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Full text of "Tributes to Theodore Parker, comprising the exercises at the Music hall, on Sunday, June l7, l860, with the Proceedings of the New England anti-slavery convention, at the Melodeon, May 31, and the resolutions of the Fraternity and the Twenty-eighth Congregational society."

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ON SUNDAY, JUNK 17, 1«60 



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B Y T II E F R A T E K X I T Y . 


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ON SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 1860, 








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Allen and Farnham, Printers. 





Exercises in commemoration of the death of the late 
Reverend Theodore Parker, were held by the Twenty- 
Eighth Congregational Society, in the Music Hall, on Sun- 
day, June 17th. The capacious hall was crowded to reple- 
tion in every part, and many remained standing through the 
entire services, which lasted upwards of two hours. 

Among the most strongly marked characteristics of Mr. 
Parker was a love of flowers. This extended almost to a 
passion. It was therefore in the highest degree proper, and 
also beautifully suggestive, that on this occasion there 
should be a floral tribute. Accordingly the altar at which 
he was wont to preach was literally covered with flowers, 
tastefully and elegantly arranged — the spontaneous gift of 
many friends of Mr. Parker. In front of the altar was sus- 
pended a cross composed of white roses and evergreen. 
On each side were numerous wreaths of variegated flowers, 
the rarest and most beautiful of the season ; and upon the 
top at each wing were bouquets large in size, placed in 
vases. Close beside the Bible, was the favorite of Mr. 
Parker, the Lily of the Valley. 


The exercises were commenced with a Voluntary upon 
the organ, which was succeeded by the following Chant by 
the choir : 


O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou 
knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising, thou under- 
standest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path 
and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 
For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou 
knowest it altogether. Whither shall I go from thy spirit, 
or whither shall I flee from thy presence ? If I ascend up 
into heaven, thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, be- 
hold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, 
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ; even there shall 
thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me. If I 
say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night 
shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from 
thee, but the night shineth as the day : the darkness and the 
light are both alike to thee. How precious also are thy 
thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them. 
If I should count them they are more in number than the 
sand : when I awake, I am still with thee. Search me, O 
God, and know my heart : try me and know my thoughts : 
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in 
the way everlasting. 

A fervent and impressive prayer was then offered by 
Rev. John L. Russell of Salem. Mr. Russell dwelt upon 
the great loss which the Society and the world now expe- 
rienced in the death of Mr. Parker. He alluded touch- 
ingly to the sorrow of the surviving partner and family 
relatives, and lamented the incompletion of his great labors ; 
and concluded by imploring that the sad event might inspire 

all who grieved his departure, to an increased activity and 
zeal in those principles and works to the carrying out of 
which he had sacrificed his life. 

The choir then sung the following hymn, which, together 
with the other hymns, and the passages from the Scriptures, 
had been selected by Mr. Parker for this occasion, several 
months previous to his death. 

HYMN 95. 

While Thee I seek, protecting Power, 

Be my vain wishes stilled ! 
And may this consecrated hour 

With better hopes be filled. 

Thy love the powers of thought bestowed ; 

To Thee my thoughts would soar ; 
Thy mercy o'er my life has flowed ; 

That mercy I adore ! 

In each event of life how clear 

Thy ruling hand I see ! 
Each blessing to my soul more dear, 

Because conferred by Thee. 

In every joy that crowns my days, 

In every pain I bear, 
My heart shall find delight in praise, 

Or seek relief in prayer. 

When gladness wings my favored hour, 

Thy love my thoughts shall fill ; ' 
Resigned, when storms of sorrow lower, 

My soul shall meet thy will. 

My lifted eye, without a tear, 

The gathering storm shall see ; 
My steadfast heart shall know no fear ; 

That heart shall rest on Thee. 


Friends : I must speak ; but least of that of which my 
heart is full. I knew Mr. Parker well from the time of his 
going to West Roxbury. In his last letter to me, he writes, 
" There has never been a day since I left home that I have 
not often thought of your father and his dear ones. He is 
one of my oldest friends. His is the last house I was ever 
in at home except my own." Again that trembling hand 
wrote ; but the mortal eye of that friend, the first to wel- 
come him there and here, was not to read the written words. 
That friend had gone, I trust to welcome him again. Would 
that I could venture to try to pay tribute due to the friend- 
ship of so many years. But the day of his first illness, and 
that of his death, the very hymn he chose, which we have 
just sung, open such recent sorrows and quick associations, 
that I must turn away, with one glance, from old memories 
of his house at Spring street, over which the pines were 
always whispering ; his library there, where that great soul 
was trained, mastering tools wherewith to do the work of 
the world, and the fair garden on which it looked ; of his 
love for all without, within ; of the village church, with its 
silent finger and its little band ; the Sabbath school ; of 
Brook Farm, where we lived — its woods and fields, and 
stream of gold and gems, dearer and fairer in the pictures 
which the child, the boy, daguerreotypes, than the poet or 
romancer can make them; of the old home — of the strolls 
there ; of communion with minds of the past and the present 
there opened ; and altogether from later and fresher things, 
for they would lead to that of which I could not speak. 

I remember, even before that, how his stalwart frame 
swept along the avenues of Divinity Hall. I remember the 
manner of his early preaching. In that was shown what I 

always thought the chief element of his character and source 
of his power. He was often utterly overcome by emotion ; 
his utterance choked ; tears flowed ; his frame shook. It 
was beyond what was natural, even at that age. He has 
told us that " he preached only what he had himself expe- 
rienced." Gigantic as his developed intellect became — 
great as were the treasures of learning he diffused — his 
greatest power was the native impulse of his soul — his 
affectional nature. No mind, no learning could express it. 
Though to the world they seemed solid as the ground, they 
only floated on its bosom. 

Born on soil sacred to Freedom — of stock culled in Eng- 
land, and trained for two centuries in the best physical and 
moral culture of the world — himself reared in schools not 
the costliest, but the best — taught the love of labor, self- 
reliance, absolute reverence for God and conscience — he 
surprised the world by the intellect that embraced the will 
that moved it. But these only beat with the impulses of 
his mighty heart. I do not wish to vindicate all. But as 
the dust of earth shall fall, this element will justify much 
that is questioned now. He did not believe in calling black 
white. Let time and truth judge his sayings. What he 
spoke in love will live. Do you not remember how, in his 
discourse on Adams — when the building shook, and his 
voice was silenced as the ice and snow fell with the shock 
of an earthquake before the sun of Spring — he wished it 
so with the character he was discussing — with what joy he 
reviewed the glorious labors of the long Indian summer of 
that life, the rapture with which he hailed its closing act, 
summed up in that Saxon sentence, " the great loud No of 
an old man going home to his God ? " Is the wail of a true 
heart over powers perverted — the "woe" of him who 
speaks in the cause of Humanity and God, to those who 
smite what they might save — to be condemned ? 


The Resolve "that Theodore Parker should have a 
chance to be heard " was more than the word of a friend, 
or a protest for religious freedom, or a plan for a free 
church. Before the South Boston sermon, it was known 
who and what was coming in this young preacher, who had 
said : " God still lives — man has lost none of his high 
nature ; " and in his parable of Paul : " I shall walk by 
God's light, and fear not." It was thought that the new 
truth would be spread by his voice ; perhaps not dreamed 
that one man could spread it so widely. But that simple 
Resolve, the seed of this Society, was dropped in faith that 
that truth would prevail — the mover of it having a year or 
two before, in a little book now forgotten, shown how it was 
the "basis of all true art, criticism, society, morals, laws, 
and religion." But of this Society : 

First — We may be content to leave almost all, as to 
what he undid, that is matter of discussion at this day 
whilst partisans define their positions, priests their creeds, 
with a word which covers it all, vera pro gratis. If truth 
be started, let old errors go. 

Next, let us look to what he created and did. He ascended 
to the sublime heights of philosophy and religion ; by thought 
and study made clear to the intellect the truth that fired his 
soul, that " God is infinite Perfection, Power, Wisdom, Jus- 
tice, Love," and plainly showed it to the world. He saw 
and showed how, historically and by nature, man grows in 
the light of love and has his eyes opened to spiritual truth, 
as flowers beneath the sun. He took Truth from books and 
scholars, Religion from temples and the priests, and showed 
them to common men. 

His basis was Man's intuition of God and direct perception 
of His Laws. We see that the old theologies were most 
disturbed by his ideas ; as Slavery was, of all institutions, 
most shaken by his labors. Probably time will show that 

the most positive and complete of his intellectual works was 
his Spiritual Theology. 

Calmly, and at length, alas with labor too great for that 
failing frame, thinking death near, — as he said, "up to his 
shoulders in his grave," — he reviewed his work. He wished 
to live to round it off, hoping for the length of years and 
strength of his ancestors, but ready to pass the golden gates 
to immortal life. His work is fragmentary in relation to his 
idea, though so much is in itself complete. He tells us that 
after his discourse of Matters Pertaining to " Religion," he 
formed a plan and prepared for the afternoon and evening 
of his days, to show the " History of the Progressive Devel- 
opment of Religion among the leading Races of Mankind." 

What a few in the groves of the academies by the lamp 
of philosophy, in moments of vision had seen, had become 
so clear to him that he would not only make it plain and 
prove it to the reason of men, but would traverse the history 
of the world and show its growth ; show how, by either 
method, analysis or synthesis, this one truth was the cul- 
mination of human thought. Well may we leave theolo- 
gies, Christologies, creeds, statutes, societies, governments, to 
take care of themselves. 

Success ! For fifteen years a free church ; this truth 
embodied in labors for the dangerous, perishing, criminal 
classes ; for education, woman, temperance, freedom, peace - T 
its light thrown on the lives of our great men and heroes ; 
put in volumes that will live with the English tongue ; put 
into labors that now move and will move the American 
Church and State whilst they endure ; set forth in a system 
of religion ; a positive spiritual Theology ; a method of spir- 
itual culture ; shadowing a scheme of ethics ; containing 
almost the only fit attempt to state the law of Nature, the 
law of laws, in the language ; his thought, his labor, his life 
— these are success and triumph enough. 


After a life brief in years, but in labor how long, in stature 
how great, in purity how glorious on earth — his mortal robes 
lie under the skies of Italy. There let them repose, that 
pilgrims and patriots of the Old World and the New may go 
to a spot consecrated by blood that flowed thither from Eng- 
lish through American veins. 

He strove to gird them up for a few years' labor more in 
the service of God and man, but in vain. The soul that 
wore them was the world's. It speaks yet, and shall speak 
in pulpit and senate. Boston will thank him for the une- 
qualled munificence of his charity ; the Herculean labors of 
his ministry ; the unsullied purity of his life. May she 
grow to see and live by his truth ; last to have a just pride 
in being the home of this spiritual Columbus ; forget his 

Men may raise monuments of stone ; they will frame me- 
morials more during in adamantine speech. But he who stood 
here, above the world's fading honors, and his labors will out- 
last them all. 

Our best tribute, — in the presence of the living spirit, the 
fittest in his sight, and the most lasting, will be the quiet vow 
not to falter in his work, and, as we may, in church, or court, 
or state, or common life, to keep in sight the light he showed 
us and follow its heavenly guidance. 



He hath showed thee, O man, what is good, and what 
doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ? 


Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God 
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy 
mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the 
second is like unto it ; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy- 
self. On these two commandments hang all the law and the 

But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worship- 
pers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the 
Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and 
they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in 

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in 
tongue ; but in deed and in truth. For if our heart condemn 
us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things. 
Beloved, let us love one another ; for love is of God, and 
every one who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. 
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one 
another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to 
us. God is love, and he who dwelleth in love, dwelleth in 
God, and God in him. There is no fear in love, but perfect 
love casteth out all fear, because fear hath torment. He 
who feareth, is not made perfect in love. 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Yea, though 
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 
fear no evil : for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff 
they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow 
me all the days of my life ; and I will dwell in the house of 
the Lord forever. When my father and my mother forsake 
me, then the Lord will take me up. I had fainted, unless I 
had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of 
the living. 


Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, 
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom pre- 
pared for you from the foundation of the world ; For I was 
an hungered, and ye gave me meat ; I was thirsty, and ye 
gave me drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; Naked, 
and ye clothed me : I was sick, and ye visited me : I was in 
prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous 
answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, 
and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink ? When saw 
we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and clothed 
thee ? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came 
unto thee ? And the King shall answer and say unto them, 
Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto 
one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto 

Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom 
of heaven. 

Blessed are they who mourn ; for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek ; for they shall inherit the earth. 

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after right- 
eousness ; for they shall be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain -mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart ; for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peace-makers ; for they shall be called the 
children of God. 

. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' 
sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute 
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for 
my sake. 

Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward 
in heaven ; for so persecuted they the prophets which were 
before you. 


HYMN 239. 

Nearer, my God, to Thee r 

Nearer to Thee ! 
E'en though it be a cross 

That raiseth me ; 
Still all my song shall be, — 
Nearer, my God, to Thee, 

Nearer to Thee ! 

Though, like the wanderer, 

The sun gone down, 
Darkness be over me, 

My rest a stone; 
Yet in my dreams I'd be 
Nearer, my God, to Thee,— 

Nearer to Thee ! 

There let the way appear, 

Steps unto heaven, 
All that Thou sendest me, 

In mercy given ; 
Angels to beckon me 
Nearer, my God, to Thee,— 

Nearer to Thee ! 

Then with my waking thoughts, 
Bright with Thy praise, 

Out of my stony griefs, 
Bethel I'll raise: 

So by my woes to be 

Nearer, my God, to Thee,— 
Nearer to Thee! 

Or if on joyful wing, 

Cleaving the sky, 
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, 

Upward I fly; 
Still all my song shall be,— 
Nearer, my God, to Thee, 

Nearer to Thee ! 



At the death of a good and admirable person we meet 
to console and animate each other by the recollection of his 

I have the feeling that every man's biography is at his 
own expense. He furnishes not only the facts but the report. 
I mean that all biography is autobiography. It is only what 
he tells of himself that comes to be known and believed. 
In Plutarch's lives of Alexander and Pericles, you have the 
secret whispers of their confidence to their lovers and trusty 
friends. For, it was each report of this kind that impressed 
those to whom it was told in a manner to secure its being 
told everywhere to the best, to those who speak with 
authority to their own times and therefore to ours. For the 
political rule is a cosmical rule, that if a man is not strong 
in his own district, he is not a good candidate elsewhere. 

He whose voice will not be heard here again, could well 
afford to tell his experiences; they were all honorable to 
him, and were part of the history of the civil and religious 
liberty of his times. Theodore Parker was a son of the 
soil, charged with the energy of New England, strong, eager, 
inquisitive of knowledge, of a diligence that never tired, 
upright, of a haughty independence, yet the gentlest of com- 
panions ; a man of study, fit for a man of the world ; with 
decided opinions and plenty of power to state them ; rapidly 
pushing his studies so far as to leave few men qualified to sit 
as his critics. He elected his part of duty, or accepted nobly 
that assigned him in his rare constitution. Wonderful 
acquisition of knowledge, a rapid wit that heard all, and 
welcomed all that came, by seeing its bearing. Such was 
the largeness of his reception of facts, and his skill to 
employ them, that it looked as if he were some President of 


Council to whom a score of telegraphs were ever bringing 
in reports ; and his information would have been excessive, 
but for the noble use he made of it, ever in the interest of 
humanity. He had a strong understanding, a logical method, 
a love for facts, a rapid eye for their historic relations, and a 
skill in stripping them of traditional lustres. He had a 
sprightly fancy, and often amused himself with throwing his 
meaning into pretty apologues, yet we can hardly ascribe to 
his mind the poetic element, though his scholarship had 
made him a reader and quoter of verses. A little more 
feeling of the poetic significance of his facts, would have 
disqualified him for some of his severer offices to his gener- 
ation. The old religions have a charm for most minds which 
it is a little uncanny to disturb. 'T is sometimes a question, 
shall we not leave them to decay without rude shocks ? I 
remember that I found some harshness in his treatment 
both of Greek and of Hebrew antiquity, and sympathized 
with the pain of many good people in his auditory, whilst I 
acquitted him, of course, of any wish to be flippant. 

He came at a time when to the irresistible march of 
opinion the forms still retained by the most advanced sects, 
showed loose and lifeless, and he, with something less of 
affectionate attachment to the old, or with more vigorous 
logic, rejected them. 'T is objected to him that he scattered 
too many illusions. Perhaps more tenderness would have 
been graceful ; but it is vain to charge him with perverting 
the opinions of the new generation. The opinions of 
men are organic. Simply, those came to him who found 
themselves expressed by him. And had they not met this 
enlightened mind, in which they beheld their own opinions 
combined with zeal in every cause of love and humanity, 
they would have suspected their own opinions and suppressed 
them, and so sunk into melancholy or malignity, a feeling of 
loneliness and hostility to what was reckoned respectable. 


'T is plain to me that he has achieved a historic immor- 
tality here ; that he has so woven himself in these few years 
into the history of Boston, that he can never be left out of 
your annals. It will not be in the acts of City Councils ; 
nor of obsequious Mayors ; nor, in the State House, the 
proclamations of Governors, with their failing virtue, — fail- 
ing them at critical moments — that the coming generations 
will study what really befell; but in the plain lessons of 
Theodore Parker in this Music Hall, in Faneuil Hall, 
•or in Legislative Committee Booms, the true temper and 
authentic record of these days will be read. The next gen- 
eration will care little for the chances of elections that govern 
governors now; it will care little for fine gentlemen who 
behaved shabbily, but it will read very intelligently in his 
rough story, fortified with exact anecdotes, precise with 
names and dates, what part was taken by each actor; who 
threw himself into the cause of humanity, and who came to 
the rescue of civilization at a hard pinch, and who blocked 
its course. 

The vice charged against America, is the want of sin- 
cerity in leading men. It does not lie at his door. He 
never kept back the truth, for fear to make an enemy. 
But, on the other hand, it was complained that he was bitter 
and harsh, that his zeal burned with too hot a flame. It is 
so difficult, in evil times, to escape this charge! For the 
faithful preacher most of all. It was his merit, like Luther, 
Knox, and Latimer, and John Baptist, to speak tart truth, 
when that was peremptory, and when there were few to say 
it. But his sympathy for goodness was not less energetic. 
One fault he had, — he over-estimated his friends, — I may 
well say it, and sometimes vexed them with the importunity 
of his good opinion, whilst they knew better the ebb which 
follows exaggerated praise. He was capable, it must be said, 
of the most unmeasured eulogies on those he esteemed, es- 


pecially if lie had any jealousy that they did not stand with 
the Boston public as highly as they ought. His command- 
ing merit as a reformer is this, that he insisted beyond all 
men in pulpits, — I cannot think of one rival, — that the 
essence of Christianity is its practical morals ; it is there for 
use, or it is nothing ; and if you combine it with sharp trad- 
ing, or with ordinary city ambitions to gloss over municipal 
corruptions, or private intemperance, or successful fraud, or 
immoral politics, or unjust wars, or the cheating of Indians, 
or the robbery of frontier nations, or leaving your principles 
at home to show on the high seas or in Europe a supple 
complaisance to tyrants, — it is a hypocrisy, and the truth is 
not in you ; and no love of religious music or of dreams of 
Swedenborg, or praise of John Wesley, or of Jeremy Taylor, 
can save you from the Satan which you are. 

His ministry fell on a political crisis also ; on the years 
when Southern slavery broke over its old banks, made new 
and vast pretensions, and wrung from the weakness or 
treachery of Northern people fatal concessions in the Fugi- 
tive Slave Bill and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 
Two days, bitter in the memory of Boston, the days of the 
rendition of Sims and of Burns, made the occasion of his 
most remarkable discourses. He kept nothing back. In 
terrible earnest he denounced the public crime, and meted 
out to every official, high and low, his due portion. By the 
incessant power of his statement, he made and held a party. 
It was his great service to freedom. He took away the re- 
proach of silent consent that would otherwise have lain 
against the indignant minority, by uttering in the hour and 
place wherein these outrages were done the stern protest. 

But whilst I praise this frank speaker, I have no wish to 

accuse the silence of others. There are men of good powers 

who have so much sympathy, that they must be silent when 

they are not in sympathy. If you don't agree with them, 



they know they only injure the truth by speaking. Their 
faculties will not play them true, and they do not wish to 
squeak and gibber, and so they shut their mouths. I can 
readily forgive this, only not the other, the false tongue 
which makes the worse appear the better cause. There 
were, of course, multitudes to censure and defame this truth- 
speaker. But the brave know the brave. Fops, whether 
in drawing-rooms or churches, will utter the fop's opinion, and 
faintly hope for the salvation of his soul ; but his manly ene- 
mies, who despised the fops, honored him ; and it is well 
known that his great hospitable heart was the sanctuary to 
which every soul conscious of an earnest opinion came for 
sympathy — alike the brave slaveholder and the brave slave- 
rescuer. These met in the house of this honest man — for 
every sound heart loves a responsible person, one who does 
not in generous company say generous things, and in mean 
company base things, but says one thing, — now cheerfully, 
now indignantly, — but always because he must, and because 
he sees, that, whether he speak or refrain from speech, this 
is said over him ; and history, nature, and all souls testify to 
the same. 

Ah, my brave brother ! it seems as if, in a frivolous age, 
our loss were immense, and your place cannot be supplied. 
But you will already be consoled in the transfer of your 
genius, knowing well that the nature of the world will affirm 
to all men, in all times, that which for twenty-five years you 
valiantly spoke ; that the winds of Italy murmur the same 
truth over your grave ; the winds of America over these 
bereaved streets ; that the sea which bore your mourners 
home affirms it, the stars in their courses, and the inspira- 
tions of youth ; whilst the polished and pleasant traitors to 
human rights, with perverted learning and disgraced graces, 
rot and are forgotten with their double tongue saying all that 
is sordid for the corruption of man. 


The sudden and singular eminence of Mr. Parker, the 
importance of his name and influence, are the verdict of his 
country to his virtues. We have few such men to lose ; 
amiable and blameless at home, feared abroad as the stand- 
ard-bearer of liberty, taking all the duties he could grasp, 
and more, refusing to spare himself, he has gone down in 
early glory to his grave, to be a living and enlarging power, 
wherever learning, wit, honest valor, and independence are 



Fair summer glides with face serene, 
Along the quickening earth to-day ; 

In murmuring woods and pastures green 
The thrush and sparrow carol gay. 

But ours must be the song of wo, 
And tears and wintry gloom are ours, 

For one brave heart that lies below 
The tender grass and laughing flowers. 

Across the melancholy wave 

Our constant thought flies swiftly there, 
And lingers hovering round his grave, 

Amid the fragrant Tuscan air. 

0, rest in peace ! from labors rest ! 

Too long thy blest release we weep ; 
Thy body sleeps in Earth's kind breast, 

Its loftier way thy soul doth keep. 

With us, with us thy memory dwells, 
Forbids despair, and hushes strife, — 

Here most, where every echo tells 
The story of thy noble life. 


Yet what can check our sorrow here ? 

Or who more justly weep than we, 
While Love and Reverence force the tear, 

And Truth and Freedom mourn for thee 1 


The lesson of this desk is Truth! That your brave 
teacher dared to speak, and no more. It is only two or 
three times in our lives that we pause in telling the whole 
merit of a friend, from fear of being thought flatterers. 
What the world thinks easily done, it believes ; all beyond 
is put down to fiction. I find myself hesitating to speak just 
all I think of Theodore Parker, lest those who did not 
know him should suppose I flatter, and thus I mar the mas- 
sive simplicity of his fame. 

Born on the 24th of August, 1810, he died just before 
finishing his fiftieth year. He said to me, years ago, " When 
I am fifty, I will leave the pulpit, and finish the great works 
I have planned." God ordered it so ! He has left this desk, 
and gone there to finish the great works that he planned ! 
Some speak of his death as early ; but he died in good old 
age, if we judge him by his work, — full of labors, if not of 
years, — a long life crowded into few years ; as Bacon says, 
" Old in hours, for he lost no time." Truly, he lost not an 
hour, from the early years when, in his sweet, plain phrase, 
he tells us " his father let the baby pick up chips, drive the 
cows to pasture, and carry nubs of corn to the oxen " — far 
on to the closing moment when, faint and dying, he sent us 
his blessing and brave counsel last November, dated fitly 
from Bo me. God granted him life long enough to see of 
the labor of his hands. He planted broadly, and lived to 
gather a rich, ripe harvest. His life, too, was an harmonious 
whole, — 


" when brought 

Among the tasks of real life, he wrought, 

Upon the plan that pleased his childish thought." 

The very last page those busy fingers ever wrote, tells the 
child's story, than which, he says, " no event in my life has 
made so deep and lasting an impression on me." " A little 
boy in petticoats, in my fourth year, my father sent me from 
the field home." A spotted tortoise, in shallow water, at the 
foot of a rhodora, caught his sight, and he lifted his stick to 
strike it, when " a voice within said, ? it is wrong.' I stood 
with lifted stick, in wonder at the new emotion, till rhodora 
and tortoise vanished from my sight. I hastened home, and 
asked my mother what it was that told me it was wrong. 
Wiping a tear with her apron, and taking me in her arms, 
she said, ' Some men call it conscience ; but I prefer to call 
it the voice of God in the soul of man. If you listen to it 
and obey it, then it will speak clearer and clearer, and 
always guide you right. But if you turn a deaf ear or dis- 
obey, then it will fade out, little by little, and leave you in 
the dark and without a guide.' " 

Out of that tearful mother's arms grew your pulpit. 
Here in words — every day in the streets, by deeds, during 
a hard life, he repeated and obeyed her counsel. 

Of that pulpit, its theology, and its treatment by Unita- 
rian divines, manly and Christian lips spoke to us two weeks 
ago. It is not for me, even if there were need, to touch 
on it. Born in that faith, and nurtured in similar maxims 
of the utmost liberty, and the duty of individual investiga- 
tion and thought, I used it to enter other paths. Mine is the 
old faith of New England. On those points he and I rarely 
talked. What he thought, I hardly know. For myself, 
standing beneath the Gospel rule of "judging men by their 
fruits," I should have felt stronger in defending my own 


faith, could I have pointed to any preacher of it who as 
gently judged and as truly loved his fellow men. As to 
doctrines, we both knew that " the whole of truth can never 
do harm to the whole of virtue ; " that, of course, a man's 
conception of truth is only his opinion, and not, necessarily, 
absolute truth. But it is always safe and wise for honest 
and earnest men to seek for truth everywhere and at all 
hazards. The results, if not wholly and only good, are yet 
the best things within our reach. 

The lesson of Theodore Parker's preaching was love. 
Let me read for you a sonnet still among his papers : 

Oh, Brother ! who for us didst meekly wear 

The Crown of Thorns about thy radiant brow ; 
What Gospel from the Father didst thou bear, 

Our hearts to cheer, making us happy now % 
'Tis this alone, the immortal Saviour cries, 

To fill thy heart with ever-active love ; 
Love for the wicked as in sin he lies, 

Love for thy Brother here, thy God above ; 
Fear nothing ill, 't will finish in its day, 

Live for the Good, taking the ill thou must ; 
Toil with thy might, with manly labor pray, 

Living and loving learn thy God to trust, 
And He will shed upon thy soul the^)lessings of the just. 

Standing in the old ways, I cannot but suspect these Unita- 
rian pulpits of some latent and cowardly distrust of their own 
creed, when I see that if one comes from them to our Or- 
thodox ranks, and believes a great deal more than they do, 
he is treated with reverend respect ; but let him go out on 
the other side, and believe a very little less, and the whole 
startled body join in begging the world not to think them 
naturally the parents of such horrible and dangerous 
heresy ! 

But there is one thing every man may say of this pulpit. 


It was a live reality, and no sham. Whether tearing theolog- 
ical idols to pieces at "West Roxbury, or here, battling with 
the every-day evils of the streets, it was ever a live voice, 
and no mechanical or parrot tune : ever fresh from the heart 
of God, as these flowers, these lilies — the last flower over 
which, when eyesight failed him, with his old gesture, he 
passed his loving hand and said, " how sweet ! " As in that 
story he loved so much to tell, of Michael Angelo, when in 
the Roman palace Raphael was drawing his figures too 
small, Angelo sketched a colossal head of fit proportions, 
and taught Raphael his fault, — so Parker criticized these 
other pulpits, not so much by censure as by creation ; by a 
pulpit proportioned to the hour, broad as humanity, frank 
as truth, stern as justice, and loving as Christ. 

Here is the place to judge him. In St. Paul's Cathedral, 
the epitaph says, if you would know the genius of Christo- 
pher Wren, "look around." Do you ask proof how full 
were the hands, how large the heart, how many-sided the 
brain of your teacher — listen, and you will hear it in the 
glad, triumphant certainty of your enemies, that you must 
close these doors since his place can never be filled ! Do 
you ask proof of his efficient labor and the good soil into 
which that seed fell — gladden your eyes by looking back 
and seeing for how many months the impulse his vigorous 
hand gave you has sufficed, spite of boding prophecy, to keep 
these doors open ! Yes, he has left those accustomed to use 
weapons, and not merely to hold up his hands. And not 
only among yourselves. From another city, I received a 
letter, full of deep feeling, and the writer, an orthodox 
church-member, says — 

" I was a convert to Theodore Parker before I was a con- 
vert to . If there is any thing of value in the work I 

am doing to-day, it may, in an important sense, be said to 
have had its root in Parker's heresy. I mean the habit, 


without which orthodoxy stands emasculated and good for 
nothing, of independently passing on the empty and rotten 
pretensions of churches and churchmen, which I learned ear- 
liest and more than from any other from Theodore Parker. 
He has my love, my respect, my admiration." 

Yes, his diocese is broader than Massachusetts. His in- 
fluence extends very far outside these walls. Every pulpit 
in Boston is freer and more real to-day because of the exist- 
ence of this. The fan of his example scattered the chaff of 
a hundred sapless years. Our whole city is fresher to-day 
because of him. The most sickly and timid soul under yon- 
der steeple, hide-bound in days and forms and beggarly Jewish 
elements, little dreams how ten times worse and narrower it 
was before this sun warmed the general atmosphere around. 
As was said of Burke's unsuccessful impeachment of Warren 
Hastings, " never was the great object of punishment, the 
prevention of crime, more completely obtained. Hastings 
was acquitted, but tyranny and injustice were condemned 
wherever English was spoken." So we may say of Boston 
and Theodore Parker. Grant that few adopted his extreme 
theological views — that not many sympathized in his poli- 
tics ; still, that Boston is nobler, purer, braver, more loving, 
more Christian to-day, is due more to him than to all the 
pulpits that vex her Sabbath air. He raised the level of 
sermons intellectually and morally. Other preachers were 
compelled to grow in manly thought and Christian morals 
in very self-defence. The droning routine of dead metaphy- 
sics or dainty morals was gone. As Christ preached of the 
fall of the tower of Siloam the week before, and what men 
said of it in the streets of Jerusalem, so Parker rung through 
our startled city the news of some fresh crime against 
humanity — some slave hunt, or wicked court, or prostituted 
official — till frightened audiences actually took bond of 
their new clergymen that they should not be tormented 
before their time ! 


Men say he erred on that great question of our age — the 
place due to the Bible. Perhaps so. But William Crafts, 
one of the bravest men tvho ever fled from our vulture to 
Victoria, writes to a friend : " When the slave-hunters were 
on our track, and no other minister, except yourself, came to 
direct our attention to the God of the oppressed, Mr. Par- 
ker came with his wise counsel, and told us where and how 
to go ; gave us money — but that was not all — he gave me 
a weapon to protect our liberties, and a Bible to guide our 
souls. I have that Bible now, and shall ever prize it most 

How direct and frank his style — just level to the nation's 
ear. No man ever needed to read any one of his sentences 
twice to catch its meaning. None suspected that he thought 
other than he said, or more than he confessed. 

Like all such men, he grew daily — never too old to learn. 
Mark how closer to actual life, how much bolder in reform, 
are all his later sermons — especially since he came to the 
city — every year a step 

" forward, persevering to the last, 

From well to better, daily self-surpassed.'* 

There are men whom we measure by their times — conr 
tent and expecting to find them subdued to what they work 
in. They are the chameleons of circumstance ; they are 
Eolian harps, toned by the breeze that sweeps over them. 
There are others, who serve as guide-posts and land-marks 
— we measure their times by them. Such was Theodore 
Parker. Hereafter the critic will use him as a mete-wand, 
to measure the heart and civilization of Boston. Like the 
Englishman, a year or two ago, who suspected our great 
historian could not move in the best circles of the city, when 
it dropped out that he did not know Theodore Parker, dis- 
tant men gauge us by our toleration and recognition of him. 


Such men are our Niloineters ; the harvest of the future is 
according to the height that the flood of our love rises round 
them. Who cares now that Harvard vouchsafed him no 
honors ! But history will save the fact to measure the cal- 
culating and prudent bigotry of our times. 

Some speak of him only as a bitter critic and harsh 
prophet. Pulpits and journals shelter their plain speech in 
mentioning him under the example of what they call his 
" unsparing candor." Do they feel that the strangeness of 
their speech, their unusual frankness, needs apology and 
example ! But he was far other than a bitter critic ; though 
thank God for every drop of that bitterness that came like a 
wholesome rebuke on the dead, saltless sea of American life ! 
Thank God for every indignant protest, for every Christian 
admonition that the Holy Spirit breathed through those 
manly lips ! But if he deserved any single word, it was 
" generous." Vir generosus is the description that leaps to 
the lip of every scholar. He was generous of money. Born 
on a New England farm, in those days when small incom- 
ings made every dollar a matter of importance, he no sooner 
had command of wealth than he lived with open hands. 
Not even the darling ambition of a great library ever tempt- 
ed him to close his ear to need. Go to Venice or Vienna, 
to Frankfort or to Paris,and ask the refugees who have gone 
back, — when here friendless exiles but for him, — under 
whose roof they felt most at home ! One of our oldest and 
best teachers writes me, that telling him once, in the cars, 
of a young lad of rare mathematical genius, who could read 
Laplace, but whom narrow means debarred from the Uni- 
versity — " Let him enter," said Theodore Parker ; " I will 
pay his bills." 

No sect, no special study, no one idea bounded his sympa- 
thy ; but he was generous in judgment, where a common 
man would have found it hard to be so. Though he does 


not " go down to dust without his fame," though Oxford and 
Germany sent him messages of sympathy, still, no word of 
approbation from the old grand names of our land, no hon- 
ors from University or learned Academy, greeted his brave, 
diligent, earnest life ; men can confess that they voted against 
his admission to scientific bodies for his ideas, feeling all the 
while that his brain could furnish half the Academy ; and 
yet, thus ostracized, he was the most generous, more than 
just, interpreter of the motives of those about him, and looked 
on while others reaped where he sowed, with most gener- 
ous joy in their success. Patiently analyzing character and 
masterly in marshalling facts, he stamped with generous jus- 
tice the world's final judgment of Webster, and now that the 
soreness of the battle is over, friend and foe allow it. 

He was generous of labor, — books never served to ex- 
cuse him from any, — the humblest work. Though " hiv- 
ing wisdom with each studious year," and passionately de- 
voted to his desk, as truly as was said of Milton, " The low- 
liest duties on himself he laid." What drudgery of the street 
did that scholarly hand ever refuse ? Who so often and con- 
stant as he in the trenches, when a slave case made our city a 
camp ? Loving books, he had no jot of a scholar's indolence 
or timidity, but joined hands with labor everywhere. Eras- 
mus would have found him good company, and Melanchthon 
got brave help over a Greek manuscript ; but the likeliest 
place to have found him in that age would have been at 
Zwingle's side, on the battle-field, pierced with a score of 
fanatic spears. For, above all things, he was terribly in 
earnest. If I sought to paint him in one word, I should say 
he was always in earnest. 

I spoke once of his diligence, and we call him tireless, un- 
flagging, unresting. But they are common-place words, and 
poorly describe him. What we usually call diligence in ed- 
ucated men does not outdo, does not equal the day-laborer 


in ceaselessness of toil. No scholar, not even the busiest, 
but loiters out from his weary books, and feels shamed by 
the hodman or the plough-boy. The society and amuse- 
ments of easy life eat up and beguile one half our time. 
Those on whose lips and motions hang crowds of busy idlers, 
submit to life-long discipline, almost every hour a lesson. 
Those on whose tones float the most precious truth, disdain 
an effort. The table you write on is the fruit of more toil- 
some and thorough discipline than the brain of most who 
deem themselves scholars ever knew. Let us not cheat our- 
selves with words. But no poor and greedy mechanic, no 
farm tenant " on shares " ever distanced this unresting brain. 
He brought into his study that conscientious, loving indus- 
try which six generations had handed down to him on the 
hard soil of Massachusetts. He loved work, and I doubt if 
any workman in our empire equalled him in thoroughness 
of preparation. Before he wrote his review of Prescott, he 
went conscientiously through all the printed histories of that 
period in three or four tongues. Before he ventured to 
paint for you the portrait of John Quincy Adams, he read 
every line Adams ever printed, and all the attacks upon him 
that could be found in public or private collections. 

Fortunate man ! he lived long enough to see the eyes of 
the whole nation turned toward him as to a trusted teacher. 
Fortunate, indeed, in a life so noble, that even what was 
scorned from the pulpit, will surely become oracular from 
the tomb ! Thrice fortunate, if he loved fame and future in- 
fluence, that the leaves which bear his thoughts to posterity 
are not freighted with words penned by sickly ambition or 
wrung from hunger, — but with earnest thoughts on dan- 
gers that make the ground tremble under our feet, and the 
heavens black over our head, — the only literature sure to 
live. Ambition says, " I will write, and be famous." It is 
only a dainty tournament, a sham fight, forgotten when the 


smoke clears away. Real books are like Yorktown or 
Waterloo, whose cannon shook continents at the moment, 
and echo down the centuries. Through such channels Par- 
ker poured his thoughts. 

And true hearts leaped to his side. No man's brain ever 
made him warmer friends ; no man's heart ever held them 
firmer. He loved to speak of how many hands he had, in 
every city, in every land, ready to work for him. With 
royal serenity he levied on all. Vassal hearts multiplied 
the great chief's powers. And at home the gentlest and 
deepest love, saintly, unequalled devotion, made every hour 
sunny, held off every care, and left him double liberty to 
work. God comfort that widowed heart ! 

Judge him by his friends. No man suffered anywhere, 
who did not feel sure of his sympathy. In sick chambers, 
and by the side of suffering humanity, he kept his heart soft 
and young. No man lifted a hand anywhere for truth and 
right, who did not look on Theodore Parker as his fellow- 
laborer. When men hoped for the future, this desk was 
one stone on which they planted their feet. Where, more 
frequent than around his board, would you find men familiar 
with Europe's dungeons and the mobs of our own streets ? 
Wherever the fugitive slave might worship, here was his 
Gibraltar. Over his mantel, however scantily furnished, in 
this city or elsewhere, you were sure to find a picture of 

But he is gone ! So certain was he of his death, that in 
the still watches of the Italian night, he comforted the sick- 
ening hopes of those about him by whispering — 

" I hear a voice you cannot hear, 
Which says I must not stay ; 
I see a hand you cannot see, 
Which beckons me away." 


But where shall we stop ? This empty desk ! You may 
fill it, but where is he who called it into being ? Who shall 
make it so emphatically the symbol of free thought? To 
have stood here was, for most men, sufficient credentials. 
Here the young knight earned his spurs. Around it has 
swelled and tossed the battle of Christian liberty. The de- 
bate, whether Theodore Parker should speak in one place 
or preach in another, has been one of God's chief methods 
of teaching this land the lesson of what bigots style toleration, 
and freemen better call Christian liberty. 

He has passed on — we linger. That other world grows 
more real to us, as friend after friend enters it. Soon more 
are there than on this side ; soon our hearts are more than 
half there. God tenderly sunders the few ties that still 
bind us. So live that when called to join that other assem- 
bly, we shall feel we are only passing from an apprentice- 
ship of thought and toil to broader fields and a higher teacher 

The blessings of the poor are his laurels. Say that his 
words won doubt and murmur to trust in a loving God — 
let that be his record ! Say that to the hated and friend- 
less, he was shield and buckler — let that be his epitaph ! 
The glory of children is the fathers. When you voted " that 
Theodore Parker should be heard in Boston," God honored 
you. Well have you kept that pledge. In much labor and 
with many sacrifices he has laid the corner-stone. His 
work is ended here. God calls you to put on the top-stone. 
Let fearless lips and Christian lives be his monument ! 

HYMN 327. 

My God, I thank Thee ! may no thought 
E'er deem Thy chastisements severe ; 

But may this heart, by sorrow taught, 
Calm each wild wish, each idle fear. 


Thy mercy bids all nature bloom ; 

The sun shines bright, and man is gay ; 
Thine equal mercy spreads the gloom 

That darkens o'er his little day. 

Full many a throb of grief and pain 
Thy frail and erring child must know ; 

But not one prayer is breathed in vain, 
Nor does one tear unheeded flow. 

Thy various messengers employ ; 

Thy purposes of love fulfil ; 
And 'mid the wreck of human joy, 

Let kneeling faith adore Thy will. 

The exercises were concluded with a benediction pro- 
nounced by Rev. Mr. Russell. 

The following letter was received from Mr. Wasson, and 
would have been read had not the length of the exercises 
prevented : — 


Not only ages, but entire civilizations may pass, before 
another man shall arise, just so gifted and equipped as him 
whom we commemorate to-day. It is not so much that his 
powers were rare in kind, though they were surely rare — 
very rare in degree ; but his distinction is that he combined 
in himself qualities, which commonly go to the making of a 
large number of men, and are considered incompatible ; and, 
as oxygen and carbon in their chemical union make flame, 
and hydrogen and oxygen produce water, though in their 
separate accumulation the former are cold and the latter 
dry, so qualities and powers which separately would have 
made only a multitude of strong men, in their vital union 
produced that brand of the Lord, that Missouri of manhood, 


whom we remember as Theodore Parker. Winckelmaim, 
in his work on Greek art, shows that the finest forms were 
achieved by an admirable blending into one of the charac- 
teristics of man and woman ; and I think that in great excel- 
lence everywhere there is a conjunction of natural opposites. 
So was it with our hero. He was in spirit a union of Cato 
the Censor, and some sweetest Sister of Charity ; he was 
both Freya, the gentle and prophetic, and Thor with the 
thunder hammer. So while his learning and reading were 
so vast that the entire faculty of a college could have been 
well fitted out from his single brain, on the other hand, he 
could teach common sense to mechanics, homely simplicity 
of speech to draymen, and sympathy with the every-day in- 
terests of mankind to all. He was more a recluse student 
than any merest scholar ; and he inhabited a wider out-of- 
doors than sea-captains. He had such trust in God and such 
sureness of the future, — or rather a thousand times more 
than such — as those have who "wait God's time ;" while yet 
he toiled as though the weight of the world rested upon his 
shoulders alone, and as if no plant of blessing should spring 
up for the future whose seed was not sown out of his own 
heart. It is often said that he was chiefly a destroyer. That 
is not true. He joined opposites here as elsewhere. He 
indeed pulled down with power, but also with power and 
assiduity he built up. He spurned the false ; but it was for 
love of the true. He lopped away with an unsparing hand 
the foolish or hidden excrescences of theological speculation ; 
but so much and more did he enlarge and affirm the sim- 
ple elements, the universal truths, of faith and morals. But 
I misstate — I said that he pulled down ; — this, however, 
is not so. To cleanse the Augean stables is not to destroy 
them. To push away ruin and corruption is no work of 
destruction. He swept, indeed, the house of Faith, intol- 
erant of the abominations which profaned it ; but at the 
same time, and with no less industrious hand, he strength- 


ened and buttressed its walls. He was a reverent man, — 
profoundly religious and reverent. True, he did not split 
hairs about the Trinity ; he did not maunder of the Logos ; 
he did not prate of the Fathers ; he was not tender toward 
superstitions that slander God ; and did not earn a cheap 
reputation for a reverent habit so ; but that man is reverent 
who bows before the attributes of God, and who can honor 
all men, be they white or black ; that man is reverent to 
whom justice is commanding and goodness adorable ; and 
of whom could this be affirmed more than of Theodore 
Parker ? 

He was a rare learner, humble, docile, intent; a perpetual 
child at the text-book* of Nature, constantly correcting him- 
self, never ashamed to confess a mistake ; yet he had pre- 
eminently the spirit and genius of a teacher, — methodical, 
clear, positive, endlessly varying his statements, and never, 
by a hundred or a thousand repetitions of his cardinal facts 
and doctrines, wearying either himself or his hearers. 

So self-respecting he was that he forgot not the rights of 
his manhood even in the most awed moment of his adora- 
tion — so humble that there was no hind, no idiot, to whom 
his heart beat not with equal love as a brother. He was 
capable of a mighty wrath, but it was born of his love, and 
never expended upon account of his private wrongs ; he 
was angry and sinned not, for it was the anger of the 
prophet ; indignation at wrongs done to humanity ; a grand, 
a noble, a sacred passion. Treachery to truth, to justice, to 
mercy, to God and man — this it was, and this alone, that 
flushed his brow. A blow at himself he never in his life 
returned ; but the wretch, especially the great, the powerful, 
the prosperous wretch, who came to stab at the heart of 
humanity, him he confronted, and in no trivial mood ! He 
was the war-horse of God — he was the Coeur de Lion of 
conscience and common sense — he was a sanctified Titan 
— he was Theodore Parker ! 



At the session of the New England Anti-Slavery Conven- 
tion, on Thursday afternoon, May 31, the following Resolu- 
tions were offered by Wendell Phillips : — 

Resolved, That in the death of our beloved friend and 
fellow-laborer, Theodore Parker, liberty, justice, and truth 
lose one of their ablest and foremost champions — one whose 
tireless industry, whose learning, the broadest, most thorough 
and profound New England knows, whose masterly intellect, 
melted into a brave and fervent heart, earned for him the 
widest and most abiding influence ; in the service of truth and 
right, lavish of means, prodigal of labor, fearless in utterance ; 
the most Christian minister at God's altar in all our Com- 
monwealth, one of the few whose fidelity saves the name of 
the ministry from being justly a reproach and byword with 
religious and thinking men ; a kind, true heart, full of woman- 
ly tenderness — the object of the most unscrupulous even of 
bigot and priestly hate, yet on whose garments bitter and 
watchful malice found no stain — laying on the altar the fruits 
of the most unresting toil, yet ever ready as the idlest to man 
any post of daily and humble duty at any moment : — in him 
we lose that strong sense, deep feeling and love of right for 
whose eloquent voice millions waited in every hour of dark- 


ness and peril, whose last word came, fitly, across the water 
a salutation and a blessing to the kindred martyrs of Har- 
per's Ferry : — the store-house of the lore of every language 
and age, the armory of a score of weapons sacred to right, 
the leader whose voice was the bond of a mighty host, the 
friend ever sincere, loyal, and vigilant, a man whose fidelity 
was attested equally by the trust of those who loved him, 
and the hate of every thing selfish, heartless, and base in the 
land ; in time to come the slave will miss keenly that voice 
always heard in his behalf, and which a nation was learning 
to heed — and whoever anywhere lifts a hand for any victim 
of wrong and sin, will be lonelier and weaker for the death 
we mourn to-day. 

Resolved, That a copy of the above resolution be sent to 
Mrs. Parker, with fit expression of our most sincere and 
respectful sympathy in this hour of her bitter grief and sad 



I can only say, for myself, that, perhaps, I have no right 
to a single moment of the precious time, so wisely assigned 
to other speakers ; but this let me say, as the presiding officer 
of this Convention, that under no auspices, perhaps, could 
this fitting tribute be more suitably and profitably offered, 
than under those of the New England Anti-Slavery Conven- 
tion; and, were the tribute to be commensurate with the 
worth of our dear friend, it might better be said, under the 
auspices of the United States Anti-Slavery Convention, or 
the wide world's Anti-Slavery Convention. For who more 
than he has been the fearless champion of human rights ? 


This, as was said yesterday, of all places in this city of his 
professional labors, is the fitting place for our tribute; for 
you remember it was here that he first planted the standard 
of freedom of speech and the freedom of the pulpit, which 
he so manfully and nobly sustained to the hour of his death. 
I am sure there are many here present who well remember 
the stormy day, the memorable sixteenth of February, 1845, 
when we met here his few and fondly-attached followers, 
and here inaugurated that freedom which he so bravely car- 
ried out. 

But, as I said when I began, I have no right — though my 
heart is full enough, Heaven knows — to encroach upon the 
time which has been assigned to other and abler speakers. 
You are to hear, this afternoon, from Wendell Phillips, and 
others who knew and loved our friend — the friend of man. 


Mr. President : — I shall not detain you or the Conven- 
tion long with what I have to say. You are all expecting, 
and expecting justly, from the lips of him who has just read 
to you the resolutions, a speech which will be more worthy 
of them and of the occasion than any thing that I can offer. 
But I deem it a privilege as well as a duty first to press upon 
you — if, indeed, they need to be pressed — those resolutions, 
expressive of the sorrow which every one who had aught to 
do with this or any other attempted reforms in our country 
must feel, when they think of the departure of those who 
have been so true, so faithful, so fearless. I look back, Mr. 
President, with a sad heart upon the past, when I remember 
not only these two faithful ones, but others who have fallen, 
ere yet the great work to which we put our hands, a few 
years ago, seems to be half accomplished. When I first 


heard our brother Garrison state and advocate the great 
principles on which the redemption of the enslaved in our 
country was to be attempted, they seemed to me so self-evi- 
dently true, they were so impressive, that I had not a doubt 
of their almost immediate acceptance when they should be 
made known. So simple was I in that day of Anti-Slavery 
infancy ! In 1840, a dear friend, my step-mother, died. 
She had ever, however, I am sorry to say, been opposed to 
my espousal of the Anti-Slavery cause ; for though excellent 
in other respects, she was constitutionally conservative. I 
refer to her now, that I may mention a fact which I had for- 
gotten for some time. Among her papers was one dated 
about ten years before the time when I found it, on which 
was recorded this simple prediction of mine: — "Our son, S. 
J. May, says that, in ten years from this time, the Anti-Sla- 
very cause must be triumphant." That was in 1840. How 
little did I foresee the trials to which this self-evident truth 
was to be subjected, ere it would be accepted by the people ! 
Never shall I forget the joy of my heart when our friends, 
Phillips and Quincy, came forth, with all their academic 
honors upon them, and all their professional prospects before 
them, and laid themselves, and all they were and had, upon 
the altar of devotion to the slave. It seemed to me the har- 
binger of almost immediate triumph to our cause. But we 
toiled on, year after year, and still the mighty Bastile stood, 
apparently as firm as ever. Then came the men who are 
alluded to in these resolutions. And more especially Theo- 
dore Parker, of whom all that is here set forth may be said, 
and more, if language could be found to express it. A truer, 
purer, simpler, more devout, devoted, fearless, loving man, 
have I never known. And yet, what have his labors, and 
all the labors of brother Browne, and of all who have come 
into this cause, effected ? The nation is indeed aroused ; the 
nation can never slumber again over this mighty wrong; — that 


is true. The day of triumph must come, for there is a God, 
and there is a spark of Divinity in every human heart, else 
man would not be man. And yet, who is confident enough 
to prophesy when the hour is to be ? But let us not be dis- 
couraged. In grateful memory of these devoted friends, in 
grateful memory of the services rendered us by that man, 
especially, whose memory is to live, and whose fame is to 
spread wider and wider, and whose loving and burning words 
are to be listened to by an ever enlarging audience through- 
out every part of those lands which speak our language — 
aye, and all other lands in which there is any thing like free 
thought — in grateful remembrance of his services, and as the 
best testimony we can give him of our gratitude and love, 
let us now, with renewed devotion, consecrate ourselves all 
the more to this great service, in the solemn resolution that, 
crippled as we are by his removal from our midst, yet, trust- 
ing in that God whom he so nobly vindicated from the asper- 
sions that a false theology has thrown upon him, and to the 
power of that truth which possesses, in itself, an influence 
which the stoutest, the most malignant, cannot forever with- 
stand — let us, I say, resolve that, crippled as we are, we will 
nevertheless go on with increased determination, fighting this 
monster- wrong to its death. 


Another friend is gone. Not gone! No, with us, only 
standing on one step higher than he did. To such spirits, 
there is no death. In the old times, when men fought with 
spears, the warrior hurled his weapon into the thickest of the 
opposite host, and struggled bravely on, until he stood over 
it and reclaimed it. In the bloom of his youth, Theodore 
Parker flung his heart forward at the feet of the Eternal ; 


he has only struggled onward, and reached it to-day. Only- 
one step higher ! 

" Wail ye may full well for Scotland, 
Let none dare to mourn for him." 

How shall we group his qualities ? The first that occurs 
to me is the tireless industry of that unresting brain, which 
never seemed to need leisure. When some engagement 
brought me home in the small hours of the morning, many 
and many a time have I looked out (my own window com- 
mands those of his study), and seen that unquenched light 
burning — that unflagging student ever at work. Half cu- 
rious, half ashamed, I lay down, saying with the Athenian, 
" The trophies of Miltiades will not let me sleep." He 
seemed to rebuke me even by the light that flashed from the 
window of his study. I have met him on the cars deep in 
some strange tongue, or hiving up knowledge to protect the 
weak and hated of his own city. Neither on the journey nor 
at home did his spirit need to rest. 

Why is he dead ? Because he took up the burden of three 
men. A faithful pulpit is enough for one man. He filled it 
until the fulness of his ideas overflowed into other channels. 
It was not enough. His diocese extended to the prairies. 
On every night of the week, those brave lips smothered 
bigotry, conquered prejudice, and melted true hearts into 
his own on the banks of the Mississippi. This was enough 
for two men. But he said, " I will bring to this altar of 
Reform a costlier offering yet ; " and he gathered the sheaf 
of all literature into his bosom, and came with another man's 
work, almost all the thoughts of all ages and all tongues, as 
the background of his influence in behalf of the slave. He 
said, "Let no superficial scholarship presume to arraign 
Reform as arrogant and empty fanaticism. I will overtop 
your candidates with language and law, and show you, in all 


tongues, by arguments hoar with antiquity, the rightfulness 
and inevitable necessity of justice and liberty." Enough 
work for three men to do ; and he sunk under the burden. 

Lord Bacon says, " Studies teach not their own use ; that 
comes from a wisdom without them and above them." The 
fault of New England scholarship is that it knows not its own 
use ; that, as Bacon says, " it settles in its fixed ways, and 
does not seek reformation." The praise of this scholar is, 
that, like the great master of English philosophy, he was 
content to light his torch at every man's candle. He was 
not ashamed to learn. When he started in the pulpit, he 
came a Unitarian, with the blessings of Cambridge. Men 
say he is a Unitarian no longer ; but the manna, when it 
was kept two days, bred maggots, and the little worms that 
run about on the surface of corruption call themselves the 
children and representatives of Channing. They are only 
the worms of the manna, and the pulpit of Federal Street 
found its child at the Music Hall. God's lineage is not of 
blood. Brewster of Plymouth, if he stood here to-day, 
would not be in the Orthodox Church, counting on his anx- 
ious fingers the five points of Calvin. No ; he would be 
shouldering a Sharpe's rifle in Kansas ; fighting against the 
libels of the Independent and Observer ; preaching treason 
in Virginia, and hung on an American gibbet; — for the 
child of Puritanism is not mere Calvinism ; it is the loyalty 
to justice which tramples under foot the wicked laws of its 
own epoch. So Unitarianism (so far as it has any worth) 
is not standing in the same pulpit, or muttering the same 
shibboleth ; it is, like Channing, looking into the face of a 
national sin, and, with lips touched like Isaiah's, finding it 
impossible not to launch at it the thunderbolt of God's 

Old Lyman Beecher said, " If you want to find the suc- 
cessor of St. Paul, seek him where you find the same objec- 


tions made to a preacher that were made to St. Paul." 
Who won the hatred of the merchant princes of Boston ? 
Who did State street call a madman ? The fanatic of Fed- 
eral street in 1837. Who, with unerring instinct, did that 
same herd of merchant princes hate, with instinctive cer-i 
tainty that, in order that their craft should be safe, they 
ought to hate him ? The Apostle of Music Hall. That is 

When some Americans die — when most Americans die 
— their friends tire the public with excuses. They confess 
this spot, they explain that stain, they plead circumstances 
as the half justification of that mistake, and they beg of us to 
remember that nothing but good is to be spoken of the dead. 
We need no such mantle for that green grave under the sky 
of Florence. No excuses — no explanations — no spot. 
Priestly malice has scanned every inch of his garment ; — it 
was seamless ; it could find no stain. History, as in the case 
of every other of her beloved children, gathers into her 
bosom the arrows which malice had shot at him, and says to 
posterity, " Behold the title-deeds of your gratitude ! " We 
ask no moment to excuse, there is nothing to explain. What 
the snarling journal thought bold, what the selfish politician 
feared as his ruin — it was God's seal set upon his apostleship. 
The little libel glanced across him like a rocket when it goes 
over the vault ; it is passed, and the royal sun shines out as 
beneficent as ever. 

When I returned from New York on the thirteenth day 
of this month, I was to have been honored by standing in 
his desk, but illness prevented my fulfilling the appointment. 
It was eleven o'clock in the morning. As he sank away 
the same week, under the fair sky of Italy, he said to the 
most loving of wives and of nurses, "Let me be buried 
where I fall;" and tenderly, thoughtfully, she selected four 


o'clock of the same Sunday to mingle his dust with the kin- 
dred dust of brave, classic Italy. 

Four o'clock ! The same sun that looked upon the half- 
dozen mourners that he permitted to follow him to the grave, 
that same moment of brightness lighted up the arches of 
his own Temple, as one whom he loved stepped into his own 
desk, and with remarkable coincidence, for the only time 
during his absence, opened one of his own sermons to supply 
my place ; and as his friend read the Beatitudes over his 
grave on the banks of the Arno, his dearer friend here read 
from a manuscript the text, " Have faith in God." It is 
said that, in his last hours, in the wandering of that masterly 
brain, he murmured, a There are two Theodore Parkers; 
one rests here, dying, but the other lives, and is at work at 
home." How true ! at that very moment, he was speaking 
to his usual thousands ; at that very instant, his own words 
were sinking down into the hearts of those that loved him 
best, and bidding them, in this, the loneliest hour of their 
bereavement, " Have faith in God." 

He always came to this platform. He is an old occupant 
of it. He never made an apology for coming to it. I re- 
member many years ago, going home from the very hall 
which formerly occupied this place. He had sat where you 
sit, in the seats, looking up to us. It had been a stormy, 
hard gathering — a close fight ; the press calumniating us ; 
every journal in Boston ridiculing the idea which we were 
endeavoring to spread. As I passed down the stairs home- 
ward, he put his arm within mine, and said, " You shall 
never need to ask me again to share that platform." It 
was the instinct of his nature, true as the bravest heart. 
The spot for him was where the battle was hottest. He 
had come, as half the clergy come — a critic. He felt 
it was not his place ; that it was to grapple with the tiger, 


and throttle him. And the pledge that he made he kept ; 
for, whether here or in New York, as his reputation 
grew, when that lordly mammoth of the press, the Tribune, 
overgrown in its independence and strength, would not con- 
descend to record a word that Mr. Garrison or I could 
utter, but bent low before the most thorough scholarship of 
New England, and was glad to win its way to the confidence 
of the West by being his mouthpiece — with that weapon 
of influence in his right hand, he always placed himself at 
our side, and in the midst of us, in the capital State of the 

You may not think this great praise — we do. Other 
men have brought us brave hearts, other men have brought 
us keen-sighted and vigilant intellects, but he brought us, as 
no one else could, the loftiest stature of New England cul- 
ture. He brought us a disciplined intellect, whose statement 
was evidence, and whose affirmation the most gifted student 
took long time before he ventured to doubt or to contradict. 
When we had nothing but our characters, nothing but our 
reputation for accuracy, for our weapons, the man who could 
give to the cause of the slave that weapon, was indeed one 
of its ablest and foremost champions. 

Lord Bacon said in his will, "I leave my name and mem- 
ory to foreign lands, and to my own countrymen, after some 
time be passed." No more fitting words could be chosen, if 
the modesty of the friend who has just gone before us would 
have permitted him to adopt them for himself. To-*day, 
even within twenty-four hours, I have seen symptoms of 
that repentance which Johnson describes : 

" When nations, slowly wise and meanly just, 
To buried merit raise the tardy bust/' 

The men who held their garments aside, and desired to have 
no contact with Music Hall, are beginning to show symptoms 


that they will be glad, when the world doubts whether they 
have any life left, to say, " Did not Theodore Parker spring 
from our bosom ? " Yes, he takes his place — his serene 
place — among those few to whom Americans point as a 
proof that the national heart is still healthy and alive. Most 
of our statesmen, most of our politicians, go down into their 
graves, and we cover them up with apologies ; we walk 
with reverent and filial love backward, and throw the mantle 
over their defects, and say, " Remember the temptation and 
the time ! " Now and then one — now and then one — goes 
up silently, and yet not unannounced, like the stars at their 
coming, and takes its place, while all eyes follow it and say, 
" Thank God ! It is the promise and the herald ! It is the 
nation alive at its heart. God has not left us without a 
witness, for his children have been among us, and one half 
have known them by love, and one half have known them 
by hate — equal attestations to the divine life that has passed 
through our streets." 

I wish I could say any thing worthy ; but he should have 
done for us, with the words that never failed to be fitting, 
with that heart which was always ready, with that eloquence 
which you never waited for and were disappointed — he 
should have done for us what we vainly try to do for him. 
Farewell, brave, strong friend and helper ! 

" Sleep in peace with kindred ashes 
Of the noble and the true ; 
Hands that never failed their country, 
Hearts that baseness never knew ! " 


Mr. Garrison said he felt impelled to utter a few unpre- 
meditated words in support of the resolutions offered by 


Mr. Phillips, respecting the removal of his beloved and en- 
deared friend, Theodore Parker ; and yet, when all 
hearts were full, almost to bursting, in view of this great 
bereavement, the most eloquent words seemed poor and 
common-place. Silence was more expressive than speech. 

His estimate of Mr. Parker was an exalted one. He 
regarded him as one of the most remarkable men the world 
had ever seen — a prodigy as to his scholarly attainments, 
and his power to acquire knowledge in all its varied forms, 
which he dispensed with unbounded munificence for the en- 
lightenment and elevation of his race. He felt very sad 
at his departure, which he regarded as premature, the 
result of overtasking his bodily powers, though for the 
noblest ends. He thought his friend, Mr. Phillips, needed 
to be admonished, rather than stimulated to more protracted 
labors, by that light which he so often saw in Mr. Parker's 
study, at the sacrifice of needed rest. It was not an exam- 
ple to be imitated, for it was using up life too rapidly, in 
violation of physiological law. How often — even before 
he saw any sign of failing health on the part of Mr. Parker 
— had he warned him, with all earnestness, that, by such 
unremitted studies and labors, he was surely "treasuring 
up wrath against the day of wrath!" But he was wont 
playfully, yet confidently, to refer to the longevity of his 
ancestors as full security in his own case. His (Mr. G.'s) 
reply was, " I do not doubt that your great-grandfather, and 
grandfather, and father, were amply endowed with brains ; 
but they never used them as you are tasking yours ; and 
you must be more careful, or the penalty will come." Nev- 
ertheless, if Mr. Parker had fallen thus prematurely, it was 
a rich consolation to know that it was the result of earnest 
devotion to the cause of truth, freedom, and humanity, and 
a very noble sacrifice indeed. 

Mr. Garrison referred to the mental independence and 


moral courage which characterized Mr. Parker in respect to 
all his convictions and acts. He was not, technically, " a 
Garrisonian Abolitionist," though often upon that platform, 
but voted with the Republican party, though faithfully rebuk- 
ing it for its timidity and growing spirit of compromise. 
He was no man's man, and no man's follower, but acted for 
himself, bravely, conscientiously, and according to his best 

But, what of his theology ? Mr. Garrison did not know that 
he could state the whole of Mr. Parker's creed, but he re- 
membered a part of it : — There is one God and Father over 
all, absolute and immutable, whose love is infinite, and there- 
fore inexhaustible, and whose tender mercies are over all the 
works of his hand ; and whether in the body, or out of the 
body, the farthest wanderer from the fold might yet have 
hope. He believed in the continual progress and final re- 
demption of the human race ; that every child of God, 
however erring, would ultimately be brought back. " You 
may quarrel with that theology," said Mr. Garrison, " if you 
please ; I shall not. I like it ; I have great faith in it ; I 
accept it. But this I say, in respect to mere abstract theo- 
logical opinions — the longer I live, the less do I care about 
them, the less do I make them a test of character. It is 
nothing to me that any man calls himself a Methodist, or 
Baptist, or Unitarian, or Universalist. These sectarian shib- 
boleths are easily taken upon the lip, especially when the 
? offence of the Cross ' has ceased. Whoever will, with his 
theology, grind out the best grist for our common humanity, 
is the best theologian for me." 

Many years ago, Thomas Jefferson uttered a sentiment 
which shocked our eminently Christian country as being 
thoroughly infidel : " I do not care," said he, " whether my 
neighbor believes in one God or in twenty gods, if he does 
not pick my pocket," — thus going to the root of absolute 


justice and morality, and obviously meaning this : If a man 
pick my pocket, it is in vain he tells me, in palliation of his 
crime, " I am a believer in one living and true God." That 
may be, but you are a pickpocket, nevertheless. Or he may 
say, " I have not only one God, but twenty gods ; therefore, 
I am not guilty." Nay, but you are a thief! And so we 
always throw ourselves back upon character — upon the 
fact whether a man is honest, just, long-suffering, merciful ; 
and not whether he believes in a denominational creed, or is 
a strict observer of rites and ceremonies. This was the 
religion of Theodore Parker, — always exerting his marvel- 
lous powers to promote the common good, to bless those who 
needed a blessing, and to seek and to save the lost, to bear 
testimony in favor of the right, in the face of an ungodly 
age, and against " a frowning world." 

Mr. Garrison said they were there to honor his memory. 
How could they best show their estimation of him? By 
trying to be like him in nobility of soul, in moral heroism, 
in fidelity to the truth, in disinterested regard for the wel- 
fare of others. 

Mr. Parker, though strong in his convictions, was no dog- 
matist, and assumed no robes of infallibility. No man was 
more docile in regard to being taught, even by the lowliest. 
Mr. Phillips had done him no more than justice when he 
said, that he was willing and eager to obtain instruction from 
any quarter. Hence, he was always inquiring of those with 
whom he came in contact, so that he might learn, if possi- 
ble, something from them that might aid him in the great 
work in which he was engaged. 

When the question of Woman's Rights first came up for 
discussion, like multitudes of others, Mr. Parker was in- 
clined to treat it facetiously, and supposed it could be put 
aside with a smile. Still, it was his disposition to hear and 
to learn ; and as soon as he began to investigate, and to see 


the grandeur and world-wide importance of the Woman's 
Rights movement, he gave to it his hearty support before the 
country and the world. 

How he will be missed by those noble but unfortunate 
exiles who come to Boston from the old world, from time 
to time, driven out by the edicts of European despotism ! 
What a home was Theodore Parker's for them ! How they 
loved to gather around him in that home, and what a sym- 
pathizing friend, and trusty adviser, and generous assistant, 
in their times of sore distress, they have found in him! 
There are many such in Boston, and in various parts of 
our country, who have fled from foreign oppression, who 
will hear of his death with great sorrow of heart, and 
drop grateful tears to his memory. 

Mr. President, our beloved friend and coadjutor has seen 
" the last of earth." We never shall behold his face again 
in the flesh. We shaH never again hear the music of his 
voice, nor be inspired by his bodily presence. But is he 
dead? Are his great powers and faculties paralyzed? Is 
he now in inglorious rest ? Or is he not, rather, more than 
ever before, alive, and beneficently at work ? Is it a dream, 
a fiction of the brain, to believe that he really lives, and 
occupies a nobler and w T ider sphere, and that he will find 
a nobler and grander work to perform than he has been able 
to do here ? I believe in immortal life, — not as a matter 
of logic or of metaphysics, for it does not come within the 
scope of these, — but I feel it in every fibre and nerve of 
my system, in every drop of my blood, in the very instinct, 
necessities, and desires of my nature. 

" The soul, secure in her existence, smiles 
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point." 

This thought, in view of any mortal bereavement, how- 


ever great, fills the soul with complete satisfaction, and in- 
spires it with a new life. 

" God calls our loved ones, but we lose not wholly 
What He hath given ; 
They live on earth, in thought and deed, as truly 
As in His heaven." 

Our departed friend has left with us, and with mankind, 
his great thoughts and noble deeds, and they are imperish- 
able. They have touched and quickened millions of minds 
already, and shall enlighten and inspire millions yet unborn ; 
and so, going down through the ages, they shall be a power 
to redeem mankind. 

As for his reputation, so bitterly assailed and maliciously 
traduced while he lived, time will render it more and more 
illustrious. As for the stigmas cast upon him by narrow- 
minded bigots, and canting hypocrites, and craven time- 
servers, and cold-blooded conservatives, these are to give 
place to the plaudits of a discerning and an appreciating 
posterity. Thus it is that they who are willing to bear the 
cross are permitted in God's good time, to wear the crown ! 

" For truth doth conquer at the last ; 
So round and round we run ; 
And ever the right comes uppermost, 
And ever is justice done 1 " 


When I was asked if I also would say something here, I 

felt as our friend Wendell Phillips felt, and as our friend 

Mr. Garrison also felt, that this was not a time in which we 

could speak words which should analyze or describe the 



character of the man whose loss was filling our hearts with 
a sense of inexpressible grief; but, having heard them speak, 
some thoughts have come to me which I would like to 

We all have a feeling that Theodore Parker was the ripe 
and precious fruit of our New England soil, of our New 
England stock, of our New England mind, of our New Eng- 
land institutions. A better specimen of a full-grown, manly 
and womanly New England mind, heart and hand, has never 
ripened on these old gray rocks of Yankee land. How was 
he great ? There are three directions in which a man may 
be great, and he was great in all three. There is the direc- 
tion of the intellect. There are great thinkers ; there are 
men who make themselves into a thinking machine ; there 
are men who make themselves into a studying machine — 
who fill themselves full of all thoughts and all knowledges, 
and stop there. Theodore Parker had all the power of 
study that any of the hardest and ripest German students, 
who live for nothing but study, have had ; but he had a 
great deal more. When he came back from his first jour- 
ney to Europe, talking with me of the men whom he had 
seen in Germany, he said he went to see old Baur at Tubin- 
gen, and asked him how many hours he studied. He re- 
plied " Only eighteen hours ; " but Baur was a student, and 
nothing but a student. Parker had studied his ten, twelve, 
and, for aught I know, his eighteen hours a day ; but yet, 
all that was merely the beginning of what he was going to do 
with himself — merely the outside preparation for his after 
work. I remember meeting him on the cars on that fatal 
winter which laid the foundation of the disease which took 
him away. He had a carpet-bag with him, filled with Ger- 
man, Greek, and Latin books, — those old books, in vellum, 
of the seventeenth century, — volumes which it is a pain 
merely to look at, so hard reading do they seem to be. On 


Monday morning, he filled his carpet-bag, and went to the 
place where he was to lecture Monday night ; all day long 
he studied his books, and at night delivered his lecture. 
Then on Tuesday he would go to the next place, studying 
his books all day, and lecturing at night. So he would go 
on through the week, until Friday, when he would be back 
again to Boston, with his carpet-bag exhausted, with every 
one of those books gutted of its contents, with the whole sub- 
stance of them in his brain, so that he knew all about every 
one of them, and could give a perfect analysis of them all, 
from beginning to end. On Saturday morning he would sit 
down to write his sermon for the next day ; on Saturday 
afternoon go and visit the sick and bereaved of his society ; 
on Sunday morning preach his sermon, and in the after- 
noon drive out to Watertown and preach there; and on 
Sunday evening he would lie on the sofa, and talk to his 
friends. That was his way of working. I got a letter, only 
yesterday, from William H. Channing, an old friend of his, 
who, speaking in the most tender and affectionate terms of 
his departure, said that he had, by over-working the intel- 
lectual part of his faculties, by too great fidelity in study, 
killed out, to some extent, another masterly faculty, which 
he had observed, but of which those who did not know him 
might be ignorant — namely, his gorgeous imagination. Mr. 
Channing said that he was a man who had, with all his logi- 
cal power, with all those reflective faculties, with all those 
immense powers of grasp and reception, — the powers by 
which he held on to and retained what he had learned, and 
the powers by which he brought them into one great system, 
in order to set them before men, — with all this, he had the 
imagination of a poet, but did not let it work, he was so 
busy studying all the time. 

Now, there were other students along with him when he 
was a boy, and I have known a great many students, but 


their way of studying was very different from his. When 
Parker studied, it was not merely with the concentration of 
certain faculties, for the sake of working out a certain prob- 
lem, and there an end of it ; or merely to gather together 
certain things and put them into his brain, and there an end 
of it. No ; he had a great idea before him all the time, 
and his study was always instinct with the life of that idea, 
and every word he uttered was a living word, and all the 
thoughts that came from him, came from him as fresh, glow- 
ing thoughts, — full of love to God and love to man. 

Not to dwell on that, I say he was great, very great, intel- 
lectually, because he was not a narrow intellectual worker, 
but because he worked with the great reasoning faculty, 
which goes up to God the Eternal, at the same time that he 
worked with all those other intellectual powers which gath- 
ered together what God has sown broadcast over the earth, 
and by which he matured them for ripe and present use. 
When I saw him, on his return from Europe the last time, 
he told me of a long conversation which he had with a 
scholar at Oxford, I think, or Cambridge, who had lived for 
nothing but to study Aristotle ; that was his business in the 
world — to know all about Aristotle ; and Parker said that 
he discussed with him, through a whole summer day, Aris- 
totle. When they had exhausted that subject, Parker asked 
him if he knew any thing about Plato. He said, " I have 
read Plato once ; " and then Parker began upon Plato, and 
went through with every one of the dialogues, and taught 
him all he did not know about Plato. This is but a little 
part of Parker's knowledge, of which not one in ten thou- 
sand ever heard ; and it is a specimen of the quantity and 
kind of knowledge which he had packed away ready for use. 

Now, with regard to the second thing which goes to make 
a man great. What was Parker's way of action ? It was 
a grand way of action. His activity was as large, deter- 


mined, persistent, complete, and thorough as his intellectual 
working was. What he did was on a plan reaching through 
years — on a plan arranged when he was a boy ; the whole 
of his life mapped out before him, with all he meant to do 
each year previously arranged, and the reason for it fixed in 
his own mind ; and then he went to his work and did it — 
lived to accomplish it. But what sort of work was it? 
Greatness in work considers the quality of the work as well 
as the amount and method of accomplishing it. What was 
the quality of his work ? It was simply this : it was to lift 
man toward God. That was the work which Parker gave 
himself to do in the world. That was the work for which 
he gathered together all this knowledge, that the work for 
which he so trained his intellect to be acute, persistent, and 
comprehensive. It was to raise men to God. With his eye 
on God, he turned to man to lift him up ; and wherever he 
found a man who needed to be raised, or a class, a race, or 
a nation, that needed to be lifted up, there he felt his work 
to be. On that point I say no more, because it is the least 
necessary to speak of his work, since that is patent and 
known to all. 

But there is one other element of greatness in man. 
Besides the head and the hand, there is the heart. What 
was the greatness of heart in Theodore Parker ? His habit 
was in speaking of the Almighty, not to call Him the 
Almighty. He spoke of the " Absolute Father/' in his phi- 
losophy and in his theology ; but when he came to speak of 
Him from the pulpit, as a Christian man speaking to Chris- 
tian men, as a brother talking to brethren and sisters of what 
they needed, it was "Father" and "Mother" — "the Great 
Father and Mother of us all." The tender, feminine heart 
of Theodore Parker was not satisfied with the name of 
" Father," unless he united with it that of " Mother." So 
tender was he, so affectionate was he, that no one was ever 


near to Parker as a friend, as an intimate companion, with- 
out wondering how it was that men could ever think of him 
as hard, stern, severe, cold, and domineering, because, in all 
the private relations of life, he was as docile as a child to the 
touch of love, and it was only necessary, if you had any 
fault to find with any thing that he had said or done, to go 
to him and tell him just what your complaint was, or what 
your difficulty was, and just as likely as not he would at 
once admit, if there was the least reason in the complaint, 
that he was wrong. He was as ready to admit himself in 
the wrong as to maintain his stand for the everlasting right. 

When Theodore Parker was about going away, and I 
went to see him for the last time, he followed me to the door 
of his study, and, putting his hands on my shoulders, he 
kissed my cheek, and said, " James, if you and I never meet 
again in this world, we have the happiness of knowing that 
there never has been between us one word, or one feeling, 
or one action, of unkindness." In the Old World, you will 
see men who carry in their button holes a red ribbon — the 
sign that they belong to the Legion of Honor. As long as 
I live, I shall carry (not apparent to others, but known to 
myself) the mark of that tender, fraternal kiss on my cheek. 
It is to me the sign of belonging to the Legion of Honor. 

I do not know how to describe — with what figure bor- 
rowed from nature, or art, or history to describe — how Par- 
ker seems to me, in all this varied and accumulated great- 
ness of mind, of heart, and of hand, better than by telling 
you the incidents of one day of my life. When I was pass- 
ing out of Italy once, by the St. Gothard route, we were in 
Italy in the morning, on the Italian side of the mountains, 
surrounded by Italian voices, and by the music of Italian 
nightingales, and within sight of the opening vineyards. 
Then we began the ascent of the mountain, and as we as- 
cended, we passed through the valley of pines, until at last, 


on that fifteenth day of May, we came to the snow. Then 
we took the little sleds, and went on upon the snow, higher 
and higher, until we were surrounded with great fields of 
snow, dazzling white in the sun ; and on one side we saw 
the fall of a terrible avalanche, with its roar of thunder. 
So we passed on, until we reached the summit of the moun- 
tain, and then, descending on the other side, we came at last 
to where again the snow ceased, and there taking the dili- 
gence, we went on our way down the side of the mountain, 
through gorges and ravines, and glaciers even, the country 
around growing more and more green, changing from spring 
to summer, until at last, when we came down toward the 
Lake of Lucerne, we passed through orchards full of apple- 
blossoms, and finally crossed the beautiful lake to the town 
of Lucerne, there to receive a whole bundle of letters from 
home — from father, mother, brother, sister, and child — to 
end the day. When I think of that day's journey, beginning 
in Italy and ending in Germany, beginning under an Italian 
sun, at midday surrounded by snow-fields and glaciers, and 
at its close amid the apple-blossoms of Germany, it seems 
to me that that varied and wonderful day is a sort of type 
of the life of our friend Theodore Parker; its youth 
Italian — all fresh and gushing with ten thousand springs of 
early, boyish life and hope and animation, and with all the 
varied study and activity of the child and youth ; its early 
morning passed in the stern work of climbing up the 
mountain side ; its midday, with God's everlasting sun over 
his head, and the great, broad fields all around, over which 
his eye looked ; and all through its afternoon hours, passing 
on into an ever-increasing affluence of spring and summer, 
and ending at last in the sweet bosom of affection, gratitude, 
and love. 

How shall we miss him ! The days are to come when we 
shall know how we miss him. When that great Hall stands 


closed and silent on the Lord's day, — empty and silent, 
because there is no one here who has the commanding 
ability which can bring together those great multitudes Sun- 
day after Sunday, month after month, and year after year, 
to be taught and fed, — when great crises of the nation 
come, and pass unexamined, and not understood, because 
that great masterly power of analysis is taken from u3, — 
when great national crimes are repeated again and again, 
and not rebuked to the listening ear of the nation, because 
there is no great power of intellect and knowledge adequate 
to that work — then we shall remember and feel and 
mourn the loss of Theodore Parker. 


At a meeting of the Fraternity, June 1, the following 
Resolutions were offered, and after remarks by several 
members, were unanimously adopted : — 

Whereas, this Fraternity is composed of members of the 
Twenty-eighth Congregational Society, and one of its ob- 
jects, as declared in the Constitution, is to assist the Minister 
and Standing Committee of that Society in all suitable ways, 
and as the Reverend Theodore Parker was our minister up 
to the time of his decease, — of us to the last, though not 
with us, — therefore 

Resolved, That we desire to express our deep sense of the 
loss we have sustained by his death, and our appreciation of 
the lasting obligation under which we rest for the great ser- 
vice he has done us, and to show, as far as in us lies, a be- 
coming respect and veneration for his memory. 

Resolved, That in the death of Theodore Parker we 
mourn the loss of one who has been to us a minister indeed, 
faithful to every delegated trust, discharging all the functions 
of his office with a generous disregard of self, and a con- 
scientious care for the welfare of his flock, which entitle him 
to our warmest admiration and gratitude ; a teacher who 
taught us the highest truths at which he had arrived, how- 
ever unpopular with the mass of men, and who never hesi- 
tated to utter what duty impelled him to speak, however 
painful the utterance may have been to him, or hurtful to 
the prejudices of others, thus seeking to warn us of all that 
was base and unmanly, to guide us in the way of virtue and 
toward every human excellence, never appealing to a low 


motive, but ever to what was highest and best in our nature ; 
a friend who never, by reason of his superior gifts or attain- 
ments, set himself above those less favored, but treated all 
men and women as equals, who was as a brother to the hum- 
blest of men, the protector of the weak and helpless, the 
advocate of the rights of the oppressed, and who in his deal- 
ings with the unfortunate and degraded of every class, 
showed a manly sympathy and a womanly delicacy and ten- 
derness ; a man whose integrity never failed, whose pure 
life and noble character furnish a lofty model which the 
humblest of us may well aspire to imitate, though none of 
us perhaps may hope to attain. 

Resolved, That while we gratefully and lovingly cherish 
the memory of our minister, and guide, and friend, we will 
do all in our power, individually and as a society, to dissem- 
inate still more widely the generous sentiments and great 
ideas of which he was the representative, and which he 
spent his life in promulgating ; and so carry forward the 
good work in which he labored so long, so faithfully, and 
with such success. 

Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolutions be 
forwarded to Mrs. Parker. 




At the close of the regular services at the Music Hall, on 
the 3d of June, on which occasion an eloquent sermon, illus- 
trative of the character of Theodore Parker, was preached 
by his well-beloved friend, Rev. Samuel J. May, of Syracuse, 


a meeting of the society was held in view of the loss of their 
minister. Charles W. Slack, Chairman of the Standing 
Committee, presided, and in calling the meeting to order, 
stated that it was for the purpose of taking some suitable 
cognizance of the great loss they had sustained. 

Mr. Frank T. Sanborn, of Concord, then offered the fol- 
lowing resolutions, before reading which he said they had 
been drawn with special reference to Mr. Parker's connection 
with the society as its minister, which office he had always 
regarded as far the most important of his life. 

Resolved, That we have received, with the most profound 
sorrow, the tidings of the death of our beloved minister and 
friend, Theodore Parker; who, by his long absence from 
our pulpit, as well as by his constant presence in it for so 
many years, has caused us to feel the strong and peculiar tie 
which joined us to him in the sacred relation of minister 
and parishioner. 

Resolved, That although the union between him and our- 
selves has been too closely knit by a common belief in the 
great truths of religion, by common hopes, sentiments, and 
aspirations, and by long participation in religious and be- 
nevolent action, ever to be dissolved by distance or death ; 
although we still recognize him as our minister, even though 
we see his face no more, we must nevertheless realize to-day 
how greatly we are weakened and saddened by this event, 
which breaks beyond hope of reunion the long-established 
and familiar intercourse of preacher and hearer, of pastor 
and people, and which removes forever from our mortal 
sight the friend who loved us so well that he laid down his 
life in our service, and for the cause in which we have 
enlisted with him. 

Resolved, That we owe and offer to the good God whom 
it was his highest ambition to glorify and serve, our fervent 
thanks for the precious privilege which was our own for so 


many years, and which we have only learned to value the 
more by its loss, of listening to his teachings ; of strength- 
ening ourselves by his example ; of drawing consolation and 
hope from his affectionate ministrations on occasions of 
public and private grief, and of looking to him in all those 
countless offices which the true minister performs for the 
people of his charge, not as formal duties, but as a grateful 
and holy service. 

Resolved, That we will endeavor to testify by our lives 
(as he has taught us) to the good work wrought in us by the 
faith we profess, esteeming that the best honor to his memory, 
no less than the highest service of the loving Father to 
whom he has so long offered our united prayers. 

Resolved, That we invite all former members of our So- 
ciety, and all those, wherever they may dwell, who have 
looked up with us to Theodore Parker as their guide in 
spiritual things, to join with us in these expressions of our 
sorrow as members of one household of faith, and partakers 
in a common loss. 

Resolved, That we tender our sincere thanks to those 
friends of our minister, who cared for him in his last illness 
and performed those sad and pleasing obsequies in a foreign 
land, which we, in the unsearchable providence of God, were 
not permitted to take part in here. 

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to our 
dear friend, the wife of our beloved minister, and to the 
other members of his family, thereby assuring them of what 
they cannot doubt, our earnest sympathy in their bereave- 
ment, which is even greater than ours. 

After remarks by several members of the society, the 
resolutions were unanimously adopted. 



This book is due on the last date stamped below, or on the 

date to which renewed. 

Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 



■ T 7: . 


f£B4 1958 


REC'D 1_D 

WAY 1 9 196f 

NOV 3 1965 8 
0EC l-'65-8PN 

^8Apr'64 SiH 


AUG 041997 

MONS. By Tiikodokk Pabkbb. 8 vols. 12mo. L 

Manufactured by 


Syracuse, N. Y. 

Stockton, Calif.