they 
finally go down, for the most part, into the recep- 
tacle — the huge Noah's Ark — of its spurned and 
worthless playthings. The winds of time and 
contest blow away the chaff, at last, from the 
great grain-floor of humanity — a blessed fact, by 
the by, which reconciles us to many tempests. 
Hemisphere does not cry aloud to hemisphere 
about common people. Nations do not mourn 
over men who deserve no tears. There was then 
something in George Peabody, or about him, 
that called for the homage which has been ren- 
dered him. What was it? 



21 

ISTot his intellect, certainly — for, neither in 
capacity nor cultivation, was he above the grade 
of thousands of clever men, both here and in 
England, in his own and kindred callings. He 
had not genius to dazzle, or invention to create. 
He had made no discovery in science, or even in 
finance. He knew little of art, and had contri- 
buted nothing to the stock of what is denominated 
"human knowledge." Statesman he was not — 
nay, not even politician. He had never worn 
spur on battle-field: had never filled ofiice, or 
wielded power, or sought to be any man's master 
but his own. There was not, I repeat, a single 
element in him or circumstance in his career, of 
those which enter into the common estimate of 
greatness. IN'either did riches win his name for 
him. He was no monopolist^ no miracle, of 
wealth : for enormous private fortunes are now 
constantly acquired, in half such a life-time as 
his, and the great marts of the world have men, 
far richer than he, whose accumulations have 
been gathered just as honestly, just as fortu- 
nately, and with quite as much sagacity as his. 
IN'or does he stand alone in the appropriation of 
large means to the good of mankind. The num- 
ber of rich men whose testaments dispense thfe 



22 

hoards of a lifetime, in works of usefulness, is 
very large. The past has left us many well- 
known and abiding monuments of such benefi- 
cence. True, there is a smack of death-bed 
repentance, as well as bounty, in these gifts ; a 
confession, at best, of intentions good but reluc- 
tant and long smothered by human infirmity. 
We cannot help feeling that they sometimes are, 
very much, in kind and motive, like the oholus 
which used to be placed between the lips of the 
dead, to pay for their safe ferrying across the 
infernal waters. But still, they clothe the naked, 
feed the hungry, comfort the sick, educate the 
poor — relieve, in all sorts of ways, the necessities 
and afflictions of humanity — and those who dis- 
pense them deserve well of their race. Though 
the good works which "blossom in their dust," 
might have yielded more fragrance under the 
culture of their hands, they are good works not- 
withstanding, and should be remembered with 
charity not less than gratitude — as they com- 
monly are. But the liberality of rich men is not 
always posthumous, and in the mere fact of 
giving and giving largely, in his life-time, Mr. 
Peabody was by no means singular. The world 
ife full, I was going to say — though that perhaps 



23 

is stating the case too strongly — of people who 
habitually give. They certainly are no rarity in 
it. Most of us give freely, to those we love — to 
our own flesh and blood, at all events. They who 
do not, belong, I think, to the class whom Burns 
characterizes as " the real hardened wicked," and 
it is wholesome to persuade ourselves that they 
are likewise "to a few restricked." When Thack- 
eray says, somewhere, that he never saw a fine 
boy, but he felt like giving him a guinea, he does 
not, I am sure, exaggerate the natural impulse of 
every healthy and manly heart. There are many, 
to whom this sort of impulse is a general, spon- 
taneous and often fatal rule of life. Some indeed 
— and a large class, — give because they cannot 
help it. Giving, with them, is almost a pleasure 
of sense. It is the natural expression of a feel- 
ing — as weeping and sighing are with others. 
It is at once the voice and the tear of their 
sympathy. The heart sends its quickened pulsa- 
tion directly to the hand, which only fetters could 
keep from the purse-strings. And this, too fre- 
quently, without check of prudence, or choice of 
object, or thought of to-morrow. We are apt to 
admire and indeed to love these people; for, to the 
common apprehension, the pleasure and advantage 



24 

of keeping money are so striking, that to part with 
it, freely, passes for a sacrifice. And yet, obvi- 
ously, they may be just as self-indulgent, in their 
way, as their next-door neighbor, whose heart is 
always in his burglar-proof safe and his hand 
never, except to increase or count his store. It 
may be their pleasure to scatter, as it is his to 
save, and they may consult nothing better than 
their pleasure, as he pursues nothing better than 
his. Sir Thomas Browne calls their's "but moral 
charity, and an act that oweth more to passion 
than reason." And he adds, in the same strain, 
that " He who relieves another, upon the bare 
suggestion and bowels of pity, doth not this so 
much for his sake, as for his own, for, by com- 
passion, we make other's misery our own, and 
so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also." 
Happily, the common heart is not quite so inge- 
nious or so analytical as this, but contents itself 
with feeling, that though the bountiful and the 
miser may be selfish, in their several ways, the 
one selfishness is still a better thing than the 
other. Indeed there is almost always something, 
in these heedless natures, which redeems the sin 
of their improvidence and self-indulgence, and 
although, when waste makes want, they have 



25 

often to eat husks in sorrow, and wait on those 
who are to them but swine, we cannot help think- 
ing, sometimes, that they belong to that class of 
prodigals for whom a fatted calf will be killed, 
one day, when they will eat and drink, and be 
as merry as the hundreds they have fed in their 
time. To this kind of givers, our experience must 
add that other and familiar class, who part with 
money readily, because they are incapacitated, by 
nature, from feeling its value. I say feeling — 
because the processes of the heart are so much 
quicker than those of the head, that it profits a 
man very little, in these matters, only to under- 
stand and know. The battle is generally lost, 
in such case, before the reserves come up. But 
how many people, especially women, are we 
not acquainted with — every one of us here, — 
whose whole existence is a mission of benefi- 
cence; who know and feel the worth of money 
and yet spend it, on others, without stint; with 
whom the poor, as Beranger has it, are harves- 
ters, not gleaners ; whose hands are as open as 
the prodigal's and yet never waste; in whom the 
love of giving is so chastened by the love of the 
Great Giver, that they dispense their bounty as 
His alms, and make of charity a very worship? 
4 



26 

These however are the silent and humble Sama- 
ritans of the highways and by-ways, who, for the 
most part, are only followed by individual grati- 
tude or personal aifection. They do not amass for- 
tunes, or make testaments, or have statues erected 
to them. The great world knows little about them 
and, as a whole, cares little, for though they are 
no trifling element in its economy, they seem so, to 
the thoughtless, in the broad scope of an economy 
so large. 

If I am right then in supposing that the secret 
of Mr. Peabody's fame is not to be found in the 
mere fact of his having given, and given freely, 
in his life-time, to good objects, where else are 
we to look for it? JSTot, surely, in the magnitude 
of his benefactions. It were shame to judge him 
by a standard so vulgar and unworthy. It would 
not only be to scandalize his memory, but to throw 
away the whole moral and lesson of his life. The 
homage which is rendered to the givers of great 
gifts, merely because their gifts are great, is but 
parcel of that deification and worship of wealth, 
which is the opprobrium of our times. When 
this comes in the shape of a tribute to the dead, 
it is, of course, comparatively free from the perso- 
nal servility, the self-abasing deference, the mean 



27 

genuflections, which pay court to the living rich. 
But it is the same ignoble thing, in its motive 
and essence, though the sables be wrapped around 
it and what men knelt to before may have become 
as the dust in which they knelt. And just as 
royalty, succeeding, is studious and exigent of 
pomp and splendor, in the obsequies of royalty 
dead, so, and for the same reason, wealth, surviv- 
ing, exaggerates the dignity of wealth departed, 
and those who adore and would propitiate the 
one, crowd to canonize and glorify the other. 
To deal in such a spirit with the man whose 
birth-day we commemorate, would be to degrade 
ourselves and crush him, basely, like Tarpeia, 
with the weight of his own gold. It is the very 
fact that a million more or a million less would 
have counted but as a farthing, either way, in 
the just estimate of his purposes and character, 
which makes the rare nobility and worth of his 
example. Without the millions we might perhaps 
have had less of the pageant, but we should have 
had none the less of the man. Eleven years 
ago, it came within the province of the present 
speaker, on a public and interesting occasion, to 
illustrate the theme before him by an allusion to 
Mr. Peabody, who had then taken but the earli- 



28 

est steps in the career of his open beneficence. 
You will pardon, I hope, the repetition of what 
was then said, because it puts in a few words 
precisely the idea which I desire, at this moment, 
to express, and having been written in advance 
of the later and more famous charities of our 
Founder, it will show that those who knew and 
respected him, then, esteemed the source from 
which his good deeds sprang, far more for itself 
than for its fruits. The language then used, was 
the following: 

"When I see a man like George Peabody — a 
man of plain intellect and moderate education — 
who is willing to take away from the acquisitions 
of successful trade, what would make the fortunes 
of a hundred men of reasonable desires, and dedi- 
cate it to the advancement of knowledge and the 
cultivation of refining and liberal pursuits and 
tastes, among a people with whom he has ceased 
to dwell, except in the recollections of early indus- 
try and struggle — I recognize a spirit which tends 
to make men satisfied with the inequalities of for- 
tune — which is alive to the true ends and pur- 
poses of labor — which gives as well as takes — 
which sees, in the very trophies of success, the 
high incumbent duties and the noble pleasure of 



29 

a stewardship for others. And yet, one such man 
— in himself — in his life and the example which 
it gives — is worth tenfold more to a community, 
than all the beneficence of which his heart may 
make him prodigal." 

Feeling and believing this, I should be false to 
my own conception of the honorable duty assigned 
to me, if I did not protest against regarding what 
is called the " princeliness " of Mr. Peabody's 
munificence, as other than an element entirely 
subordinate, in any just and manly appreciation 
of his character. And indeed, after all, I must 
own that the large bounty of ordinary rich men 
does not impress me, always, as it seems to strike 
many others. Liberality is a relative thing, and, 
obviously, what is generous and whole-souled, in 
one person, viewed in its relation to his means 
and his own wants, may, in the same relation, be 
niggardly or narrow, in another. The good that 
giving does may be the test of its value, but cer- 
tainly is not of its merit. That is best determined, 
humanly speaking, by what it costs the giver to 
give. I do not mean what it ought not to cost — 
the agony which miserly reluctance suffers, in 
parting with a fragment of its hoard, under the 
torture of entreaty or the dread of shame or 



30 

death — but that cheerful, conscious and deliber- 
ate self-sacrifice, which renders the mite of the 
widow more precious, a thousand fold, than the 
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh of the Magi. 
I speak of self-sacrifice, for (with a single and 
melancholy qualification which I shall presently 
consider) it is hard to understand how there can 
be much merit in the simple act of giving to 
others what we do not ourselves need. On the 
contrary, it is difficult to conceive what greater 
pleasure a rich man could possibly have in his 
wealth, than that of pouring out its superabun- 
dance, in works of kindliness and charity. It is 
not meant by this to set up a very high standard. 
I am not talking of disciples, who are to part 
with all that they possess and follow their Master, 
It is not a question of surrendering one single 
reasonable, or even luxurious, personal gratifica- 
tion. I speak of superabundance merely — of 
that which is over and above what the owner, 
in any reasonable vvay, can expend upon himself, 
his comforts, his tastes, his luxuries, nay, if you 
please, the vices of his station. But — all these 
things reserved and cared for — and treating the 
disposition of the surplus as a selfish gratifica- 
tion merely, and as nothing higher or better, it 



31 

seems, I repeat, incomprehensible to a genial — 
I need not say a generous — nature, that a man 
can possibly get greater happiness out of it, than 
must come from dispensing it in kindness. Gon- 
zalo De Cordova, of Spain, the Great Captain, was 
one of those who held this faith. " Never stint 
your hand" — he said to his steward — "there is 
no mode of enjoying one's property like giving it 
away." It is true the illustrious soldier may have 
occasionally treated as his property what did not 
precisely belong to him, but his preaching was 
none the worse for this, because his practice, with 
his own, came nobly up to it. Going a little 
more deeply too into the vanities as well as the 
virtues which this discussion involves, Lord Lyt- 
ton says, with great point, in one of his more 
serious works, that "Charity is a feeling dear to 
the pride of the human heart. It is an aristo- 
cratic emotion . . . the easiest virtue to practice." 
There is no doubt that in the sense in which he 
speaks of charity, the observation is as just as it 
is clever. - If a rich man covets respect and influ- 
ence : if he desires to attract sympathy and hear 
himself praised: to be looked up to, flattered, fol- 
lowed and caressed in life, and have an epitaph, 
after it, like a player's good report — deserving 



32 

none of these things, the while — there is no 
cheaper or more certain means of securing them 
all, than a few judicious investments of his abun- 
dance in what ought to be charity. When he 
purchases, at the same time, by the same outlay, 
the pleasure of doing good and the incense of 
gratitude, one cannot feel that the cross which 
he has taken up is a very heavy one, or that 
he walks upon celestial heights above the hearts 
of common men. 

If I am right then, in assuming that the lesson 
of our Founder's life lies not in that he gave, or 
gave before he died, or gave superbly — nor, indeed 
in all these things cbmbined — what is there left 
that teaches it? We must turn back upon the 
life itself, to give us answer. 

Mr, Peabody was not a man of gushing sensi- 
bilities, nor did he belong, in any sense, to that 
class who are free with money because they do 
not know or feel its value. Indeed there were 
few of his contemporaries, in whom this latter 
element of generosity was less developed. He 
knew all about money, and valued it at its full, 
current worth. He knew it, as a man knows a 
friend and ought to know an enemy. That his 
nature was genuinely kind, all who were near 



33 

him would have known — as well as they know 
it now — if he had died a bankrupt. His face, 
alone, told that part of his story, for his smile 
was of the sort men cannot counterfeit — 

" His eyes, 
An outdoor sign of all the good within, 
Smiled with his lips." 

But his sympathies, nevertheless, were not 
coined, at sight of need, into money. He began 
life, with none of it to give, or even to keep. 
He was very poor. What he gained, he toiled 
for, and it came painfully and slowly. He said 
the prayer for his daily bread, as we are told 
none but a poor man's child can say it, and he 
was willing to do anything honest and manly to 
turn the penny that he needed. Even after he 
had been established, for some time, in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, and his prospects had very 
much improved, I learn from a venerable friend, 
Mr. Peabody's senior, (whose memory, like the 
rest of his fine faculties, appears only to brighten 
with age) that he offered to forward packages 
to Baltimore and appealed to the public for their 
patronage. As he had no capital, his enterprise 
could have been but a small one, probably in- 
5 



34 

volving nothing but his personal attention, and 
I allude to it, merely to show that he was not 
only content, at that time, but anxious, to earn 
small sums in a small way. Naturally too, he 
was no doubt equally disposed to keep what he 
earned. Overboard at sea and compelled to sink 
or swim, it was not strange that he should feel 
the importance of making his own raft seaworthy, 
before he pushed away a plank that he could hold. 
Besides, he was eminently a man of thrift. He 
came into the world with it, and he drew it in 
from the atmosphere into which he was born. 
He liked to make, and to save, and to increase 
his store, and he liked the store itself, after it 
was increased — the more the better. Money- 
making was a pleasure to him, as well as an 
instinct of his nature. Clearly, these circum- 
stances were not favorable to the development, 
in him, of Gonzalo De Cordova's doctrine. He 
was a man of the busiest industry too, and had 
no fancy for drones — thinking possibly, as we 
are all apt to think, when prosperous, or when 
health and energy and strength are bounding in 
us, that no man need want who will work. 
Besides, he was full of system and fond of 
detail, two mighty curbs upon the imagination. 



35 

Under all these influences he pursued, as he 
began, a saving, pains-taking, careful life, and 
when he had become rich, these characteristics 
had grown with his fortune. His case was pre- 
cisely the reverse of that described in the Cas- 
tilian proverb, which says — "The money of 
the Sacristan comes singing and goes singing." 
His habits therefore continued, as they always 
had been, simple and frugal. His desires had 
not grown with his ability to indulge them, nor 
had his tastes. Neither had the pride of purse 
entered, with its seven other devils, into his 
robust and downright nature. He was the same 
man that he had alwaj^s been — only richer. 
And when still greater wealth came to him, by 
the rapid processes of speculation, it had no 
power to dazzle him or make him giddy. He 
looked after it, invested it carefully and closely, 
increased it to the best of his ability, and en- 
joyed, as keenly as his fellows, the pleasure 
which these processes always bring, to men who 
deal in money, and have that knack of handling 
it, to profit, which is born in some, like poetry, 
but cannot be learned. IS^or was he at all 
ashamed, so long as he remained in business, 
to promote its success by all 'honorable means. 



36 

On the contrary, he took pains to do this. He 
was glad to make friends, and to see them grow 
into customers. He was as thrifty in fine — as 
decided and constant in his business-purposes, and 
as close and systematic in promoting them — after 
he had become a great financial power, as when he 
ate his bread in the sweat of his face. Now and 
then he seemed to forget all this. It were more 
accurate, to say that he pushed it aside, in the 
presence of higher considerations. When his 
patriotism or his national pride was touched, he 
did not let it stand for a moment in the way of 
his remembering and doing what became him, 
with a largeness of purpose and freedom of hand 
which showed that the manhood of his nature 
was still fresh and true. He threw into his 
labors for the restoration of the credit of Mary- 
land, his soul as well as his fortune, and refused 
any compensation but the jjleasure and the pride 
of the great good which he had assisted in con- 
summating. He stood in the stead of his whole 
country, to save her from the shame of official 
neglect and meanness, when the Great Exhibi- 
tion assembled the nations together. He speeded 
the brave enterprise of Kane on its mission of 
science and humanity, with a liberality and in a 



37 

spirit of which there is reason to believe the 
whole story has never been told. Yet, all the 
while, he, himself, remained as of old, modest, 
moderate, economical and thrifty — living in lodg- 
ings, without retinue or luxury — not unwilling 
to save a farthing, if it came in his way^ — willing 
to go out of his way rather than waste or even 
lose one. He would still have his bargain, 
about the small thing as well as the great, and 
he would make men stand to their bargains and 
give him, in the way of business, the fraction 
that belonged to him. Imposition he resented 
and resisted, no matter how minute its form, 
and he would protect himself from it, if he had 
to cavil for his ninth part of a hair. A friend 
who knew him well and had his confidence, has 
told me, that one day, in London, after an inter- 
view in which they had discussed together his 
latest and most bounteous charities — when he 
was dispensing millions, with a stroke of his 
pen, — Mr. Peabody refused to take a cab, and 
insisted on walking, because the cabman they 
had called wanted more than his lawful fare. 
Thus, beneath the surface of his munificence, his 
large public sympathies, his generous patriotism, 
flowed on the old current of thrift, economy, close- 



38 

ness and money-loving. Perhaps, rather, the two 
streams ran side by side in the same bed, like 
the united waters of the Arve and Rhone — one 
earthy and bearing the stain of the earth, the 
other bright with the hue of the sky. 

But there came a time, at last, when this busy, 
accumulating life, with its seemingly inconsistent 
traits and phases, was to be rounded into its final 
development and true expression. The elements 
of character which appeared so much in contrast 
with each other as scarcely to be reconciled, were 
to be shown working, all the while, harmoniously 
together. The man of calculation and acquisition 
— almost of greed, if you please — with all the 
habits and temptations which are commonly in- 
separable from the career of such, was of a sud- 
den to rise up superior to them all, as if he had 
never known them — a head and shoulders higher 
than his seeming self. The man whose practical 
life had been mainly dedicated to saving, was to 
consecrate the rest of it to giving. The man who 
loved money and had lived in the pursuit of it, 
was to reach that point — almost unattainable by 
humanity — at which he was to feel and say: "I 
have enough!" Such phenomena are develop- 
ments, not changes. If Mr. Peabody's whole 



39 

heart had been in money during the long years 
when he was " gathering gear," he could never, in 
his old age, have shaken oif the golden fetters. The 
result showed which had been master and which 
servant, all the while. The fruit proved the tree. 
And yet the fruit had in it much taste of the soil 
in which the tree grew. The system, the care, the 
prudence, which had gathered and preserved his 
wealth, were developed as well in its appropria- 
tion. In fact he made benevolence his business 
and dealt with it as such. Its merely sympathetic 
guise did not seem to attract him. At all events 
he did not yield greatly to its attraction. He 
did not grasp at the near pleasure which comes 
from the contact of present charity with present 
suffering. For his kindred, he provided with 
generosity, yet without prodigality. His aims 
were wider and his sight went farther than 
would have been consistent with bestowing his 
wealth on individuals, no matter how much he 
prized them. He had not mounted upon a high 
hill, without having his horizon expanded. He 
saw humanity in the distance as well as beside 
him, and saw it was the same humanity, far off 
as near. Yet his extended vision rested, where 
the mists beojan. It did not seek to penetrate 



40 

the realms of unreality. He was not misled by 
any dream of reforming the world. The consci- 
ousness of being able to do something for man- 
kind, and the desire to do all that he could, did 
not betray him into the folly of supposing that 
he could do every thing. He was as far from 
being a schemer as if he had not the means of 
scheming. He was not imaginative, much less 
fanciful. He knew that wealth is the great lever 
of the world and that his hand was on it, but he 
had no notion that, with it, he could change the 
course of the planet. He had seen enough of 
what is commonly called "philanthropy," in his 
generation, and had no taste for it. Probably he 
had heard of Robespierre's early philippic against 
capital punishment, and knew the value of specu- 
lative benevolence. He therefore did not lend 
himself or his money to the schemes of those 
excellent but somewhat self-engrossed and not 
very useful people, who think that society is like 
Pandora's box, with its great good at the bottom, 
and that the true way of getting at this, is to 
turn the whole upside down. The solitary blow, 
as far as I have seen, which malice has aimed 
at his memory, has come from a " humanita- 
rian " quarter — as if to demonstrate the just- 



41 

ness of his appreciation. Looking at human 
nature, in the light of his own experience, and 
valuing most highly, in it, that healthy, vigorous, 
independence which was his own peculiar trait, 
he thought he could help his fellow-creatures best, 
by teaching them to help themselves. He like- 
wise thought that, on the whole, more good was 
to be done by striking the evils of humanity 
at their root, than by providing for a few of 
their victims. These were the simple principles 
which guided the application of his bounty. He 
persuaded himself that cleanliness, industry and 
thrift are preventives of disease and poverty ; 
that the vices which fester in the squalid den 
have no place in the decent and cheerful home 
— so, instead of founding hospitals and alms- 
houses, for London vagrants and paupers, he 
offered the attraction of cheap and comfortable 
dwellings to those who are willing to work. He 
believed that education, refining occupations, cul- 
tivated tastes, the study and the love of art 
and science are, next to religion, the great safe- 
guards and purifiers of society, and accordingly 
he founded institutes, libraries, professorships, 
boards of education, to diffuse and encourage 
them among his countrymen. In all this, he 
6 



42 

followed the bent of his life — investing instead 
of spending. Nor did he follow the example of 
some founders, who retain control over their 
foundations and deceive themselves into the be- 
lief that they are administering, what they are 
only unable to give up the pleasure of handling. 
He placed all that he gave in the hands of 
others — absolutely and without reserve. It was 
his honest and deliberate judgment that the best 
use he could make of the grain he had garnered 
was to turn it into seed, not food. So he chose 
his ground and planted, in the faith that future 
seed-time and oft-returning harvest would vindi- 
cate his choice, under His blessing who sends 
down the early and the latter rain. 

Was this, it has been asked, as loving a use 
of his wealth, as if he had flung it into the palms 
of the needy? In one sense, of course, it was 
not. In another and a loftier one, it was far 
more so. If Mr. Peabody had dedicated his 
fortune and remaining years to personal alms- 
giving, and had sent out to the lanes and hedges 
for the weary and the wretched: if he had chosen, 
for his almoners, the institutions and associations 
which deal, from day to day, with every-day suf- 
fering and sorrow, he would, no doubt, have 



43 

swept a softer and a gentler chord of sympathy. 
We are flesh to each other, though we be spirits 
before God, and the sweet 

"music, to whose tone 
The common pulse of man keeps time," 

answers most tenderly the touch of a warm, 
human hand. Who can have read Lamb's ex- 
quisite " Complaint of the Decay of Beggars," 
without feeling that the A^ery shifts and impos- 
tures of poverty have all the pathos of a tribute 
to the daily kindliness and goodness which walk 
among the poor? With his fortune and his pur- 
poses of good, if Mr. Peabody had chosen, he 
might have had crowds follow him^ as kings were 
followed when men thought their touch would 
heal. And few men, with his heart, and no 
man, with less high resolves than his, could 
have resisted so egregious a temptation. Nor, 
indeed, would it have been necessary he should 
do so, if all men were prepared, as he was, to 
ffive accordino; to their means. It is the lack of 
such a disposition, in the mass of us, which calls 
on wise benevolence to stay its hand, and con- 
centrate and organize its charities. If we were, 
to one another, all that we are commanded and 



44 

ought to be, large fortunes would rarely be 
gathered and eleemosynary foundations would be 
superfluous. If every man did really look upon 
his neighbor as his brother, or love him as him- 
self, the circle of charity would belt a happy 
world, and every private life would be an insti- 
tution of beneficence. Why this great scheme of 
Christianity is not wrought out yet, or when it 
will be, we may not know. Society therefore 
must deal with its problems as it finds them, 
and think for to-morrow as well as for to-day. 
In fact, the very application of large private 
wealth to present purposes of charity, has its ill 
effects as well as good. There is a class of 
moral and most respectable people, who pay, 
with absolute punctuality, all the debts that can 
be recovered from them by law, but who do not 
recognize, with equal alacrity, the obligation of 
any others. They think they have done all that 
they are called to do, in behalf of education and 
charity, when they have paid the taxes levied for 
schools and almshouses. They are typified by 
Jeremy Taylor's " man of ordinary piety," whom 
he likens to " Gideon's fleece, wet in its own 
locks, but it could not water a poor man's gar- 
den." To these worthy citizens, the benevolence 



45 

of others appears only to come in aid of muni- 
cipal contribution, and the larger its abundance 
the greater the justification they find in it for 
their unwillingness to give to any but the public 
collector, or to give to him any more than they 
can help. Why should they trouble themselves 
to take in the poor estrays of humanity, when 
there is room enough for them in the common 
pound which the public or some one else has 
provided ? It is not worth while for society to 
shut its eyes to these and kindred considerations, 
and the wise and good who undertake to be 
its benefactors, must act for the world as it is, 
and subordinate sentiment to prudence and duty. 
They must look to the future and mankind, not 
less than to the present and the individual. And 
it is in this sense that their charity is the noblest 
of all, because it is the largest of all, in its 
scope. It goes even beyond the love which has 
been beautifully described, as "not a spasm but a 
life." It imitates, with reverence, as far as man 
may imitate, the workings of that Supreme Bene- 
ficence, which guides by large rules the universal 
plan of its goodness. Nor does it recognize, the 
less, its relation to humanity. The human sym- 
pathy which wins a blessing from the way-side 



46 

beggar is none the less heartfelt and human, 
surely, because it is expanded in purpose and 
through time, and is directed and informed by 
system and intelligence. 

And here a thought presents itself, on which I 
cannot pause to dwell, but which appears not alto- 
gether barren of suggestion. Enormous capital is 
one of the phenomena — perhaps the mightiest 
engine — of our civilization. Vast fortunes are 
in many hands, private as well as corporate, and 
vastness is the characteristic of all enterprises, 
good and bad. Side by side with this increase 
in wealth and the number of those who control it, 
is another phenomenon, almost as singular under 
the circumstances. I mean the great and general 
diifusion of competence and comfort, among the 
multitudes who are not rich — among those who 
labor with their hands, as well as those of more 
liberal pursuits. In this state of society, and 
regarding, comprehensively, the interests as well 
as the resources of the community at large, it 
is well worth considering, whether the field of 
benevolence, proper to be cultivated by the very 
rich, is not precisely that which Mr. Peabody 
selected, leaving the more personal and minor 
charities to minor fortunes. The distribution 
seems a wise one, if benevolence be not ashamed 



47 

to learn from greed. If concentration of cai^ital, 
which is power, has been found to serve the pur- 
poses of gain, it cannot less promote the nobler 
industries of loving-kindness. 

But — whether the disposition which Mr. Pea- 
body made of his wealth was more or less genial 
or wise, has nothing to do with the spirit in 
which he parted with it. He dedicated it to ends 
which he honestly thought good. He directed it 
wisely, according to his best wisdom. Whether 
he was right, or was mistaken, in his modes or 
his ends, his riches at all events went away from 
himself. In the ripe maturity of a yet vigor- 
ous life and the unembarrassed control of a 
colossal fortune ; at an age when the love of 
money is apt to seize upon those who have loved 
it least, and becomes the very existence of those 
who have always loved it; when, if men pause 
from struggling, it is to enjoy in tranquility 
the fruits of struggle; honored; respected; with 
every avenue accessible to his ambition which 
popularity could open and every prize at his 
command which wealth could buy — (and what 
can it not buy?) — he deliberately converted his 
remaining years into a season of stewardship and 
surrendered himself to his kind. In the simple 
and touchino- language of the epitaph which com- 



48 



memorates the founder of the Charity Hospital 
at Seville: "He gave to them whatever he had." 
There is no record, that I know, of any man 
who, in like case, did likewise. Monarchs, it is 
true, have abdicated thrones, in the fulness of 
power. But, for the most part, it was a retire- 
ment from self, in one form, into self in another. 
Satiety of pomp and pleasure — rejientance of 
misdeeds — a weariness of strife and longing for 
repose — made them fling down their sceptres in 
the reaction of despair. The jaded soul yearned 
for deliverance and rushed into the shades for 
refuge. Those who have followed Charles into 
the cloisters of Yuste, will remember how the 
phantoms of empire still haunted the devotee at 
the altar. But the love of money is more ab- 
sorbing and more abiding than even the love of 
power. Avarice may not always be a worse pas- 
sion than ambition, but it is a lower one. Its 
poison may not be the deadliest to the moral 
nature, but it is as deadly as any and is the 
most penetrating and pervading of all. Ambi- 
tion is consistent w4th the noblest and most 
generous aims. Sometimes indeed 'tis but their 
splendid herald. Avarice is selfish only, and its 
selfishness is all meanness. It not only panders 



49 

to self, but to all the basenesses of self-seeking. 
It dwarfs the intellect; chokes every generous 
impulse; rots every seed of human feeling; toler- 
ates no passion even, that is not, like itself, a 
lust. It breaks, in fine, all links but one, and 
that the foulest, between the miser and his 
species. What avarice is, the pursuit of money 
tends to. The monks of St. Francis expressed 
a great truth (though in what Bacon calls a 
" friarly " way) when they warned Rienzi that 
money was not to be trusted. " The purse of 
our Lord," they told him, " was committed to 
Judas. If it had been meant as a good thing, it 
w^ould have been entrusted to St. Peter." Deal- 
ing with money — thinking of it, turning it over 
— as an exclusive occupation, men become as if 
under a demoniacal possession. And no fiend 
more fearful ever entered human soul, than the 
vice which turns hopes and affections, desires 
and aspirations, all, into self. How grandly 
Tennyson has taught us, lately, in "The Holy 
Grail," that all the heroism which ever sought 
earthly good or heavenly reward is powerless to 
win them, unless self be immolated on the altar. 

" Galahad, when he heard of Merlin's doom, 
Cried 'If I lose myself, I save myself.'" 



50 

Search the annals of men who have honored 
and blessed their race : look through the daily 
walks of lofty and of common life, of public ser- 
vice and of private toil; go round the circles of 
domestic love and happiness ; and, everywhere, 
you find that the secret of one man's being held 
better than another, and more loved and worthy 
of love than another ; the mainspring of men's 
permanent influence and real power over other 
men and crowds of men ; is their capacity to with- 
draw themselves from self — to bestow heart and 
soul upon something outside of themselves ; upon 
some other living creature ; on friends, or coun- 
try, or on all the creatures of God. Analyze 
every good thing we do, from great to small, and 
that will turn out to be its essence. Self-sacri- 
fice, in all its shapes, is made up of it. It speaks 
in a child's confession of a fault, and it flushed 
the cheek of Curtius as he leapt into the gulf. 
Patriotism is vapid hypocrisy, and the battle-field 
murder, without it. The divine blood which the 
Knights of Arthur sought after, with their swords 
and prayers, was shed as a type of it and to be 
a lesson of it, from on High, forever. And it is 
to this especial virtue, the root of all virtues and 
of all true manhood, that money-hunting and 



51 

money-handling are essentially hostile and per- 
petually fatal. The hand goes on grasping and 
holding fast, till it parts with all power but that 
of grasping and holding. The heart and the mus- 
cles, alike, lose every function but that of contract- 
ing. When old Strahan, the printer, recalled to 
Dr. Johnson a remark of his, that "there are few 
ways in which a man can be more innocently em- 
ployed than in getting money," he added, and 
with entire unconsciousness of the force of what 
he was saying, that *'the more one thinks of 
this, the juster it will appear." Johnson, whose 
experience in money-getting certainly entitled his 
opinion to great weight, and who fully appreci- 
ated the justice of his own observations, appeared 
to think so too. And, in fact, it is the thinking 
of it which perverts the judgment and corrupts 
the heart. The more one thinks of it, the more 
he yields to it, and the less he is able to think 
of anything besides. Thus is it that we see, so 
often, the large designs, the long-considered 
plans, of men whose natures -in themselves are 
kindly, made futile— sometimes simply despicable 
-^by their incapacity to loose their hold upon 
the merest superfluities of fortune. Thus is it, 
that benevolence so often sinks into that "painted 
sepulchre of alms," a testamentary bequest, and 



52 

only the relaxation of the dying moment can 
open the clutching fingers. 

It is this which I promised to consider, when 
I spoke, a little while ago, of the single and 
melancholy circumstance, which made it other- 
wise than strange that rich men did not find, 
in giving, the highest pleasure and privilege of 
wealth. And it is because George Peabody was 
above all this: because he made himself a rich 
man, from poverty, without being corrupted by 
great riches: because the soil of his nature was 
so generous, that the very root of all evil sprang 
up to immeasurable good in it — it is for this that 
the world reverences him to-day. Not merely 
for the good he did, since that depended on 
his means and opportunities, and must depend, 
to a great extent, upon others hereafter — not for 
the magnitude of his ofiferings, for his wealth 
was but the platform which lifted his virtues into 
sight — but because he furnished an example, never 
known in the world before, of a man who united 
all the love of money, which makes men richest 
and most men meanest, with all the scorn of its 
dominion which burns in the noblest soul. To 
live a life of painful and painstaking acquisition: 
to wrestle with covetousness, while climbing from 



53 

early destitution to the height of what a covetous 
heart could desire; and then to put his foot upon 
his gains and their temptations, like a gladiator 
on a wild beast vanquished — this is the spectacle 
which has made the world's amphitheatre tumul- 
tuous. Nor is the shout for the moment only, 
to be lost in the common noise. So long as men 
shall wrestle in the same arena and other men 
look on, it shall ring in the ears of the wrestlers 
and nerve them to win their fight. There is no 
death in victories like this, for such deeds of our 
better nature partake of its own immortality. 
Men wonder, after long centuries, at the Diocle- 
tians and the Amuraths, who flung away the 
purple when it was the only symbol of power, 
and now that money is king over kings, they 
must remember, with greater admiration, the rich 
man who discrowned himself. In proportion to 
their admiration are the greatness and the lesson 
of his example. 

And let us not forget how much the simple 
dignity of that example has added to its lustre. 
We are familiar with the honors which were ten- 
dered to Mr. Peabody — the tributes of national 
gratitude and popular affection and respect, which 
crowded, as it were, around him, in his later days. 



54 

He knew their value fully — no man better. He 
knew it too well to be indiiferent to them and he 
was too much a man to affect indifference. He 
felt that the kind, the almost affectionate words 
which the Queen of Great Britain addressed to 
him, were not merely the generous utterance of 
her own womanly and gentle thought, but ex- 
pressed the feeling and opinion of a great and 
manly people, whose applause is almost fame. 
He cherished the sympathy and praise of his 
own country, as a man listens to the blessing 
of his mother. He loved approbation, like most 
men who deserve it, and its expression was the 
more welcome to him, because he knew it was 
deserved. Yet he was shaken from his poise by 
neither praise, nor gratitude, nor honors. He was 
unchanged, as if his right hand had not heard 
of the doings of his left» He passed under the 
arches, without a thrill or a gesture of triumph, 
and his life, after, was as his life before. In all 
that he has made us proud to remember, we can 
remember nothing more proudly than this. 

To such a life there could be but a fitting close: 

"His twelve, long sunny hours 
Bright to the edge of darkness ; then the calm 
Keposc of twilight and a crown of stars I " 



55 

Having thus given, imperfectly I know, but to 
the best of my ability and with all the fulness 
which the occasion will permit, my honest though 
humble judgment of the life and character of Mr. 
Peabody and the great moral taught by his career 
— having striven, above all things, to speak of him 
nothing but the truth — I should feel that my duty 
was discharged, if I stood anywhere save where 
I am. But here, in Baltimore, upon the soil of 
Maryland, in the presence of so many of her citi- 
zens and their official representatives assembled 
in his honor; surrounded, on his birth -day, by his 
old companions, by the memories of his devotion 
and the tokens of his bounty : I feel that there is 
something more, which should not go unsaid. I 
care not to speak of the resources he placed at 
our disposal, for the education and improvement 
of our people, nor even of the signal service he 
tendered to the State in the days of her financial 
w^eakness and humiliation. What we owe him; 
for these things, need not be told. Our sense of 
their value is written, in grateful words, on our 
Legislative records, and they are part of our 
history, as they will be of our remembrance, for 
ever. But the good- will which prompted them, 
and which cannot be measured, should not pass 



66 

unacknowledged to-day. We are proud of that 
confidence in the rectitude of our people, which 
made him our champion, before the world, when 
some of the best and wisest among ourselves had 
fallen away from their faith in our honor. We 
rejoice, for his sake not less than for our own, 
to have proven that his confidence was just — to 
have aided him in vindicating the lofty principle 
of his life, that to think well of mankind is 
wisdom. We recall, with tenderness, the attach- 
ment he felt for our City, as " the home of his 
early business, and the scene of his youthful 
exertions." We give him back the sympathies 
which distance and time could not weaken in his 
bosom nor prosperity efface. We cherish the 
feeling that he was one of ourselves — that if he 
had given away his heart, as dying kings give 
theirs, he would have sent it to be buried among 
us. We cling to his fame and his example a^ 
part of our own heritage, and to the brotherhood 
which was between us, as even dearer than his 
fame. 

But other considerations, belonging to this place 
and this occasion, press upon me yet more en- 
grossingly than these. There is an Eastern story, 
of a man who could bear a thousand pounds 



'57 

weight, but a single hard word was too heavy 
for him ; and there are times when to hush that 
word and say a single one of kindness, is the 
grandest act and the richest gift of charity. 
Upon this very spot — it seems but yesterday, 
though years and death have come between — 
I heard Mr. Peabody pour out his heart, on the 
occasion to which I alluded in my opening. How 
what he said affected others, they know best, but 
thinking and believing of him, truly, all that I 
have sought to say, I own that I have felt and 
said it twice as warmly, in memory of that day. 
He had lived among us, a Northern man among 
a Southern people, loving and beloved. He had 
left us happy and united — he returned to find us 
sullen and divided. The wounds of our then 
recent civil strife were yet unhealed. Political 
antagonisms, social resentments — personal and 
• even domestic animosities — were still rankling, 
and it was next to impossible for any man to 
speak, without offence to some one whom he 
cared for, of what brooded so ominously over 
the hearts of so many. But Mr. Peabody felt 
that his opportunity was great for good, and that 
opportunity made duty. He took the chances of 
offence, and spoke what was in him, like a man. 
8 



58 

While he proclaimed that his sympathies had 
been always with the Union and his hopes with 
the success of its armies, he dared to proclaim, 
at the same time, his respect for the integrity 
and manhood of the vanquished. He traced and 
recognized, with the philosophy of truth and 
kindness, the influence of birth and education 
on opinion. He braved the censure of zealots, 
on the one side, by dealing with the convictions 
of the South as error — he braved it equally, 
upon the other, by a manly protest against con- 
founding such error wdth crime. 

"Never, therefore," he said, "during the war 

or since, have I permitted the contest, or any 

passions engendered by it, to interfere with the 

« 
social relations and warm friendships which I 

had formed for a very large number of the peo- 
ple of the South. * * * * ^j^^ ^Q^y^ after 
the lapse of these eventful years, I am more 
deeply, more earnestly, more painfully convinced 
than ever, of our need of mutual forbearance and 
conciliation, of Christian charity and forgiveness, 
of united effort to bind up the fresh and broken 
wounds of the nation." 

I know of more than one estrangement which 
those noble words of his reconciled. I know of 



59 

more than one bosom, in which they dried the 
waters of bitterness — more than one fountain of 
tears, long sealed, which they opened. Time will 
be, when men shall wonder that such counsels 
could ever have been needed, and more will be 
the marvel that even passion did not blush to 
deny them welcome. Here, where he uttered 
them, and standing almost in his presence, I do 
them grateful reverence. And when I think how 
the charity from which they sprang went out 
into the desolate places of war; how it poured 
its treasures into kindly and trusted hands, that 
they might minister to the higher needs of our 
crushed and helpless kindred ; I seem to see a 
light around the good man's image, more radi- 
ant, tenfold, than the sunbeam which flashed 
across the i^bbey to his pall. These crowning 
acts of his whole life — its 

"bright consummate flower — " 

gave all that was needed^ of fulness, to its lesson, 
and all that could be added, of greatness and 
beauty, to his example. He had taught us that 
brilliant qualities of intellect or character are not 
indispensable to make men useful or honored, and 
that the real benefactors of their kind are not 



60 

they at the sound of whose name the world 
stands still. He had shown how the humble and 
the poor may lift themselves among the great 
ones of the earth, by industry, integrity and in- 
dependence, and how the rich may keep above 
their riches, by clinging to the treasure of their 
souls. He had taught how the simple dignity 
of manhood may rise superior to rank and sta- 
tion and that all the grandeur of power lies only 
in its uses. He had ennobled wealth by his 
touch, as knights give knighthood, and estab- 
lished as the canon of its primogeniture that 
humanity is its first-born. It was only left for 
him to show to his own brethren, that men may 
love their country without intolerance, may fight 
her battles without hate, and be conquerors 
without revenge. 

The blessing of the peace-makers be upon him 
and his memorv ! 



JOHN MURPnr, PRINTER, BALTIMORE. 



L^°yfHEfifv REGiC 




iM