Skip to main content

Full text of "A memorial to Patrick A. Collins ; history of its inception, establishment and dedication .."

See other formats




<J> * » « o V 

«** *\ •-* 

o. * • .-> ' ' A 


j$> *1*^L'* > V 




\ v 

0° .^> °o 

^ . ° . » - ,G V \3 ""'T^ « * A 







This little volume is published by the Collins Memorial 


Geo. H. Ellis Co., 272 Congress Street 



c/V v 

Qtye fMmnriaL 

The popular impulse to perpetuate the name 
and the public record of Mayor Patrick A. 
Collins by some form of memorial grew strong 
and pressing soon after his death in September, 
1905. Just a week after his interment in 
Holyhood Cemetery, a meeting of representa- 
tive men of Boston was held, at 53 State Street, 
to consider ways and means to meet the demand 
of the people for recognition of his high char- 
acter and of his distinguished services to the 
Nation, the State, and the City. The chair 
was occupied by the Hon. Richard Olney, 
and there were present prominent clergymen 
of various religious beliefs, bankers, merchants, 
lawyers, doctors, and personal friends. 

Brief addresses were made by the distin- 
guished chairman and by many prominent 
members of the representative assemblage, and 
all the speakers favored the establishment of 
some form of memorial to be designed in a 
manner suitable to the wishes of the people 
and acceptable to the artistic sense of the com- 

An Executive Committee was chosen to give 
effect to the desires of the people as they found 
expression in the press and in the addresses 
of the gentlemen who had responded to the call. 
This committee was empowered by vote to 
raise the funds needed, to determine the form 
which the Memorial should take, and to proceed, 
without further instructions, to do all that the 
meeting had outlined. 

At the head of this body Mr. Jerome Jones 
was placed. Mr. James J. Storrow was chosen 

Treasurer, and Mr. M. P. Curran was made 
Secretary. With these were associated, by unani- 
mous vote of the meeting, Dr. John G. Blake, 
Robert M. Burnett, Right Rev. William Byrne, 
D.D., the Hon. Edwin Upton Curtis, the Hon. 
Thomas J. Gargan, Lieutenant-Governor Curtis 
Guild, Jr., Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, Right Rev. 
William Lawrence, D.D., James M. Prendergast, 
A. Shuman, General Charles H. Taylor, and 
Lucius Tuttle. 

This Committee entered upon the arduous 
and delicate task imposed upon it with earnest- 
ness and zeal. It issued an appeal to the public 
for subscriptions. The answer to this was so 
prompt and generous that within two days 
there was substantial evidence that the work 
of the Committee would have the support of 
the community. The appeal was issued on 
September 27, 1905, and on September 29 the 
Treasurer acknowledged through the press the 
receipt of $11,290. On October 16, or in six- 
teen working days, there was received $25,- 
674.25, or more money than the Committee 
asked for. 

No collectors or solicitors were employed. 
Every dollar received by the Treasurer was 
sent in or brought in; and there were over 600 
contributors, the sums ranging from $500 to 
ten cents. It may be said that the record in 
this case is probably without parallel. The 
Committee closed the subscription lists on 
October 29, and the Treasurer had then in his 
possession the sum of $26,444.12. 

The Committee decided early in its delibera- 
tions that the Memorial should be an addition 
to the artistic treasures of the city, and that it 

should assume the form of a gateway to one of 
the public parks or of a statue in one of the 
squares. It was decided also that, if possible, 
a Boston artist should design and execute the 
work. With this object in mind the Committee 
issued an invitation to Boston sculptors, archi- 
tects, and persons of artistic taste to submit 
suggestions, designs, models, or advice which 
might aid the Committee in its purpose to get 
the best and most meritorious plan for the 

It soon came to be known that four eminent 
sculptors of Boston had begun to work on the 
plans and designs, and that all of them had 
adopted the scheme of a statue as the most 
fitting. The Boston Society of Architects cheer- 
fully responded to the request of the Committee 
for advice and counsel. Messrs. J. Randolph 
Coolidge, Jr., R. S. Peabody, and C. H. Black- 
all, acting as a committee of that body, rendered 
voluntary and valuable assistance in the selec- 
tion of the best design and the most desirable 
location for the monument. 

On February 1, 1907, a contract was signed 
by the chairman of the Committee, and H. H. 
Kitson and Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson for these 
purposes: "The sculptors agree to design, 
execute, furnish, and erect for the Committee 
a suitable granite and bronze memorial to the 
late Patrick A. Collins, Mayor of Boston, sub- 
stantially in accordance with the model and 
plans approved by the Committee on October 
4, 1905, subject to the approval of said Com- 
mittee and the Art Commission of the Citv of 
Boston." J 

On November 2, 1908, this Memorial was 

unveiled, dedicated, and presented to the City 
of Boston. An account of the ceremonies and 
proceedings incident to the closing of the Com- 
mittee's work of a little over three years will 
be found in succeeding pages. 

On a platform in front of the veiled monument 
sat Mayor George A. Hibbard, Archbishop 
William H, O'Connell, and the memorial com- 
mittee. At 11 o'clock a.m. Mr. Jerome Jones, 
chairman of that committee, introduced His 
Grace, the Archbishop, to open the proceedings 
with prayer. The assembled guests who occu- 
pied the seats on the observation stand then heard 
him deliver impressively the Lord's prayer: — 

Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed 
be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will 
be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give 
us this day our daily bread; and forgive 
us our trespasses, as we forgive those who 
trespass against us. And lead us not into 
temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen. 


Mr. Jerome Jones for the committee said: — 
We have assembled here to-day to dedicate 
a memorial to a distinguished citizen of Boston. 
Little more than three years ago we were 
startled by the intelligence that Patrick A. 
Collins, Mayor of Boston, had passed away. 
The impulse was spontaneous and wide-spread 
that something more than the usual marks of 
sorrow should bear witness to our affection for 
him. At a meeting of those who had known 
him best a committee was appointed to con- 
sider what form a memorial should take, and 
to provide means for its erection. In less than 
one month the voluntary offerings of more than 
five hundred of his friends had amounted to 
nearly thirty thousand dollars. 

The career of the subject of this outburst 
of popular affection had appealed in no ordi- 
nary degree to the interest of his fellow-citizens. 
A poor immigrant boy, working at manual 
labor, by dint of industry, faithfulness, alert- 
ness, and square dealing, had risen to a high 
place in his profession, and had won conspicu- 
ous honors in the service of the public. These 
are too well known to need recital here. They 
have become a part of the cherished history 
of this community. 

His likeness in enduring bronze, soon to be 
unveiled to your view, with the monument of 
which it is a part, would fail of its real purpose, 
were it merely to mark our grief at a personal 
loss or even to express our sense of Boston's 
obligation to a distinguished public servant. 


This memorial should carry a nobler message 
than this. It should speak to the generations 
of Boston of the future, children as they will 
be of every race and faith, but bound in many 
cases by the comradeship of poverty and of toil, 
telling them, as they rise in their long line, that 
here is a land of opportunity, where industry 
and faithfulness and honor may win their de- 
served rewards. This memorial will become 
in a larger sense a monument to American 
opportunity, to the chance that is here held out 
to those who apply themselves earnestly and 
manfully to life's work and life's duties. 

The subject of this memorial learned a trade. 
He made himself useful first. He then prepared 
himself by study and effort for usefulness in a 
wider field. Daniel Webster's allusion to the 
crowds at the bottom of the ladder and the 
plenty of room at the top has seldom been more 
strikingly exemplified than in the career of 
Patrick A. Collins. While doing his work 
faithfully at the crowded bottom, he made him- 
self ready to stand securely on the rungs which 
are higher up. 

My personal acquaintance with Mr. Collins 
covered nearly twoscore years. I enjoyed his 
companionship. His wit was a peculiar source 
of delight to all who came in contact with him: 
it softened the rough places of life, it ironed 
out the wrinkles of care. Intimacy with him 
recalled Emerson's lines: "A friend may be 
reckoned the masterpiece of nature." 

The committee are gratified by the presence 
here to-day of Mrs. Collins and members of her 
family. Mr. Paul Collins, the only son of the 
late Mayor, will now unveil the memorial. 


To the formal presentation the mayor replied : 
This memorial is intended to serve as a last- 
ing tribute to Patrick A. Collins, always regarded 
as an example of the highest type of our citi- 
zenship. A man of the strictest integrity, his 
public activities throughout his career were 
actuated by the highest ideals. Thoughtless of 
self, but ever mindful of the welfare of others, 
— his character at all times unsullied, — his capa- 
bilities and virtues were recognized and appre- 
ciated, not only by this country, but by the 
governments and people of other lands. 

I cannot express in any more forcible or 
direct manner my appreciation of his high 
and conspicuous Americanism or his lofty pa- 
triotism than by quoting this excerpt from one 
of his notable addresses: "I kneel at the altar 
of my fathers, and I love the land of my birth, 
but in American politics I know neither color, 
race, nor creed. Let me say here and now that 
there are no Irish voters among us. There are 
Irish-born citizens, like myself, and there will 
be many more of us, but the moment the seal 
of the court was impressed upon our papers 
we ceased to be foreigners and became Ameri- 
cans. Americans we are, Americans we will 
remain, and your children, native-born men, 
and mine, I trust, will live together in amity and 
peace in this great and free country as Ameri- 
cans. In this lies the safety of our institutions, 
in this is the guarantee of the Union." 


I am deeply gratified that, as mayor of the 
city of Boston, I have the opportunity to accept 
this tribute to his memory. The inscription 
upon it portrays the broadness and liberality 
of the man, and the municipality is grateful to 
the donors. It shall be the duty and the pleas- 
ure of the citizens to preserve the memorial 
in perpetuity. 

Owing to the inclemency of the weather, the 
committee decided to hold the further exercises 
incident to the dedication in the ball-room of the 
Hotel Somerset, and thither the guests went, 
on invitation. On a raised platform were 
seated the living former mayors of the city and 
all persons having part in the exercises. When 
all were seated, Chairman Jones introduced the 
Hon, John D. Long, who delivered the formal 



■ • '■ mil i« - *mm 


It is not the discharge of a perfunctory duty, 
but a labor of love, to take my part in this tribute 
to Patrick Andrew Collins. With you who 
knew him well, and to whom he is still a warm, 
living personality, I delight to join in putting 
in permanent place in the heart of the city 
which honored |him and which he honored this 
lifelike counterfeit of his face. With you I 
vividly recall his generous eloquence, his spark- 
ling and kindly wit, his magnanimous spirit, his 
embodied integrity of mind and heart. 

Some one of our talented representatives of 
his fellow Irish blood would more eloquently 
portray his life and character, as Mr. Curran 
has so admirably written his biography. But 
I am here because to those in charge it has 
seemed fitting that the word of this occasion 
should be spoken by one of that stock which is 
indebted to him for so handsomely promoting 
in our social and political life the assimilation 
with that stock of his own. Erin and Columbia 
join in this tribute as in yonder statuary group 
they support him, one on either side. 

That word, heartfelt, if meagre, I speak 
as his friend countryman and lover. And 
I speak it for the Puritan and Pilgrim as well 
as for his own and every other nationality whose 
blood has mingled with theirs and his. And 
I speak it to you who represent all these inter- 
woven fibres of our present cosmopolitan citizen- 

We are erecting a memorial not to a famous 
man of past time who has become a historic 


figure and only whose historic characteristics 
have filtered down to us, — a distillation of un- 
mixed virtues rather than a personality of flesh 
and blood, — but to one who was our recent 
contemporary and who, active in our chief 
municipal office, his voice ringing in the very 
front of the conflicts of the time, his counsel 
sought, his service invaluable, was cut off in 
his prime, the touch of his hand still lingering 
in ours. No need to draw, for your own con- 
sciousness at once paints upon your mind's 
eye, the picture of the man, the tall, easy- 
swinging figure, the attractive kindly intelligent 
mobile face, the responsive smile, the swift apt 
repartee, the cordial manner. 

It is this that gives a special charm to the 
tribute we now pay him. Our city is rich in its 
statues of its great ones. Among them are 
statesmen, soldiers, reformers, philanthropists, 
scholars, some of them undoubtedly superior 
to him in permanent fame, in conspicuousness 
of service, and in lasting influence. But at 
sight of which of them, as we gaze at the like- 
ness, so quickly springs from the heart the 
smile or tear of responsive comradeship ? 

It is a good feature in our modern life that the 
personal memorial is so frequent, — such as that 
most impressive and beautiful figure of the shel- 
tering angel of death, the handiwork of the 
foremost of American sculptors, at the grave of 
the wife of a private citizen; or the published 
volume of the life of the woman who, as head 
of a great female college, gave it larger distinc- 
tion and range, but who also gave to her home, 
from the heart of which the volume came, the 
benediction of paradise. It is a peculiar de- 


light of this occasion that we blend the personal 
and public recognition of one who adorned 
private and public life, and who at once won 
the confidence of the people he served and the 
love of the hosts of friends he made. 

It seems to me, contrary to the conventional 
notion, that the dominant chord in the life of 
Collins is that of good fortune, — fortunate in 
the stock from which he came, in the island of 
his birth, in the gifts of nature's bestowal, in 
his education, and in the circumstances which, 
under a seemingly frowning providence, hid 
the smiling faces of good angels who hovered 
about him and guided his footsteps. To be 
born an Irishman is to inherit the daring spirit 
inspired by centuries of resistance to political 
and religious oppression, by the heroisms of 
a subject but stubbornly resisting race, and 
by the traditions which associate every inch 
of native soil with legend and story of adventure 
and brave deeds. It is to inherit the contagious 
ardor that springs from the undaunted uprising 
out of the bitterness of defeat as well as out 
of the glory of victory, and from the song of the 
native poet, the eloquence of the orator, the 
intense passion of the patriot, and the height of 
religious and national enthusiasm. 

The sorrows of Ireland, the very essence of 
pathos, yet infused with the vivacity, the quick 
wit, the shrewdness, and cheery humor of the 
race, have made it to its children a land of inspi- 
ration and eager hope. Was there ever a more 
impassioned loyalty to mother land ? Its states- 
men, orators, soldiers, devotees, priests, poets, 
and writers, more often than otherwise serving 
and illumining other lands than their own, have 


enrolled their names on the upper scrolls of 
fame. Its natural beauties, from which so 
many a worthy son has been exiled, have never 
lost their hold on his memory or his dreams. 
Who does not know that exquisite description 
by Macaulay of picturesque Kerry, within fifty 
miles of which Collins was born, — "the most 
beautiful tract in the British Isles, — the moun- 
tains, the glens, the capes, stretching far into the 
Atlantic, the crags on which the eagles build, 
the rivers brawling down rocky passes, the 
lakes overhung by groves in wnich the wild 
deer find covert. On the rare days when the 
sun shines out in all his glory the landscape has 
a freshness and a warmth of coloring seldom 
found in our latitude. The myrtle loves the 
soil. The arbutus thrives better than even on 
the sunny shore of Calabria. The turf is of 
a livelier hue than elsewhere; the hills glow 
with a richer purple; the varnish of the holly 
and ivy is more glossy; and berries of a brighter 
red peep through foliage of a brighter green." 

To say, then, of Collins that he had the gifts 
of his race and of his native isle is to attribute 
to him some of the most charming and brilliant 
qualities of human nature. It is to associate 
him with the romantic legends of the days 
"when the O'Neils and O'Donnells were inde- 
pendent princes," with the exquisite sentiment 
and humor of Goldsmith, the luminous elo- 
quence of Burke, the splendid heroism of 
Sarsfield, the tuneful verse of Moore, the pathos 
of Emmet, the devotion of Father Mathew — 
but why count all the sparkling jewels of the 
diadem! Other lands have as great treasures 
of glorious names and memories; but with 


Ireland, perhaps owing to the very sorrows 
and afflictions which for so many years either 
drove her sons into exile or repressed them at 
home, her inspirations have seemed to intensify 
themselves into the spirit and culture of her 
children as have those of no other land. How 

many examples of this come to our minds! 

none more striking than Collins whom we honor 
to-day. And let me not forget his especially 
chosen and close confreres whose symposiums 
with him are already among our local traditions, 
O'Reilly and Roche and Gargan, the turf above 
two of whom has for many months been green 
and above the other has just been watered 
with our tears. 

Of such stuff as this surely must have been 
the angels that ministered at the birth of Collins; 
and fitting it was that in his humble native 
Irish cot in Ballanafauna, ere yet his lips could 
lisp in numbers, the great orator Daniel O'Con- 
nell laid the benediction of his hand upon the 
boy's head, predicting his rise to fame and 
dedicating his life to public service. May not 
at the same time the electric spark of that 
eloquent tongue have flashed into the boy's 
soul and charged it full ! 

In 1848, at four years of age, Collins was an 
immigrant to this country from Ireland. His 
father, an Irish tenant farmer under the depres- 
sion of the Irish landlord system, had died the 
year before and left his family in poverty. It 
was the year of the famine which, robbing the 
Irishman of his potato, robbed him of all he had 
of his own in this world's goods. The father 
was a man of strong natural parts, with a schol- 
arly bent that found expression in fugitive 


verse. He was of that class of men of more than 
ordinary natural abilities, industry, thrift, and 
force, an exodus of whom the famine of that 
year sent to our shores. In their earnestness, 
their loyalty to their religious faith, their en- 
durance and toil, their neighborly allegiance 
to one another, they were not unlike our Puritan 
ancestors, whose immigration two centuries 
earlier was also prompted by discontent with 
conditions in the mother land. Their strongly 
marked Celtic faces, many of which I recall 
and have known as types which the sculptor 
would choose, indicated their natural strength 
of character, needing only education and oppor- 
tunity. Deprived at home of ownership in the 
soil, they here seemed to seek, first of all, each 
his own house and lot of land. They worked 
hard wherever work was to be had, but the 
benefit of their labor was now their own. With 
careful economy and great thrift they added 
slowly but surely to the acquisition of property 
which was at last theirs in their own right. 
They were proudly self-supporting, and the 
beggar or the pauper was not among them. 
So they became an added rock for the security 
of property, not to be carried away by any craze 
for the disorganization of society or led astray 
by the frenzies of the fanatic or irresponsible 

The young Irish-American of this generation, 
full-fledged for all the flights of American politics, 
profession, and business, will do well if he main- 
tains the standard of the honest thrift and faith- 
ful service of the immigrants of 1847. Above 
all their domestic and family relations are worthy 
of all praise. These were strengthened by 


their religious obligations and their unswerving 
allegiance to their Church. Few men have less 
sympathy than I have with the claims of 
ecclesiastical infallibility and domination. I 
have the Puritan's disrelish for religious forms 
and ceremonies and the radical's instinctive 
refusal of the miraculous and supernatural. 
But I acknowledge with grateful and swift 
appreciation the tremendous influence of the 
Catholic Church for good in our social life. How 
it ignores all distinctions among its worshippers 
and puts them all on the level of a common 
equality before the altar of their faith! What 
was a king's crown to Becket? How it holds 
its people in loyalty to its standards! Nothing 
is more striking than its fruit in the purity and 
devotion of the family circle. For generations 
the Catholic woman and wife in our country 
has been an example of fidelity, whether in the 
service of others or in the thrifty and indus- 
trious administration of her own household. 
Her daughters in turn she has trained in good 
morals and useful labor. Indeed, she deserves 
the crown of womanly purity and service. 

Such were the men and women from whom 
Collins came. Of that stamp was his widowed 
mother, who, a pilgrim on " the bleak New Eng- 
land shore," sought for her little ones the bless- 
ings of a land of freedom, and for their sake 
dared and bore all the privations and hard- 
ships of her scanty lot. Hers were the true 
mother's sacrifice and lifelong devotion. And 
did she not have her proud reward ? And 
his were the true son's love and appreciation to 
the last. 

If I have dwelt at length on these things, 


Collins would have had me do so rather than 
solely on him. Then, too, no man is of himself 
alone. Like an individual piece in the cut-up 
picture puzzles of the day, he counts only by 
virtue of his surroundings. He is moulded into 
shape by antecedent influence and the environ- 
ment of other lives. 

At once upon his arrival here began the iden- 
tification of Collins with our institutional life, 
his entrance into every avenue of our free op- 
portunities and his training as an American 
citizen. Settled in Chelsea, he went to the 
public schools. There the very roughing of his 
Yankee schoolmates, who persecuted him with 
the heartlessness of children and the racial and 
religious prejudices of that time, — happily not 
of this, — only developed the self-sustaining qual- 
ities of the boy and, to his honor be it said, left 
no sting to fester in his heart. Eager to be 
of helpful service toward the family support, 
he was at work in a fish and oyster shop at 
eleven. Faithful to his church duties, he was 
an altar-boy and taught in Sunday-school. He 
next soared to the giddy height of office and 
errand boy in the law office in Boston of Robert 
Morris, the colored lawyer, whose home was in 
Chelsea and who had probably been attracted 
by that bright, eager, intelligent young face. 
He now caught the contagious atmosphere of 
the courts as he saw the lawyers sitting within 
the sacred bar, over the rail of which one can 
fancy him gazing, listening to its wordy contests, 
and no doubt dreaming, half hopelessly, of shar- 
ing some day in its opportunities. 

At thirteen his mother went to Ohio, where 
for two years he was at hard manual labor, 


working in fields and coal mines, driving a 
market wagon and running an engine and other 
machinery. Fancy what spirit meantime burned 
within the boy's heart, what dreams were there! 
At the end of the two years, in 1859, the family 
came back to Boston. And, now a full adult, 
he found more permanent employment as an 
apprentice in a leading upholstery shop, of 
which four years later, at nineteen, he became 
foreman. He lived in South Boston, walking 
to and fro. He was a charter member of the 
upholsterers' union. Already his interests were 
expanding, putting out their roots and feelers 
into all that environed him. The opportunities 
of his scanty leisure, sometimes robbed from 
sleep, were neither wasted nor neglected. He 
attended evening schools or spent his evenings 
in the public library. His reading there was of a 
wide range, ancient and modern history, the 
standard novels, the best essayists and poets, — 
all the best of these. He read as wisely and 
as well as if directed by a college instructor, 
enriching his mind with literary treasures from 
which in after-life he eloquently drew, and which, 
gathered in his ampler days into a generous li- 
brary of his own, were his oft-sought and un- 
failing refreshment and delight. 

Meanwhile he was, of course, full of ardor 
in the cause, which was then of acute interest, 
of his native land. He was in intense sym- 
pathy with its advocates in America and Ireland. 
He joined its organizations, but his good sense 
led him to insist on keeping the Irish issue out 
of American politics. He made public addresses 
and wrote articles for publication, and was fast 
establishing a local reputation for clear, cogent 


reasoning and expression and for a style direct, 
eloquent, and as free from grandiloquence or 
floridity as if, again, he had been under college 
instruction. Already it was evident that his 
true vocation was in the line of a profession 
opening into the channels of public service. 
At twenty-three he was an educated man. 
The mechanic's toil, the evening school, the 
curriculum of the public library, the immediate 
close touch with the people, and their quick 
responsive recognition of this bright, eager 
spirit who was of them and who snared their 
sympathies, — all these assured his rise as no 
college degree could have done. Education 
is the same, whatever the channel through which 
it comes; and it came to him free and full 
through the institutions and the atmosphere 
of the city which he lived to repay and to honor. 
Landing on our shores a child, all the best op- 
portunities of American life had opened at once 
wide before him; and he seized them. What 
a lesson to all young men in humble circum- 
stances! What seems so exceptional in the 
pathway of his career is really only the ordinary 
and natural pathway that is open to any who 
will walk in it, — not always to the same goal, 
but always to equal rewards of self-respect 
and faithful service. The exceptional thing 
in him is that he was wise enough to choose the 
right path. I am right in saying that his was 
from the first a fortunate career, but it was so 
because, like Lincoln, he improved the means 
to make it so. 

He now in 1867, at twenty-three, began the 
study of the law and at the same time began 
his public political career. What more natural 


than that this gifted young man, attending a 
caucus of the Democratic party, better educated 
than most men, his self-earned culture already 
recognized among his associates, should be asked 
to address the meeting ! What more natural than 
that, under the impression made by him, he should 
on the spot be chosen a delegate to the State 
Convention of the party and a few months later 
elected a representative to the General Court! 
In that capacity he served two years, and then 
served the next two years in the Senate, "the 
youngest man," says Mr. Curran, "that ever 
donned the senatorial toga in Massachusetts." 
Point me in all the annals of the Common- 
wealth to a more fortunate start for a young 
man in public life. To what college graduate 
has come so speedy an opening? 

Of course, his foot was now on the ladder, 
not by any means on the lowest round, and his 
rise was assured. His legislative record had 
been one of liberal and efficient service, espe- 
cially in the removal of sectarian limitations 
upon civil rights and in the development of 
the commercial interests of the harbor of Boston. 
And his reputation as a clear, eloquent, forci- 
ble speaker was established. 

At the end of his senatorial term in 1871, 
at twenty-seven years of age, he opened his law 
office. His capital in his new vocation was no 
heritage of wealth, no potent array of corporate 
or social influences, — as indeed these have rarely 
been the capital of the successful lawyer, — 
but an alert, cultured mind, an unblemished 
reputation for personal worth, the prestige of 
honorable political service, the confidence of 
the plain people who knew him, the courage of his 


convictions, and, above all, a consciousness of 
that combination of talent with common sense 
and honesty which is the best working genius. 

Practice soon came, and from small begin- 
nings rose to large and remunerative returns. 
Had he devoted himself to it exclusively, and not 
been drawn from it by the demands of a more 
public career, he would have had not only the 
living lawyer's eminence, but also, alas! the 
dead lawyer's oblivion. The law is a jealous 
mistress, and his political service compelled 
him to be away long and often from her side. 
In view of this it is the more striking that he 
should have attained and held a place at the 
bar among those of the legal profession whose 
names are quickest recognized when the roll 
of honor is called. 

Not often at a meeting of the bar in com- 
memoration of its dead members have more 
earnest and appreciative tributes been heard 
than at that for him. He practised in all our 
courts. He was especially apt and strong 
before juries. He was always in demand at 
hearings before legislative committees. And 
need I say that he was beloved by his fellow- 
lawyers ? They cannot speak of him without 
recalling his winning and lovable personality. 

But his chief fame is in his more public 
career. Almost continually an executive officer 
and leader in the councils and organizations 
of the Democratic party, member of each branch 
of the General Court of Massachusetts, member 
of Congress, president of the Democratic Na- 
tional Convention at St. Louis in 1888, consul- 
general to London, mayor of Boston at which 
post he died, and a familiar figure on the plat- 


form in political campaigns and at banquets, 
public meetings, and receptions to distinguished 
guests and indeed on all civic and institutional 
occasions, he became the most prominent man 
of his race in New England, if not indeed in 
the United States. Before he was thirty, he was 
chairman of the Democratic City Committee of 
Boston. He was an efficient speaker on the 
stump in 1874 in the election of Governor 
Gaston, who put him on the gubernatorial mili- 
tary staff as Judge Advocate General with the 
title of General. It was a title, however, which, 
with no taste for sounding military titles in 
piping times of peace, he never relished. In 
the presidential campaign of 1876 he was an 
earnest advocate of Tilden, not only at home, 
but in the Middle and Western States, winning 
increased reputation for convincing eloquence. 

The defeat of his candidate gave him a respite 
from political service, which he improved by 
a visit to Ireland, whose cause was always dear 
to him. Parnell, then its leader, had recently 
been in America, where the famous Land League 
had been formed and Collins made its first 
president. For months, speaking in all our 
large cities, he had devoted himself to its ad- 
vancement and to the work of raising hundreds 
of thousands of dollars to be sent to Ireland. As 
might have been expected, therefore, on his ar- 
rival there, his welcome was heartily enthusi- 
astic, distinguished by the gift of the freedom 
of the city of Dublin and a municipal banquet. 
But his devotion to that cause never blinded 
him to fair play. When Cavendish and Burke 
were foully assassinated in the public park in 
Dublin, Collins, then in Boston, presided at a 


meeting in Faneuil Hall, and denounced in no 
uncertain terms "the miscreants," as he called 
them, who had brought discredit on the cause 
he held dear. 

He was a member of Congress from the 
Boston district for three terms, from 1883 to 1889. 
His election, like all his elections to public 
office before and afterwards, came to him, not at 
his own solicitation or seeking, but at the 
demand of party constituencies, which, because 
of their recognition of his merit, fitness, and 
ability, solicited and sought him as their best 
and strongest man. There could perhaps be 
no better test than this of his superiority and 
of the qualities which to-day make us single 
him out for an honor which is paid only to 
the greater lights. I have an impression that 
he was ambitious for the culture of a full 
life rather than for place; that the former 
he sought through books, companionships, or- 
atory; that the latter came to nim without his 
seeking, and that its exactions and routine, 
while faithfully met, were not altogether to 
his taste. 

While in Congress, he served on the Judi- 
ciary Committee, its legal atmosphere being 
especially agreeable to him. He was largely 
interested in all questions that affected the com- 
mercial interests of Boston. He was charged 
with the passage through the House of the 
bankruptcy bill, which he was one of the fore- 
most in preparing. He spoke rarely on the 
floor, but always with effect. He took no part 
in the running of partisan parliamentary ma- 
chinery. He was, as with his genial and com- 
panionable habit he could not help being, 


popular with both sides, and was held in high 
esteem. It was during this service that he so 
emphatically rebuked the overzealous or under- 
honest representative of certain interests who 
offered him a large sum of money because, 
unconscious of them and actuated only by his 
own convictions, he had effectively advocated 
some bill by which they benefited. He could 
not be paid more than he could be purchased 
in the line of his duty. Creditable as was his 
Congressional career, it had little charm for 
him. He declined a fourth election, and moved 
out of his constituent district to avoid it. 

And yet, though returning to legal practice 
from which came his support, he could not 
help being for the remainder of his life a public 
man. The demand upon him was irresistible. 
He continued to be, as he had been, in the van 
of his party year after year. In the presidential 
campaign of 1884 there was no more effective 
speaker on the Democratic stump than he. 
Mr. Blaine's hold on what was called the Irish 
vote was strong. Some influential leaders and 
newspapers of that complexion were earnestly 
for him. It is not too much to say that Collins 
by a masterly and most effective speech at 
Albany, directed to that element, turned the 
tide, and turned it so far that the election of his 
candidate, Mr. Cleveland, was thereby as- 
sured. If any one man elected Cleveland, it 
was Collins. From that time on he was in 
demand in all the doubtful States. 

If he was not given a seat in Cleveland's 
cabinet as the representative of New England, 
it was not because he had not earned that dis- 
tinction, but probably because of some political 


exigency in the political situation; for Presi- 
dent Cleveland fully appreciated his deserts 
and capabilities, and the relations between 
them were always those of cordial mutual 
esteem and regard. In evidence of this Cleve- 
land, after his second election in 1892, gave 
one of the most lucrative and sought-for posi- 
tions in his gift to Collins, appointing him consul- 
general at London. Something of poetic in- 
terest attaches itself to the thought of this poor 
peasant boy, driven from his native isle by gov- 
ernmental oppression, now in his prime return- 
ing to it a distinguished citizen of the United 
States and its honored consular representative 
at the great capital of the British Empire under 
whose allegiance he was born. It is to the 
honor of that empire that its government gave 
him cordial reception, with no reservation be- 
cause of his lifelong and conspicuous associa- 
tion with the elements that had so persistently 
sought from England more generous recogni- 
tion of Irish rights. For four years he was at 
this post, the recipient of manifold courtesies 
and commanding in the discharge of his duties 
the approval of his countrymen at home and 
abroad and of the authorities to whom he was 

It was a natural sequence that, after his return, 
he shoidd be the choice of his party for Mayor 
of Boston. Defeated in 1899, he was elected 
to that biennial office in 1901 and again in 
1903, holding it at the time of his death. He 
entered upon its duties with high purpose, with 
an earnest zeal for the honor and credit of the 
city, and with an especial ambition to save it 
from those inroads of extravagance and plunder, 


those raids upon the public treasury, and those 
attempts to secure selfish privilege and franchise, 
which are the bane of American municipalities 
and the cure of which is the crying problem of 
the day. Reform in these lines is slow and hard, 
but in his honesty and integrity there was every- 
where confidence, and these were the bulwarks he 
opposed to every flagrant or insidious foe to the 
good name or material interest of the city. 

But they were not a bulwark against the 
inroads of a life of incessant wear and tear in 

gublic service upon his physical constitution, 
[e had sought a brief period of recuperation at 
Hot Springs, Virginia. There suddenly the 
angel of death stood at his side bringing rest, 
and he died September 14, 1905. The sorrow 
was universal. A hundred thousand people 
thronged the streets of Boston at his funeral. 
From all parts of the country and from the 
island of his birth came messages of apprecia- 
tion. The press, without distinction of party, 
paid him warm tributes. The Suffolk bar met 
in his honor. Boston had a memorial service. 
A fund, contributed by hundreds of citizens, 
representing all parties, races, professions, and 
business interests, was raised to erect this per- 
manent memorial which we unveil to-day. 

I have detailed, in brief and lacking outline, 
the record of his public service. But that record, 
even were it complete, would be only a skeleton, 
— the dry bones. It is the heart within, it is 
the man himself, the warm blood coursing in his 
veins, wit sparkling in his eye, his lips speaking, 
— it is these that I would recall now as when I 
began. What a copious nature it was! He 
was a magnanimous man. Malice was not in 


him. He fought hard, but he fought fair. He 
did not strike below the belt. We who differed 
from him knew him for a dangerous but always 
an honorable foe. His mind was large and 
liberal. His outlook was broad and generous. 
Devoted to the religious faith of his fathers, 
fervently devoted to the cause of Erin, he was 
outspoken in his demand that neither should 
stand in the way of the political duties and obli- 
gations of American citizenship. 

A son of toil, his youth spent in manual work, 
early a charter member of a labor organization, 
he yet recognized the rights of both capital and 
labor. In the conflicts between them which 
seem to grow more acute the more prosperous 
each becomes, how invaluable would be now 
and in the near years to come his counsel and 
his influence! As a leader in one of our great 
political parties, how invaluable in keeping its 
rudder true! As a citizen, how invaluable in 
the tremendous problem of preserving the bal- 
ance between progress and conservatism! With 
the immense inflow of elements from abroad 
which have not been trained in our conventional 
and old-time political and social system, we 
look to his race, with its instinctive drift into 
politics, its loyalty to ecclesiastical authority, 
its thrift and material holdings, and its conse- 
quent direct interest in the security and stability 
of property and social order, as now, and here- 
after to be still more, one of our great conserva- 
tive forces. Would he were still living to em- 
body and enforce its influence! 

As head of a family, loyal son, devoted hus- 
band and father, where is there a sweeter pict- 
ure or a better example of domestic life ? What 


wonder that whether in Washington or London, 
his heart turned to the Massachusetts fireside, 
and that no official honor, no triumph of the 
forum, no plaudit of delighted audiences, sup- 
planted the charm of home, the voices of wife and 
children, the serene companionship of his books ! 

It was indeed a copious, a sweet, genial nature. 
The sunshine ran through it. Some of his bright 
sayings are as familiar among us as household 
words. Rising sometimes to the height of the 
orator, always through his speech played the 
lambent glow of kindly humor. It was a pleas- 
ure to meet him, to clasp hands with him, to 
exchange with him the passing word. And, 
after all, in this brotherly intercourse of ours, 
well as we think we know one another, how 
much more than these fleeting intercommunica- 
tions do we get ? 

But this was not all. Underneath were the 
structural honesty and integrity of the man. 
He was worthy of the trusts reposed in him. 
No evil was in his thought. He was an honor 
to his native Ireland, the welfare of which was 
close to his heart. He was a loyal citizen and 
servant of our Commonwealth which he made 
his home, and of the nation which he made his 
own. He is an example to every aspiring young 
man, whatever his race or circumstances, of 
the value and fruit of an honest and true and 
therefore of a happy life. 

"Far may we search before we find 
A heart so manly and so kind." 

Green as the Emerald Isle forever be the turf 
of Massachusetts above him! 

d 73 78 5441 





o V 

^ ■;£ 

^ ^ 
v^ v 

r -t-0 i 




<?- 4 a V *< ' .6* V *'-V A* 

a v 

F .t.o. " 

* «cOv sr A «, ^* ^ v " $ * "^o v*"