REMARKS OF ROB'T E. C. STEARNS,
AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE
ON THE DEATH OF
BENJAMIN PARKE AVERY
California ;|tattemtj of
EEGULAR MEETING, DECEMBER 6th, 1875.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE ACADEMY :
Since our last meeting the telegraph has brought us sad
news information of the death of our fellow-memfcer, the
Hon. Benjamin Parke Avery, United States Minister to
China, who died in the early part of November at the city
The many excellences of the deceased, the co-operative
spirit which he ever manifested in all matters pertaining
to the welfare of his fellow-men quietly, because he was
singularly modest and undemonstrative, yet nevertheless
persistingly pursuing the even tenor of what he considered
his duty and that duty the advancement of civilization in
a new State, the promotion of knowledge, whether in Lit-
erature, Science, or Art, and the general refinement and
elevation of the Commonwealth in which he had made his
home; such qualities and such services make it eminently
proper, that we should inscribe on the permanent records
of the Academy, an appreciative recognition of his life and
labors, as well as an appropriate expression of our esteem,
and of our sorrow for his loss.
With the example of his unassuming but honorable ca-
reer before us, too brief but yet well filled with useful
work, it would be in discord with its harmony, to expand
these remarks into formal eulogy.
In a letter dated July 5th of this year, the last which I
received, he wrote :
*' Shut within the walls of our Legation, we are as much alone as if we
were in one of the old glacial wombs of the Sierra Nevada to think of
which makes me sigh with longing, for was I not born anew therefrom, a
recuperated child of Nature? Your letter with bay-leaves was right wel-
come, and gave me a good sniff of Berkeley. It was pleasant to receive
the University bay, although I am not an Alumnus, and can boast no
Alma-Mater except the rough school of self-education."
The closing line above his autograph is "O, California,
that's the land for me !" Enclosed with, his letter, were a
few plants collected by him upon the broad summit of the
mouldering walls which surround the ancient city where he
died. Our friend has gone he has found the tranquillity
of the grave in a country remote from his native land
from the California he loved so much ; far from those he
loved and the many who knew "and loved him, and who
would have deemed it a privilege to have been near him at
the final moment, and to have mingled their last farewells
with his,. The particulars of the closing scene have not
yet been received. We may be sure, however, that he
looked into the future without fear, and faded serenely, as
the twilight sinks into night.
Those who knew him best, and who enjoyed the precious
freedom of intimacy will tell you, that his life was conspic-
uous for its purity his character for its many virtues his
intellect for its refined and delicate culture his heart for
its tender and generous sympathy. The possession of
these qualities endear a nlan to his fellow men; they con-
stitute a charming whole, whose priceless web is woven
from the choicest graces of our poor humanity they form
an enchanted mantle whose shining folds hide the poverty
of human limitations.
So lived and walked our friend among us, crowned with
the affection and respect of all who knew him. I do not
say that he was perfect, and yet if fault he had I know it
not, nor never heard it named.
Here let us rest grateful that so true a life has been a
part of ours. We place our tribute on his grave, and say
good friend farewell!
Resolved, That, the California Academy of Sciences has learned with pro-
found regret of the death of the Honorable Benjamin Parke Avery, n fel-
low member and late United States Minister at the Court of Peking ; that
we hereby recognize and express our high appreciation of his many private
virtues and public services.
Resolved, That these resolutions be spread on the records of the Academy
and published in the proceedings.