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Full text of "Remarks of Robt. E.C. Stearns and resolutions of the California Academy of Sciences on the death of Benjamin Parke Avery [at its regular meeting Dec. 6, 1875]"

REMARKS OF ROB'T E. C. STEARNS, 



AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE 



at 



ON THE DEATH OF 



BENJAMIN PARKE AVERY 



' 
{ Library. 

^S^ r 

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 
of Peking. 

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.